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CHAPTER TWO. Concepts in contemporary psychoanalytic practice

Thierry Bokanowski Karnac Books ePub

There is at present a considerable number of techniques that claim to be able to cure mental suffering and even pride themselves on that fact—hypnosis, Gestalt therapy, Dasein therapy, transactional analysis, micro-psychoanalysis, primal scream, re-birthing, non-analytic relaxation, cognitive and behavioural psychotherapies, etc., to name but a few.

On what grounds can we argue that there exists a crucial difference between psychoanalysis as we know it and these other techniques that all claim to be psychotherapeutic? Unlike any of these, psychoanalysis is the only psychotherapeutic method that, after recognizing the fundamental significance of the Unconscious in the organization of the human mind, invented a specific technique for investigating that Unconscious and its manifest expressions with the help of the conscious and interactive part of the individual. The technique is based on the tendency to repeat inherent in all mental processes, as well as on an essential feature of the instinctual drives: the opportunity to displace cathexes on to new objects.

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2 Splitting, processing loss, and borderline states

Thierry Bokanowski Karnac Books ePub

2

Gérard Bayle

Borderline states involve some degree of instability of the sense of identity both in the individual and in his or her objects. Intra-psychic conflict no longer remains within the confines of neurotic structures; it involves attacks and retreats between the intrapsychic and intersubjective modalities. The frontier between inside and outside is more or less blurred by projection and by projective identification, carried out or endured (Green, 1990).

Given the continuous fluctuation between neurotic and psychotic processes, the aetiology of borderline states involves very many factors. I shall take one of these as the starting point of this chapter: the failure of the work of mourning or, more specifically, that of processing loss. I have been studying this subject for over twenty years now (Bayle, 1988).

Emergency barriers and the impact of loss

When the object is no longer there, the drive-related impulses that were linked to it fall as it were into a void. If that absence is a lasting one, what results is a massive drive-related outflow that may prove fatal. The loss of libido generates so much distress and anxiety that it can lead to helplessness [Hilflosigkeit].

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CHAPTER ONE. Method and practice

Thierry Bokanowski Karnac Books ePub

The practice of psychoanalysis derives in the main from the teachings of its founder. Freud was the first to discover the universal nature of the laws that govern the workings of the unconscious, and analysis came quite rapidly to be defined, in practice, as being linked to the transference and the experience of the transference relationship. The therapeutic dimension was attributed to the application of a specifically psychoanalytic approach based on the transference relationship and its interpretation, and its sole justification was seen to be the underlying theory that both explained how it functioned and made it meaningful.

Freud, transference, and the practice of psychoanalysis

In the early days, when the psychoanalytic approach was first being developed, Freud drew up a number of guidelines and technical rules that were to become the mainstay of analytic practice. The validity of these concepts, developed over less than twenty years (1895-1915), has never since been called into question: on the analysand’s side, to respect the fundamental rule (free association and reporting of dreams), and on the analyst’s, the setting (the couch-and-armchair “space”, regular and frequent sessions of fixed length).

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9 Splitting of the ego and perversion

Thierry Bokanowski Karnac Books ePub

9

Louise Carignan

Freud's views on perversion evolved through successive stages. In the Three Essays (1905d) he conceived of perversion as the persistence in adult life of untamed components of childhood, or “pregenital” sexuality, at the expense of adult genital sexuality. Perversion was contrasted with neurosis, in which these pregenital or perverse impulses were censored. By the 1920s, however, he had modified his views, seeing perversions as regressive defensive formations in relation to the Oedipus complex (Freud, 1919e). Finally, in his late works on fetishism and the splitting of the ego in the process of defence (Freud, 1927e, 1940a [1938], 1940e [1938]), he described disavowal-a mechanism that allows the fetishist to maintain his belief that his mother has a penis and negate the perceptual reality, side by side with acknowledging the fact of sexual differences and drawing the correct conclusions from it. The disavowal of female castration protects the fetishist from the fear of losing his own penis. Rather than hallucinating the missing female penis as would a psychotic, he only transfers the importance or value of the penis onto another part of the female body or another object called a fetish, which then renders the woman tolerable as a sexual object. Freud noted that the “artful” way of dealing with reality at work in disavowal, where two contradictory attitudes coexist without influencing each other, was, however, achieved at the price of a rift in the ego, which persists or increases over time.

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7: Mourning and mental development

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7

Florence Guignard

In this chapter I attempt to redraw the contours of some basic psychoanalytic concepts concerning mental development as opposed to mere adaptation, particularly with regard to Western society as we know it today. From this point of view, the question of the object and its loss in the external world and/or in the internal (psychic) world seems to me to be a crucial one, as is that of symbolization, compared to the extraordinary development in modern times of virtual reality. I shall therefore discuss the disappearance…recent, but now widespread in Western society…of the latency period, and the impact this may have on repression and on the model of the neuroses as the prototype of how the human mind works.

Mourning: an intersection for the mind

Mourning lies at the intersection of several domains that themselves link together various components of mental functioning. It is the outcome of “relationships of relationships”, which, in an earlier paper, I have called a “concept of the third kind” (Guignard, 2001):

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