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Chapter Eight: Foundation and framework

Richard J. Alapack Karnac Books ePub

Nobody has to agree with Jacques Lacan in order to agree with him … that Sigmund Freud is a “luminary” irreducible to a medical positivist. Agree with him, too, that we must read Freud on his own terms and remove from his texts both medico-biological glosses and ideological prejudices. It behooves us to see the luminary in the correct light. Lacan puts it simply: Read Freud and get him right (1966a/1977).

One bone of contention between Lacan, the International Psychoanalytic, and Freudians in general—is the status of the todestrieb. Was Freud falling victim to an avalanche of grief when he turned from hysteria to depression? Was he especially sorrowful when he wrote Beyond the Pleasure Principle? In 1920, his beloved daughter, Sophie, his “Sunday’s child” dies after a four-day illness at the age of twenty-six. Something in him permanently died, he says. He writes to Ludwig Binswanger that he had never gotten over “the monstrous fact of children dying before their parents” (Derrida, 1987, p. 331). In a few short years Sophie’s second son, Heinerle dies at age four and a half. He is Freud’s favourite, his preferred grandson, “the preferred son of the preferred daughter … the most intelligent child he had ever encountered … Heinerle dies. On 19 June 1923; Freud is seen to cry. For the only time” (Derrida, 1987, pp. 333–334).

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Chapter Twenty One: Unmasking regret’s lie

Richard J. Alapack Karnac Books ePub

In the preceding chapters, I have dragged regret from pillar to post. I delve into it thoroughly, not only because it is incredibly common in everyday life, but also because it is largely neglected in mainstream psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis. More importantly, and as mentioned previously, it holds that middle position of supplanting grief but being qualitatively different from depression.

The labour of grieving eventually culminates. Grief-work is terminable. Freud’s unconvincing capitulation to a naturalistic psychic wear-out makes sense on the grounds that the Maestro knows the musical score has to come to an end. Sorrow, I have argued, is the optimal resolution. We forgive, feel forgiven, and hold the dear one close in her absence. Sorrow springs the trap on distorted memories. It brings us genuinely into the calm and serenity of truth. Depression betokens the inability to forgive and eventuates in the untruth of living as split. Consequently, someone or another takes the brunt of our negativity, even as we berate and punish ourselves. Regret is the orienting disposition in-between. The explanation of this is not one sentence long.

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Chapter Thirteen: Malignant currency

Richard J. Alapack Karnac Books ePub

Natural and man-made disasters kill massively and randomly. Grief follows in their train. Daily, the media flashes words and agonizing images of natural disasters: floods in Bangladesh, India, and North Korea; tsunamis and typhoons in Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, China and Southeast Asia; cyclones in Burma, Bangladesh, droughts-cum-famine in Dar-fur, Australia, and the former U.S.S.R.; hurricanes in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic coast, and New Orleans; earthquakes in China, Kashmir, Peru, San Francisco, Mallipo Beach in South Korea; fires in Greece and Southern California; Tornadoes in the Midwest, South, and Southwestern USA.

Man-made disasters also is riddle planet earth—oil haemorrhages from Valdez, Alaska, to Galicia, Spain, to the Guimares Strait in the Philippines, to the Shetland Islands off the north shore of Scotland, to Galveston Bay, Texas, to the San Francisco Bay, to the waters of South Korea. Miners trapped underground in China, West Virginia and Utah. Killings wrought by terrorism and counter-terrorism. The cycles of revenge and counter-revenge that spin ceaselessly worldwide. Plane crashes, trains de-railed, automobile accidents … Murder; torture; suicide.

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Chapter One: Grief: The algebra of loss

Richard J. Alapack Karnac Books ePub

Death has paid a visit. Devastating deprivation assaults my entire existence. I am in agony. Grief is swallowing me up. Since time immemorial, humankind knows it is sorrow’s season, the time to mourn. Our haste to forget, documented in the academic debate about continuing bonds, merely reflects ignorance about the a-temporal and indestructible dimensions of experience. It shows a poverty of wisdom about the human predicament. We ordinary humans must learn how to live with loss and with the persistent presence of our deceased beloved in memory and in our actions (Lingis, 2007) The deceased is not gone like a piece of equipment or any ready-to-hand item. I will remain with her continually, in a mode of respectful solicitude (Heidegger, 1927/1962).

Grief is the natural spontaneous psychological response to the loss of the loss. What do I mean? If I do not know that I have lost my wallet, I have no emotions to express about the pickpocket who, at this very moment and at my expense, is eating a salmon fillet with rice, green beans, and a bottle of French white wine in the city’s most chic restaurant. As soon as I realize it is missing, look for it where I think I probably placed it, search frantically because it is not there, realize that my driver’s license, my credit cards, my passport are in it, and remember that foolishly I was carrying with me too much cash … then comes the reaction to the loss. When the loss is more serious than my measly wallet with a few thousand dollars in it, it transforms my world. The loss or death of a loved one, which leaves a gaping hole in my world, is of that ilk. Part of my self is missing, whatever meaning that dead person took with her. A truly significant loss carves a Hole in the Whole.

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Chapter Eleven: Towards an alternative approach to intervention

Richard J. Alapack Karnac Books ePub

Intervention is the right word. At root, it means to enter into the midst of what is happening. Whenever that happening happens to be grief, it is truly splendid to have someone come in … intending to help and actually helping. The $64,000 dollar question is, “What precisely is the healing touch?”

In Chapter six, in the context of talking with Nicole about her Nana’s death, I offer my standpoint on authentic dialogue in the “moment” of grief. The theme of therapeutic intervention, however, requires this separate chapter. I now expand my discussion beyond talking with my precious daughter. In a nutshell, I forge past the limits of mainstream medico-behavioural psychology’s short-term, quick-fix approach, the drive to adjust and cope, the haste to forget, and the need to obliterate pain. The same standpoint that roots the entire substance and style of this book, both its research tactics and choices of writing-genre, inspires my viewpoint on care. Thinking and in-depth understanding must precede doing, so that therapeutic intervention would be sane and wholesome. I affirm that to approach grief without honouring psyche, seele, soul … is insane.

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