30 Chapters
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The overarching role of unconscious phantasy

James S. Grotstein Karnac Books ePub

In the Kleinian/Bionian way of thinking, all internal transactions within the infant, between infant and mother, infant and world, and between objects in the world are represented as unconscious phantasies. All defence mechanisms themselves constitute unconscious phantasies about the interrelationship between internal objects, and between them and the self. Unconscious phantasies constitute moving narrative images and arise during the pre-lexical hegemony of imagery (Shlain, 1998). They and the objects that they choreograph are believed to be concrete (actual), since they originate during the hegemony of that stage of infant development that can be characterized as a “cyclopean” or “oneeyed”, absolutist perspective, which has been termed by Freud (1924d, p. 1791) and then Segal (1957, 1981) as “symbolic equations”. Perhaps one can better comprehend the Kleinian/Bionian use of phantasy in the following way:

A. Unconscious phantasies are the initial sensory (usually visual but also auditory and other) narrative transformations of inner and outer sense impressions or stimuli.

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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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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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The clinical instruments in Dr Bion's treatment bag

James S. Grotstein Karnac Books ePub

Abstraction & formalization: Connotes the progression from the elemental or concrete to a more advanced level of thinking that allows for generalization and metaphor and prepares the way for correlation with other ideas. “Abstraction, then, can be seen as a step in publication which facilitates correlation by comparison of the representation that has been abstracted with a number of different realizations none of which is the realization from which the representation was originally abstracted” (Bion, 1962b, p. 50).

Analytic object: the symptom of the session. The patient's unconscious experience of his emotional pain at any given analytic moment. It is an alternative term for the experience of O, the Absolute Truth about an Ultimate Reality, which has just intersected the patient's emotional frontier and needs to be “contained”, “alpha-beta-ized” by “alpha-function” and thereby transformed into “alpha-elements”, then “dreamed” by the analyst so as to render it mentalizable. The analytic object is detected by the analyst's use of “sense, myth, and passion”, which means the results of: (a) the analyst's observation of the patient, (b) the analyst's use of the psychoanalytic fund of myths-that is, the Oedipus complex-to uncover the patient's unconscious phantasies, and (c) the detection by the use of the analyst's own passion (emotion or suffering) to detect that of the patient.

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Projective trans identification

James S. Grotstein Karnac Books ePub

It is a very remarkable thing that the Ucs. of one human being can react upon that of another, without passing through the Cs. [Freud, 1915e, p. 194]

There is for instance, the phenomenon of thought-transference, which is close to telepathy and without much dispute can indeed be regarded as the same thing. In thought transference mental processes in one person, such as ideas, emotional states, conative1impulses, etc., can be transmitted to another person through empty space without employing the familiar methods of communication by means of words and signs. [Freud, 1933a, pp. 39-40]

In projective identification proper, the projecting subject, in unconscious phantasy, omnipotently projectively re-identifies aspects of itself, either good or bad, or itself altogether, in its own internal image of the external object with which its image is confused (transference). The projecting subject may avoid contact with real individuals because they remind him of unwanted aspects of himself or, conversely, he may seek out individuals who may embody those unwanted traits in order not to lose contact with that discarded aspect of himself. Characteristically, analysands may realistically detect negative traits in the analyst and project into them, according to Klein (1955), a phenomenon known as projecting into reality (p. 341).

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