47 Chapters
Medium 9781782200901

Chapter Ten: Autodidacts and the Garden of Eden

Miller, J.F. Karnac Books ePub

Health and optimal functioning of any sort is dependent on various types of balance. One of the best indicators of a person's physical health is their body temperature. Getting too hot can be just as lethal as getting too cold. Vegetation can be damaged as much by flooding as by drought.

In the same way, emotional balance is crucial to psychological health and optimal functioning. Emotional balance concerns the central question of confidence and self-image. Insufficient confidence and belief in oneself, on the one hand, can inhibit learning and performance and may even prevent it altogether. On the other hand, excessive confidence and an inflated idea of one's ability can be just as big a block to learning and as much of an interference to performance.

Problems of insecurity and lack of confidence have always been familiar to the teaching profession, as well as parents, as is the role of encouragement. Beyond these general concepts, there still seems to be relatively little, clear understanding about what is involved in this crucial aspect of early development. There seems to be even less awareness in society, as a whole, of how many of the problems people have in adult life in the workplace, in social relationships and elsewhere, are a result of this crucial aspect of their development remaining incomplete.

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Chapter Five: Feeding, Reading, and Mental Anorexia

Miller, J.F. Karnac Books ePub

Early life, as every mother knows, is largely dominated by feeding. Problems in breastfeeding occur so frequently, and are recognised to be of such importance that specialist nurses are considered necessary in large hospitals to enable feeding problems to be overcome. From the point of view of the baby, although a good feed must be one of the most pleasurable and satisfying of experiences, hunger, wind, and colic often claim more of the baby's waking hours. Even the successful activity of feeding involves the baby in a great deal of hard work—something which is overlooked when we indulge in idealistic fantasies of the blissful Garden of Eden experience of babyhood.

It is essential to recognise the relevance of this first experience at both a general and a personal level.

At a general level, the principles which applied to successful feeding where it concerns the intake of actual food also apply to any subsequent feeding-like experiences—receiving, consuming, browsing, being deprived, being satisfied, and so on.

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Chapter Eight - Sexuality and Perversion

Miller, J.F. Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER EIGHT

Sexuality and perversion

It is symptomatic of our culture that sexuality is mostly thought of in terms of behaviour, as opposed to meaning and experience. “Sex” to most people nowadays immediately suggests physical activity, with little or no thought of the feelings or thoughts that might be involved. So, what is the essence of sexuality?

In evolutionary terms, the function of sexuality is, almost by definition, that of propagating the species. With human beings, however, the all-pervasiveness of sexuality is clearly completely out of proportion to the necessities of the survival of the species. The average human being would only need to engage in sexual intercourse a dozen or so times in their lifetime to produce enough offspring for the species to continue. The universal preoccupation—one is tempted to say, obsession—with sex and sexuality must, therefore, reflect something about the essential part it plays in our social and emotional well-being.

If we then look at the thoughts and ideas that most commonly characterise sexuality in cultural expression through music, literature, art, sculpture, etc., it is clear that they centre round the idea of a creative connection. So, to sum up what we have somewhat laboriously arrived at, sexuality is essentially about love and creativity. As we observed before, when two people genuinely “make love”, as opposed to simply “having sex”, there is always a baby conceived symbolically in the minds of the lovers, in the form of an amalgam of the most valued parts of each of them.

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Chapter Seven - Projective Identification and the Claustrum

Miller, J.F. Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER SEVEN

Projective identification and the claustrum

The essence of voyeurism is intrusiveness. The voyeur seeks to get into other people's private affairs, without their permission, and spy on them. The prototype for this is the infant fantasy of breaking into the privacy of the parents’ intimacy where he has no business to be.

There is, however, another source of intrusiveness, which results from the situation where the child feels prevented from having the emotional access to the mother, which he needs in order to be able to develop his own identity. This can come about in a number of ways. The mother might herself be immature or psychologically damaged in a way which prevents her from being willing and able to engage with her baby emotionally. Or she might be an emotionally healthy mother who is prevented by something—illness, depression, grief—from being available. Increasingly, nowadays, the mother sees no reason why the baby needs any personal attention from her anyway, and farms him out to carers and surrogates with whom he can have no uninterrupted, personal relationship. Whatever the reason, which might be outside anybody's control, the situation arises that the child's need to have an intimate sense of being in touch with the emotional individuality of the mother is obstructed. What is the child to do? In normal development, the child's innate or instinctive apperception of mother is given emotional substance through the encounter with her mind. The newborn baby has a symbiotic—one could say telepathic—communication with its mother, which becomes gradually more and more of a dialogue, provided the child and its relationship develop.

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Chapter Twenty-Two - Judy and Maria: Vendettas against the Parent/Analyst

Miller, J.F. Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

Judy and Maria: vendettas against the parent/analyst

Judy

I had just completed my first analytical training when Judy was referred to me at the practice I then had in London, for personal analysis. The ostensible reason for this was that she needed to have analysis as a requirement of the counselling training she was doing.

I think I was already well aware, even at that time, that people only ever seek psychotherapy because in some way they need help themselves. The ones who do not recognise this are usually the more disturbed, and it can be expected that the analysis will take longer, as it might be some time before they finally recognise why they need help in the first place.

Judy presented as a rather demure teacher in her thirties, with an impeccable middle-class life situation. The first warning sign, which I failed to read, was her concern about rumours of incestuous relationships in the families of the children she taught.

My first analytical training (as seems to be a common problem) had really given me only an intellectual understanding of the concept of transference: I had not come to learn from experience in my own analysis how everything the patient talks about is likely to convey something unconsciously going on in their own inner world.

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