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CHAPTER SIX The psychoanalytic movement and psychoanalysis proper

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CHAPTER SIX

The psychoanalytic movement and psychoanalysis proper

T

he German term Zeitgeist—“the spirit of the time”—merits consideration. It was coined by Johann Gottfried Herder, the discoverer of the field of literary criticism, a discipline greatly advertised by one of his followers, Hegel (Hartmann, 1923–1929;

Irmscher, 1969; Sandler, 2001c). It means the whole intellectual climate which shapes the general feeling and beliefs of a social group, giving the human species a locus for creative development through schooling.

In the end, any establishment has as its spine a specific Zeitgeist.

Due to social tendencies linked to the constant conjunction of two human conditions, namely, helplessness and thoughtlessness, there emerges idolisation and messianisation of given people and their teachings or offerings. Therefore, any given Zeitgeist may attain the quality of being seen as the prevailing social truth—in most cases the one and absolute truth. If contaminated by a paranoid-schizoid wish for perpetuity, expressed by repetition of the same ideas and actions though imitation, a specific Zeitgeist becomes immobilised and ossified, defying the passage of time. In denying movement, it may deny the stuff of life, fuelling mindlessness and a lack of creative outlets for the human mind.

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CHAPTER TWO Truth; truthfulness

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CHAPTER TWO

Truth; truthfulness

B

ion harboured misgivings about the available methods of communication that put down on paper what psychoanalytic practice is for people who are not participating in an actual session.

Writing is a predominantly material act outside the psychoanalytic setting. As such, it has built-in limitations when the purpose is to communicate the immateriality that happens uniquely in that living setting.

Psychoanalysis is in itself a practical activity. It was born from practice: empirical findings and empirical needs gave birth to it. Psychoanalysis is nourished and oxygenated by practice. Lack of practice pollutes psychoanalysis with a priori and ad hoc pseudo-theorising indistinguishable from hallucination. Practice-in-itself is the raison d’être of any practical activity—which is born from real, truthful, natural human needs: clinical and surgical medicine, gardening, cooking, artistic and sporting endeavours. The problem of communication is neither specific to nor typical of psychoanalysis: attempts to communicate aspects of the know-how in a good-enough way are doomed to failure. An alternative which can overcome—at least partially—the failures in communicating at least a part of the know-how that characterises practical activities is provided by a living experience with people who have already

13

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Chapter Six - The Psychoanalytic Movement and Psychoanalysis Proper

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The German term Zeitgeist—“the spirit of the time”—merits consideration. It was coined by Johann Gottfried Herder, the discoverer of the field of literary criticism, a discipline greatly advertised by one of his followers, Hegel (Hartmann, 1923–1929; Irmscher, 1969; Sandler, 2001c). It means the whole intellectual climate which shapes the general feeling and beliefs of a social group, giving the human species a locus for creative development through schooling. In the end, any establishment has as its spine a specific Zeitgeist.

Due to social tendencies linked to the constant conjunction of two human conditions, namely, helplessness and thoughtlessness, there emerges idolisation and messianisation of given people and their teachings or offerings. Therefore, any given Zeitgeist may attain the quality of being seen as the prevailing social truth—in most cases the one and absolute truth. If contaminated by a paranoid-schizoid wish for perpetuity, expressed by repetition of the same ideas and actions though imitation, a specific Zeitgeist becomes immobilised and ossified, defying the passage of time. In denying movement, it may deny the stuff of life, fuelling mindlessness and a lack of creative outlets for the human mind. Submission to any specific Zeitgeist constitutes a harmful attack against the development and survival of science and art, which are timeless (transcendent)—something that religious leaders learned. Through fashion, it is debased into ideology or ideologies.

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Chapter Eight - A Dreamscope?

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It would suffice to resort to the innumerable pages printed with so-called psychoanalytic reports made to comply with the many regulations of the psychoanalytical institutes to gain a clear presentation of “the dreamless sleep” (I: 33) which flows into a day “as empty of events—facts proper to daytime—as the night had been empty of dreams” (I: 33).

According to Otto Kernberg, a professional who since 1993 has made public the influence he received from Bion, the established regulations constituted the best factories to destroy any psychoanalytic candidate’s creativity (Kernberg, 1996). No one should accuse Dr Kernberg, a former president of IPA and an experienced clinician trained in the Menninger Clinic, of not having a deep knowledge of the establishment’s ways. The matter of the crushing effect on freedom of mind of the introjection of ossified impositions, coming first from the exterior but turned inward to the personality, was dealt with by Romantic poets, especially since Wordsworth and Keats. In later times, Ferreira Gullar, a poet, is one of the authors who have tried to make this clear, with his claims, inspired by the original suggestion of Umberto Eco, to perform an “open work” (Eco, 1962; a compact display of it appears in an interview with Gullar, 2010). The study of the mechanisms of introjection, which are genetically determined, should make clear that the external impositions cannot be seen as determinant causes in the simplistic positivist sense. It will all depend on the way each individual takes them. What is at stake is each individual’s personal responsibility, which Seneca called the personal arbitrium and Bertrand Russell called personal authority. The stifling of one’s capacity to dream is proportional to one’s hate for truth.

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CHAPTER TWO: “The Interpretation of Dreams”: a scientific tradition and resistance to it

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The initial chapters, whose form is repeated throughout the work, relate respectively to the earlier literature dealing with the issue of dreams and the relationship of dreams with life when one is wide awake.

I find it noteworthy that researchers into the system of the mind and psychic reality are always harassed as if they were second-rate researchers, and are accused of being non-scientific because of the realm they choose or were chosen to investigate. As pointed out earlier (and by many other authors), the same problems assail and more often than not embarrass any scientific investigators in any scientific area, and are not the exclusive domain of the analyst. But some prejudices or obvious parti-pris that are taken for granted with any other researcher are unfairly put into doubt when the issue is psychoanalysis; alas, not just by non-analysts. For example, that life, and real life, does not proceed differently in every hour of every day. One may notice and respect alterations in hormone secretion and different activity cycles of the hypothalamus, pineal gland and adrenal gland by day and at night; but these are undiminished in total when night and day are considered together, as they obviously mustbe. Why does one also respect the night-time lessening of neuronal afferent stimuli reaching the central nervous system and the corresponding increase in daytime, when the total sum is equal if nighttime and daytime life are considered as a whole? And why are there still so many difficulties with dreams (which continue, despite consciously avowed allegiance to their significance, rather like a religious vow made by non-religious practitioners), despite the fact that “The Interpretation of Dreams” was published over a century ago? Which continue undiminished, even though their perception also suffers an inverse cyclical variation from night (when they are better apprehended) to day (when apprehension lessens) but keeps the same pattern when the whole entity of night and day is considered? Life does not pause at night.1

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