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24 Fetal mental life and its caesura with postnatal mental life

James S. Grotstein Karnac Books ePub

Bion, ever the imaginative explorer of both ends of the spectrum of conceptions with the use of his technique of the reversible perspective, began to ponder even more deeply the ultimate headwaters of the river of life, the origin of the individual psyche beyond and before the caesura of birth, supported by Freud’s (1926d) statement: “There is much more continuity between intra-uterine life and earliest infancy than the impressive caesura of the act of birth allows us to believe” (p. 138). Bion first presented his imaginative speculations on fetal mental life in Caesura (1977a), where he not only introduced the possibility of fetal mental life but also emphasized the many facets and functions of the caesura. He asks: “Is there any part of the human mind which still betrays signs of an ‘embryological’ intuition, either visual or auditory?” (p. 44).

After speculating at length about the possibility of there being such a thing as fetal mental life and hinging his speculation largely on the early fetal formation of the optic and auditory pits (the forerunners of sight and sound, respectively), Bion observes:

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22 Clinical example 15

James S. Grotstein Karnac Books ePub

Albert Mason

Clinical examples 15–18 constitute a “showcase” for the demonstration of comparative psychoanalytic techniques within the Kleinian → post-Kleinian →Bionian spectrum. I invite the reader to pay close attention, not just to these analysts’ interventions, but also to the subtlety of their thinking about their cases.

The brief case presentations in this and the following chapter illustrate how a classical Kleinian works. Albert Mason was trained in the British Institute of Psychoanalysis and was analysed by Hanna Segal, and the reader will quickly recognize that his work belongs in the classical Kleinian oeuvre. I personally have been very influenced by him. He was my first Kleinian supervisor and became, following Bion’s abrupt departure, my analyst. The following two cases are from his as yet unpublished work, “Transference”.]

A28-year-old woman walked rapidly into my consulting room early one Monday morning following a weekend break. She had been in analysis for six months and had come originally fearing a recurrence of a psychotic breakdown that had taken place seven years previously. She walked unusually briskly into the room and, after lying down, started to talk even before I had reached my chair. “It is nice and quiet and peaceful here, and you seem pleased to see me”, she said, “but you have put on weight!”

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15 Clinical example 8

James S. Grotstein Karnac Books ePub

presented by a colleague

ADAPTIVE CONTEXT: Continuation of Clinical example 7. Third of five sessions. The analysand is writing vigorously after a long dry spell. This week, after a long delay, she followed through on her contacts with writing agents. It seems that she is on the verge of publishing her work. (The analyst, unbeknownst to her, is preparing to teach a course on dreams.)

JSG’s private thoughts: The reader will undoubtedly recall the previously reported session of this analysand. I therefore ask the reader to suspend his memory and pretend, not only that this is the first time they have encountered this analysand’s associations, but that this is, paradoxically, the first session of the analysis again! This state of mind is required of the analyst, according to Bion, to allow for the surfacing of the ever-emerging unknown, O.

Analysand: It feels like I have nothing to say, can’t think of anything to say (unusual for her). (Long pause.) Oh! I had a bit of a dream: I’m in a summerhouse. There’s a shortage of something, but I’m exempt. I don’t know what the shortage was. Maybe something like mobility. It doesn’t make any sense.

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The psychoanalytic session as a dream, as improvisational theatre, and as sacred drama

James S. Grotstein Karnac Books ePub

The psychoanalytic session can be thought of as a dream in its own right (dreams are continuous by night and throughout wakefulness, according to Bion, 1970) and is consequently interpretable via dream analysis. Freud (1911c) states that in an analytic session the dream should be treated no differently than the analysand's free associations (p. 92). Bion seemed to think the same and actually expressed this idea to me on more than one occasion. In my own psychoanalytic work and in my supervisions I take this idea for granted. Thus, a dream reported during a session constitutes, in turn, a dream within the dream and is contextualized within the associative matrix of the preceding and succeeding associations to the dream in the session. In other words, the dream within the dream and the surrounding associations “inter-associate” holographically.1 Asking the analysand for associations, although a valid intervention on the part of the analyst, runs the risk of isolating the dream and lifting it from its matrix and context as well as awakening the analysand from his analytic preconscious trance.2

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27 Clinical example 20: “The woman who couldn’t consider”

James S. Grotstein Karnac Books ePub

Thomas Ogden

This fragment of an analysis focuses on three consecutive sessions at the beginning of the sixth year of an analysis conducted five times per week. I present it at greater length than the previous “showcase” contributions because of the way Ogden shows and then comments on how he uses his mind and body as unfailing analytic instruments.

My stomach muscles tensed and I experienced a faint sense of nausea as I heard the rapid footfalls of Ms B racing up the stairs leading to my office. It seemed to me that she was desperate not to miss a second of her session. I had felt for some time that the quantity of minutes she spent with me had to substitute for all of the ways in which she felt unable to be present while with me. Seconds later, I imagined the patient waiting in a state of chafing urgency to get to me. As she led the way from the waiting room into the consulting room, I could feel in my body the patient’s drinking in of every detail of the hallway. I noticed several small flecks of paper from my writing pad on the carpet. I knew that the patient was taking them in and hoarding them “inside” her to silently dissect mentally during and after the session. I felt in a very concrete way that those bits of paper were parts of me that were being taken hostage. (The “fantasies” that I am describing were at this point almost entirely physical sensations as opposed to verbal narratives.)

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