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9. A note on analytic receptivity (1968)

Donald Meltzer Karnac Books ePub

The role of visual perception of the patients material at the expense of the verbal is delineated, and the importance is stressed of developing a sensitivity specific to the verbal expressions of the unconscious.

Awide experience of supervising other analysts and students has helped me to recognize in myself. In my own work, certain strengths and weaknesses in analytic receptivity, one of which, now that it has begun to improve a bit, I would like to describe.

Although certainly collateral senses such as smell or postural sense play some part in analytic communication, by far the most important are auditory and visual. I have an impression that analysts generally fall into two categories— verbal and visual—in regard to the material with which they work most easily. The writings of the two greatest analysts, Freud and Melanie Klein, suggest a strong divergence in their sensitivity in these areas, Freud being astonishingly sensitive to verbal nuance, while Melanie Klein seems to have had a primarily visual imagination, particularly well suited to work with children. This can most clearly be seen in the dream material from their writings, say in “Dora” (Freud, 1905 [1901]), as compared with Envy and Gratitude (Klein, 1957).

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Medium 9781855756199

XIV. Recovery from Analysis and the Self-analytic Method

Donald Meltzer Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

The dictum that the patient’s neurosis is converted into a transference neurosis of which the analysis endeavours to cure him, may be an oversimplification but it has more than a grain of truth in it. In so far as the analysis enables the patient to gather together into a single relationship the diverse threads of his infantile transference tendencies, it can be seen to make a concentration of infantile need, anxiety and affect which has every resemblance to an illness. Where this replaces processes of symptom formation that were hampering the patient’s activities and relationships in the outside world, it may appear as a benefit to the disinterested observer. But where the emotional disorder in the personality has been bound in character or in patterns of relationship, the concentration and potentiation of the transference processes made possible by the psycho-analytical setting may show as an illness in a person previously considered well and well-adjusted by family and friends. This is perhaps most often seen in people who come to analysis not from motives of therapy, but for professional reasons of one sort or another.

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Medium 9781855759688

8. The relation of dreaming to learning from experience in patient and analyst

Donald Meltzer Karnac Books ePub

Donald Meltzer

In analysis we usually study dreams to gain access to processes of thinking that concern the patient’s emotional conflicts. But every once in a while, particularly with patients who are students of analysis or are professionally interested in the analytic method itself, a different sort of dream arises. These are dreams that seem to reflect the patient’s thinking about how his mind works. They are what might be called “theoretical” dreams; they are not about psychoanalysis proper but the patient’s own theory about his experience of his mind’s operation.

Throughout the history of psychoanalysis, the so-called “theories of the mind” have been the changing models of the mental apparatus that analysts think they are using in listening to, observing and trying to understand their patients and themselves. Freud’s own models changed during the course of his work. The first model postulated by him resembled some kind of telephone exchange and this he elaborated, before he started on his psychoanalytic work, in what is known as “The Project for a Scientific Psychology”. This was a neurologist’s model and was concerned with the apparatus that conducts messages in the brain; it had nothing to do with the meaning of the messages but only with the way in which the messages were distributed and conducted through the neural network. Once he embarked upon analytic work he elaborated a second theory which was, in a way, a supplement to the first, namely the Libido theory. This was a theory about the distribution of “mental energy” in which mental energy and sexual excitation were more or less equated with one another. But then, in the course of his work, he discovered that the central problem was conflict which had various configurations; conflict between what he called the ego and the outside world; conflict between the ego and the superego; and between the ego and the instincts. So he elaborated the Structural Theory (in the 1920s) in which he spoke of the ego as serving three masters. This envisaged the mind as an apparatus for conciliation whose central function was to reconcile the demands coming from these three directions—a negotiating instrument. It seemed natural, from the employment of that model, that this central part of the mind, the ego, should then be viewed as being mainly concerned with maintaining peace of mind (the Nirvana principle). None of the models he devised took any serious account of emotionality and its meaning—this was left for Melanie Klein to develop in her theory of the internal world. This was a great advance since it envisaged the mind as a kind of internal theatre with figures entering into emotional relationships and conflicts with one another, from which meaning was generated and deployed into the external world and external relationships. What the theory lacked was any interest in, or concern with, the thinking processes themselves; it seemed to take for granted that the mind was able to think, to perform thinking functions, as if that were not a problem for psychoanalytical investigation but could be left to the philosophers and academic psychologists.

