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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

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Chapter Two - Truth; Truthfulness

P.C. Sandler Karnac Books ePub

Bion 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 experienced them. Experto crede—trust someone who has experienced it—as Horace said.

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CHAPTER TEN Banal times

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CHAPTER TEN

Banal times

EDMUND The centre of our galaxy is hidden from us, and though we suspect that it lies near Sagittarius we cannot see, as we can when we examine M31, the bright centre.

P.A. A stimulating idea. I would not wish to question the scientific findings of astrophysicists, because I also find in those discoveries a model which illuminates the obscurities of the human mind. At present I cannot entertain, at the same instant, “les espaces infinies” of space and the infinite spaces of human thought. What my work impresses on me is the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of the human mind, and the even vaster and greater depth of human ignorance. Anatole France, having spread himself in a eulogy of the power of man’s wisdom, ends by saying, in reply to a question, that the only thing more marvellous is man’s stupidity, bigotry and intolerance. [II: 232–3]

Wars between psychoanalysts: farewell to psychoanalysis?

One may notice that public knowledge, and therefore public acknowledgement, of a sizeable number of outstanding works or feats has

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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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CHAPTER SEVEN: Observation and communication

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Bion's main theories—alpha function, links, elements of psychoanalysis, transformations and the language of achievement— form an interdependent, evolving whole which actualises itself in the decisive moments that compose a session. Here I will attempt to display a mode of their clinical use through focusing on their most developed form: Bion's application of the mathematical concept of transformations and invariants. With the exception of this concept I have not encumbered the text with quotations and bibliographic references to definitions (for example, container and contained, elements of psychoanalysis); all the terms used can be seen in the annotated historical and epistemological presentations of the theory available elsewhere (Sandler, 2005, 2006).

Considering any psychoanalytical session as an emotional experience, what elements in it must be selected to make it clear that the experience had been a psychoanalysis and could have been nothing else? [Bion, 1963, p. 14]

Under the heading of theories of technique, Freud distinguished between theories of psychoanalytic observation and theories of psychoanalysis. This distinction was expanded by Menninger (1958).

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