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CHAPTER SIX: Clinical illustrations

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The following brief clinical reports try to illustrate some intra- and extra-session hypotheses on “interpretation”—or, perhaps more accurately “construction”—of dreams. They are based on at least two factors:

•  immanence, or experience lived with the analysand, provided by personal contact four times a week for months and years. This furnishes indications which come to our minds in a spontaneous way as the analyst's free associations. Its initial manifestation coincides with Freud's manifest content.

•  transcendence, when reality (facts, events, and people) is not what its appearance would suggest it is. We can never know ultimately what it is, but we are able to know, transitorily, what it is not. I have observed that, from “is not” to “is not”, in steps whose stuff is mistakes and/or frustrations, we might get closer to what is, without ever arriving there, but being, during this “journey”. I start from Bion's observation that the experience of no-breast (the “is not”) may be a (or the) condition for the inception of thought processes. Or, if we become able to abandon these beliefsone by one, and come to base ourselves on facts, we may obtain firm (though always transitory and partial) pieces and aspects, glimpses of the reality, and can configure an approximate outline of its wholeness, however slowly. One day, one may see “that is that; it is not anything else”; or “I am what I am and I am no one other than myself”. Its manifestations encircle the latent content and are construed from the reality of the session, experienced by the analytic couple but focusing bits of intrapsychic structures and functions emanating from the patient.

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CHAPTER THREE: Old wine in new bottles: authors reviving Freud's psychoanalytic ethos

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Contact with reality is not dependent on dream work; accessibility to the personality of the material derived from this contact is dependent on dream work.

(Bion, 1958–1979, p. 45)

Bion was the first scientist to use the term reverie. It is probably untranslatable as it is more often than not transferred into other languages, even though its gist can be fully grasped. Due to the universal nature of the unconscious and of genetically determined human instincts, it had to become the chosen title of musical pieces, all of them endowed with extreme delicacy and sensibility. If their penetration among the hearing public as soon as they are heard ever since then, irrespective of place, is of any importance, it will be acknowledged that those manifestations coined (or better, concocted) by two Romantic composers, Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann, conveyed the French verbal formulation better. After all, both Enlightenment and Romantic messages were first brought by French people and later developed by English and Germanauthors—to new heights unheard since then. Reverie and its German analogue, Träumerei, are terms which still do not exist in English and Portuguese, among other languages.1 The quasi-oneiroid vector and meaning of reverie displays its links with the Bildungskraft of the German Romantic Movement as well as with Traumdeutung, Freud's “Interpretation of Dreams”.

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CHAPTER THREE Clinical significance

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CHAPTER THREE

Clinical significance

T

he quotations and variations about Bion’s “pursuit of truth-O” may serve as a sample of the following book: an introductory example of a mode to detect and use in everyday practice the many psychoanalytical truths one may find in reading A Memoir of the Future. “A” mode means one among many possibilities, a quantity which tends to be infinite.

In Transformations Bion commented that a book with no explicit comments on issues such as transference and Oedipus is ill received by the average adherent of the psychoanalytical establishment. It should not be a surprise that the Trilogy was met with disparagement: its dialogical form was taken concretely, rather than as a form that could reflect the purest psychoanalytic method. Freud stated that psychoanalysis happens when two people converse freely; the “talking cure” proved to be much more talking than cure (Freud, 1940).

To the reader unfamiliar with A Memoir of the Future, perhaps a little patience will be helpful in putting up with its quasi-dialogical mode of writing, built up with the help of imaginative quasi-characters drawn from real life experiences. Of these, Bion, Myself and P.A.

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Chapter Eleven - Facing Natural Tension: An Option for Banality?

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A memoir of the future: polymaths of the Renaissance and of the Enlightenment

No one, and a fortiori, no medically oriented practitioner can deny the existence of the Principle of Pleasure–Displeasure and the need for a good enough apprehension of and respect for it. Both denial of it and subservience to it mean submitting to the same underlying unscientific Weltanschauung. The medically oriented practitioner who does this puts at risk his or her own raison d’être and Leitmotiv.1 In the early years, Freud was attracted, but not mesmerised by it; one may quote at least three steps in his learning from his own life experiences in order to extract himself from its siren song (or what the human being sees as this). Firstly, in the elaboration of his project of a neurological psychology (1895), he abandoned the traumatic theory in three ways: (i) in the psychopathology of everyday life, where he discovered that a funny joke is neither funny nor a joke; (ii) in the interpretation of dreams; and (iii) in the description of transference (1900). Secondly, in the elaboration of the antithetic pair of the two principles of mental functioning (1911), he established once and for all the seminal importance of the Principle of Reality. Thirdly, he discovered what was beyond the principle of pleasure–displeasure. Those experiences included a swift incursion into the world of cocaine, which showed him that the sources of Pleasure are identical to those of the Displeasure—for example, his suggestion to use this psychotropic drug as an anaesthetic and the ingratitude of his hitherto grateful colleague, Karl Koller; and his sad experience of having introduced it to Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow, as a “cure” (which failed) for his close friend’s morphine addiction.

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Chapter Nine - Two Habits of Mind: Naïve Idealism and Naïve Realism

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CHAPTER NINE

Two habits of mind: naïve idealism and naïve realism

Oh for a muse like the fire of a goldsmith and like the soap of the fullers! She will dare to cleanse the natural use of the senses from the unnatural use of abstractions, by which our concepts of things are just as mutilated as the name of the creator is suppressed and blasphemed.

—J. G. Hamann, quoted in Smith, 1960

 

There are limitations of perception, which may or may not be intrinsic, natural, even though in any case they may be linked to our relative immaturity as a living species. Human beings are one of the most recent entities in the life of the Earth. There is evidence that those perceptual limitations are both genotypic and familial and also phenotypic, as in Freud's complementary series. They are perceptual limitations as well as post-sensuous limitations, in the sense of an intra-psychic distortion in apprehending the invariant of the original stimulus. Not even participating observation (the fact the observer interferes with the observed object) can distort the basic invariance of the observed object. I use the term “invariance” in the same sense that the mathematicians Sylvester and Cayley used it in the mathematical realm, that Paul Dirac used it in the realm of quantum phenomena, that Bion brought it to the realm of human unconscious phenomena, and much later, that Nozick brought it to philosophy (Dirac, 1932; Bion, 1965; Nozick, 2001; Sandler, 2006). Psychically, those distortions which are not linked to normal distortions due to the limited range covered by our human perceptual apparatus, in its known and hypothesised senses. Namely, sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch—which includes heat and pressure sense organs, as well as proprioceptive stimuli stemming from inner organs. After Freud, one may hypothesise that consciousness is the sense organ for the apprehension of psychic qualities. The distortions are factors and functions of hallucinated activity. They may be seen as post-sensuous tendencies to distort perception, as in the post-sensuous perception in the eye's macula lutea. For want of better names, I propose to call these distortions:

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