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Medium 9781855756786

XIV. Review: Catastrophic Change and the Mechanisms of Defence

Donald Meltzer Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

In order to bring to an end this study of the development of Bion’s model of the mind, it is necessary to attempt to clarify the concept which is probably most central and least mentioned of all his ideas. Except for the paper titled ‘Catastrophic Change’ which he read to the British Psycho-analytical Society in 1966, and which incidentally, in its body never mentions the concept of the title, this phrase appears nowhere in the books. And yet all the books are about it, just as ‘Attention and Interpretation’ is certainly about attention, although it is never mentioned in the text. The paper ‘Catastrophic Change’ was a prelude to ‘Attention’ and is virtually identical to Chapter 12. Insofar as its focus is upon the relationship of container and contained, in the individual and in his relationship to the group, the dread of change and the tendency for change to manifest itself as catastrophe is brought out more clearly than in the later book chapter entitled ‘Container and Contained Transformed’. Bion’s model of container and contained must be juxtaposed to his idea that the truth does not require a thinker to exist, but rather that the thinker needs to find the truth as an idea which he can make grow in his mind. Among the ideas which exist in the world awaiting thinkers are certain ones which, from the religious-historical vertex, he chooses to call ‘messianic’ ideas. The relationship of container to contained in the individual, in so far as ideas institute a conflict between thought and the impulse to action, is not so observable in the ordinary course of events, but becomes dramatically manifest when an idea of messianic significance enters. In order to describe these processes of catastrophic change induced by the messianic idea Bion employs the congruent relationship of the individual mystic to his group. The group, as container, must find some means of expanding to hold this new phenomenon in order, on the one hand, not to crush or squeeze or denude the messianic idea, or similarly to destroy the mystic or ‘sink him without a trace, loaded with honours’. But it also must avoid being fragmented or exploded by the mystic or the messianic idea. These relations of container to contained, whether of experiences in the individual, the individual in a group, the meaning in a word, the significance in a symbol, or the passion in a relationship - in whatever dimension of container and contained, the relationship can be categorized as parasitic, symbiotic or commensal. His application of these biological ideas to the realm of the mind is this: (Scientific Bulletin of the Brit. Psa. Soc., No. 5, 1966, p. 21)

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4. A contribution to the metapsychology of cyclothymic states (1963)

Donald Meltzer Karnac Books ePub

Detailed clinical examples from a 5½-year analysis illustrate the nature of internal objects that underlies the tendency to regress from obsessional organizations to hypomarxia. The basis of mania in unconscious phantasy expresses itself by a tendency to turn against good internal objects with oral greeddue to unintegrated primal envywith the aim of violently removing a structure integral to the breast felt to be penis-like, co-extensive with the nipple, and a source of strength, creativity, and Judgement in the mother. The breast-penis, because it is not retained after being stolen without becoming highly persecuting, is projected into father’s penis, which becomes idealized and an object of greed at all levels and zones. The breast, now reduced to being a passive container, is open to further attacks, since love and admiration for it have greatly diminished.

A

considerable body of knowledge has been built up on the metapsychology of cyclothymic states, in both the symptomatic (manic-depressive psychosis) and characterologic (cyclothymic character) forms, through the contributions of Freud, Abraham, Klein, Lewin, Helene Deutsch, Fenichel, and Schilder. to mention only a few of the major investigators who have taken a special interest in this area.

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