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

P.C. Sandler Karnac Books ePub

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 Seven - Looking for a Language of Achievement—a Free Association Generator?

P.C. Sandler Karnac Books ePub

William Butler Yeats said in Words (at the age of 75): “At length / My darling understands it all, / Because I have come into my strength, / And words obey my call”. Bion’s way of writing has specific peculiarities. It is not a question of style, because style is amenable to be imitated. The Trilogy challenges imitation; is it inimitable? Comparisons with Freud are unavoidable, because he established a pattern of excellence. One may safely state that Freud had a gift of graciously furnishing a “flowing feature” to his writings. These had some remarkable, albeit superficial, similarities with the work of writers, so it was not by mere coincidence that Freud won a literature prize; that many people, impacted by what is a mere appearance, concluded that he specialised in writing a kind of roman à clef; and finally, that many people from the intelligentsia became convinced that psychoanalysis and literature were the same thing.

Compared with Freud, Bion’s writings are not endowed with this “flowing feature”—even though readers who read his texts from end to end are—without interruption. One may state, even at the risk of being seen as a mere eulogiser, that some of the main features present in Bion’s writings have striking similarities with the everyday practice of psychoanalysis. This view is confirmed by his own words, given in public supervisions and seminars and also in the Brazilian Lectures. At 81, he told the audience that he always felt fear when entering into a new analytic session.

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Chapter Eight - Truth

P.C. Sandler Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER EIGHT

Truth

And finally we must not forget that the analytic relationship is based on a love of truth—that is, on a recognition of reality—and that it precludes any kind of sham or deceit.

—Freud, 1937a, p. 248

Reality has been deprived of its value, its meaning, its veracity to the same degree as an ideal world has been fabricated…The “real world” and the “apparent world”—in plain terms: the fabricated world and reality…The lie of the ideal has hitherto been the curse on reality, through it mankind itself has been mendacious and false down to its deepest instincts—to the point of worshipping the inverse values to those which alone could guarantee its prosperity, its future, the exalted right to a future.

—Nietzsche, 1888, p. 4

Are there any facts that at least partially justify the spending of time, life and, according to some people, money on them? I think that if there are, they would include the empirical substratum of psychoanalysis that is the clinic.

One may take a partial descriptive statement, which has the advantage of being simple, to depict an analytic clinical situation: one puts oneself to truthfully listen to what someone else has to say (slightly modified from Bion, 1979). No wonder, because psychoanalysis is a development, a kind of “offspring” which displays its “heredity” from medicine. The same description serves well for medical practice, which also includes some material statements. Clinical practice confers, in theoretical terms, scientific status to psychoanalysis. In practical, real-life terms it confers its strength: its reality-value, or truth-value. Clinical experience demands “participating observation” of real facts as they are, quite independently of reaching them wholly, permanently or not.

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CHAPTER TWO: The realm of Minus and the negative

P.C. Sandler Karnac Books ePub

Minus in Bion’s parlance is by definition a non-concrete, immaterial realm that complements the positive “senseable” realm of the material reality. Mathematics serves as a model: the negative numbers expanded the perception that the universe of the natural numbers was not the only one that existed. The latter are easily apprehended through the basic senses. In Western civilisation, Parmenides and mainly Plato seem to have been the first to adumbrate this realm in written form. Neo-platonic Hebrew and Christian Cabala dwelt on it. Kant’s revival of Plato’s numinous realm defines it as a negative, a “limiting concept” (Kant, 1781). No serious research about the Minus realm could omit a reference, even just a passing one, to the work of Gottlob Frege. He finally resolved Kant’s ambivalence (pointed out by Hamann and scrutinised from a psychoanalytical viewpoint in Sandler, 2000a), as seen in the Antinomy of Pure Reason, and Hegel’s pregnant hints and ambivalent confusion that elicited a transcendent synthesis (in the movement from thesis to antithesis which is usually called dialectical; again, first pointed out and scrutinised under a psychoanalytic vertex in Sandler, 2003). In brief, Frege seemed to demonstrate (in philosophical terms) that what I call “the realm of Minus” (or “no” ) cannot be equated to denial; in other words, it contemplates the possibilities of impossibility and its propositional content cannot be seen on the same level because—as I suggest—it does not have the same nature as the “Plus realm” , what is affirmative; in other words, what occupies a position in space-time. Therefore, since it indicates “what is not” (an anti-positivism, so to say), it cannot have the properties assigned to what would be the opposite of “what is” . It is ineffable. To my mind, the best way to indicate its nature can be found in music, with what was discovered by some Italian composers and perfected into a climax by Bach: what is known as “counterpoint” .1 Art furnishes a further model:

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CHAPTER SEVEN Looking for a language of achievement—a free association generator?

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CHAPTER SEVEN

Looking for a language of achievement—a free association generator?

W

illiam Butler Yeats said in Words (at the age of 75): “At length / My darling understands it all, / Because I have come into my strength, / And words obey my call”. Bion’s way of writing has specific peculiarities. It is not a question of style, because style is amenable to be imitated. The Trilogy challenges imitation; is it inimitable? Comparisons with Freud are unavoidable, because he established a pattern of excellence. One may safely state that Freud had a gift of graciously furnishing a “flowing feature” to his writings.

These had some remarkable, albeit superficial, similarities with the work of writers, so it was not by mere coincidence that Freud won a literature prize; that many people, impacted by what is a mere appearance, concluded that he specialised in writing a kind of roman à clef; and finally, that many people from the intelligentsia became convinced that psychoanalysis and literature were the same thing.

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