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The Kleinian view of the superego

James S. Grotstein Karnac Books ePub

While Klein retained Freud's view that the superego becomes heir to the resolution of the whole object psychology of the Oedipus complex in the late phallic phase, she also realized that archaic superego precursors seem to emerge in part-object psychology in early infancy. Whereas Freud's superego seems to contain the values and ideals that the child acquires from its parents and heritage, Klein's archaic superego seems to be its more primitive forbear. Where Freud's superego, which he earlier considered to be the ego ideal (Freud, 1913c, 1914g), responds with guilt, Klein's initially responds with persecutory anxiety while the infant is in the paranoid-schizoid position and only responds with guilt after the infant has attained the depressive position. She formulated that the archaic superego develops from the infant's projection of varying aspects of its personality (hatred, love, greed, envy, neediness, sadism, and so on) into the object, along with omnipotence, omniscience, and intentionality or will. When this thus compounded image is internalized and identified with, it becomes an overpowering wilful archaic superego. The omniscience and authority of the superego come from the projective identification of the infant's omnipotence; its powerful will comes from the projective identification of the infant's intentionality. Later in this section I hypothesize another possible origin of the archaic superego: imagine the infant as a ventriloquist who unconsciously projects his voice through the image of the external object. The infant hears his own voice in disguise. I

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Infantile sexuality versus infantile dependency and the Kleinian view of the Oedipus complex

James S. Grotstein Karnac Books ePub

Whereas the concept of infantile sexuality predominates in orthodox and classical thinking about the infant's (actually, the child's) state of mind, Kleinian/Bionians believe that, more often than not, sexuality screens and defends against the awareness of infantile states of dependency and neediness. Thus, sexual material in any analytic session would be more likely to be regarded by them as the analysand's attempt to even out his relationship with the analyst by invoking a sexual connection in order to defend against the hierarchical (one up, the other down) position that the experience of dependency evokes. Freud (1905d) himself theorized that the onset of infantile autoerotism (infantile sexuality) is precipitated by the advent of the infant's experience of being weaned from its mother's breast.

Klein did, in fact, originally employ Freud's theory of infantile sexuality and enthusiastically endowed the oral as well as the anal stages with part-object relations phantasies, amplifying and extending the ideas of her analyst, Karl Abraham (1924), whose own endeavours in this area prefigured what is now called “object-relations theory”. It is only when she discovered the depressive position (1935) and then its forerunner, the paranoid-schizoid position (1946), that Klein marginalized autoerotic markers of infant development for the posi240

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Medium 9781855754485

7 Bion on technique

James S. Grotstein Karnac Books ePub

Bion’s contributions to psychoanalytic technique are complex, innovative, profound, and worthy of intense and repeated study. I do not think that I exaggerate when I state that his formulations on technique constitute the most radical paradigm change in psychoanalysis, yet one must acknowledge, as does Paulo Sandler (2005), that some of Bion’s ideas on technique do have Freud’s concepts as their provenance. Psychoanalysis prior to Bion was, however, largely a left-hemisphere technique (text as opposed to process), in spite of Freud’s (1915e) hints about unconscious-to-unconscious communication during analysis. Bion, a keen observer (left-hemisphere: “observation”, “sense”), described a right-hemispheric analytic technique (“attention”, “reverie”, “intuition”)—a state-of-the-art process that continues to impress the world of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.

Bion’s recommendations on technique

Very succinctly, Bion offers five suggestions in relation to technique:

A. Use sense, myth, and passion when conducting an analysis. Sense refers to the use of keen observation by any and/or all the senses. Myth refers to the particular mythic template that may be found to organize and join together the analytic object, the O of the session, which in Kleinian terms is the maximum unconscious anxiety. Bion (1992) suggests that the analyst search for and store myths as the equivalent of a scientific deductive system with regard to psychoanalysis (p. 238). Myths also subtend conscious and unconscious phantasies. Passion designates the analyst’s fluctuating emotional state in resonance with the emotions of the patient. As we shall see, Bion recommends the use of two forms of observation by the analyst: emotional and objective—that is, intuition and attention.

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The importance of the Kleinian concepts of greed, envy, and jealousy

James S. Grotstein Karnac Books ePub

Reflecting upon her work with infants and children as well as with adults, Klein (1957) began to realize that greed and envy played a dominant role both in normal development and in pathology. Greed represents the exaggeration or hyperbole of need (need plus excessive anxiety) and can become unintentionally damaging to the object, whereas envy represents the subject's resentment of the object for being good and needed. She differentiates envy from jealousy by assigning envy to the early two-person situation and jealousy to the three participants in the oedipal situation. Klein (1957) believed that both envy and greed owe their origin to the death instinct (pp. 190-191).

It is my clinical impression that envy is not really directed primarily towards an object per se, only towards the object as a reminder (signifier) of what the envying subject believes is lacking in himself. As a result of feeling envy towards the object, one begins to hate it and attempts to damage or mutilate its image so as to equalize the relationship and diminish one's sense of shameful and dangerous neediness. Greed and envy can be projected into the object and thereby transform (concordantly) the object into an insatiably demanding or possessive object and/or and enviously destructive object respectively. Furthermore, once the infantile portion of the personality submits to envious feelings with regard to the now envied object, feelings of anger but also of shame emerge. The envious infant becomes shamefully ridiculed by an internal superego object. Put another way, shame is the other side of envy.

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Psychic retreats or pathological organizations

James S. Grotstein Karnac Books ePub

Herbert Rosenfeld (1987), Donald Meltzer (1978), and more recently John Steiner (1993) began realizing that chronic resistances in analysis and the negative therapeutic reaction could be set into operation by a sabotaging cluster or organization of internal objects known variously as the “mafia”, “gang”,1 “pathological organization”, or “psychic retreat”. Their ideas followed in the footsteps of Wilhelm Reich's (1928) concept of “character armour”. Steiner believes that this pathological organization owes its origin to a failure on the infant's part to achieve the depressive position; thus, the psychic retreat constitutes an intermediate position between the paranoid-schizoid (P-S) and the depressive positions (D). I understand this concept as homologous to Fairbairn's (1944) “internal saboteur” specifically and as “endopsychic structures” generally, and as having originated as a Faustian bargain or a bargain with the devil in order to be safe-that is, the infant's “prophylactic”, selective identification with the intolerable traits of his mother and/or father in order to “purify” them and keep them ideal, because they are needed.

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