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Medium 9781780490090

17: The child psychotherapist and the patient’s family

Bick, Esther; Harris, Martha Harris Meltzer Trust ePub


Practical matters of setting and communication are first considered, then attention is paid to underlying unconscious communications between family and therapist, clarifying the role of therapy as something that supports rather than interfering with the child’s relationship with his parents. The process of transferring anxieties and working in the transference is described by means of two clinical cases (a ten-year-old boy and a sixteen-year-old girl), followed by one example of consultation with parents and child in which the therapist’s role is specifcally “to help the parents use the unrivalled experience they have of their own child.”

Those of us who work with children are more dependent on the co-operation of the patient’s family than is the adult therapist as a rule. If the patient is a young child it is usually the mother, sometimes the father, who has to bring the child to treatment; the older child or adolescent still needs parental backing and encouragement at times to continue during difcult periods.

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Medium 9781855757844

CHAPTER FIVE: Money-Kyrle's concept of misconception

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Introduction by Jon Morgan Stokkeland and
Lars Thorgaard

How is it that a concept, such as Money-Kyrle's of “misconceptions”, can be of such extreme importance for our understanding of the psychoanalytic attitude? Meltzer poses the question, and he also gives elements of the answers, in this important discussion of Money-Kyrle's paper on “Cognitive Development”. He writes with tenderness and care about the influence that Money-Kyrle had both personally and professionally on himself, on his own work and on his psychoanalytic attitude.

Psychoanalytic theory, he writes, is influenced by “harsh and puritanical aspects that can enter in such a judgemental way into our work”. Meltzer wants us to use the concept of misconception to “increase the awareness of the complexity and the inefable aspects of our work” and to help us “to distance ourselves even further from the vice of explanation, contenting ourselves with description and partial comprehension”. Money-Kyrle's paper suggests “that innocent, unintentional misunderstandings, based on primal misconceptions growing out of early developmental experience, can seriously distort the entire structure of 'cognitive development'” [our italics].

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Medium 9781855753105

2. The evolution of Psyche

Williams, Meg Harris Karnac Books ePub

The tragic element in the aesthetic experience resides, not in the transience, but in the enigmatic quality of the object: “Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips / Bidding adieu.” Is it a truthful object that is always reminding the lover of the transience, or a tantalizing one, like La Belle Dame? The aesthetic conflict is different from the romantic agony in this respect: that its central experience of pain resides in uncertainty, tending towards distrust, verging on suspicion. The lover is naked as Othello to the whisperings of Iago but is rescued by the quest for knowledge, the K-link, the desire to know rather than possess the object of desire. The K-link points to the value of the desire as itself the stimulus to knowledge, not merely as a yearning for gratification and control over the object. Desire makes it possible, even essential, to give the object its freedom.

Donald Meltzer1

The genesis of the Romantic poets’ view of the aesthetic object— the Muse with her storehouse of poetic images—lay in Satan’s description of Eve in Paradise Lost:

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Medium 9781855757844

CHAPTER TWELVE: Signs, symbols and allegory

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Introduction by Grete Tangen Andersen, Morten
Andersen, Trond Holm, Jon Morgan Stokkeland,
Lilian Stokkeland, Eirik Tjessem

In this selection of extracts from some of his later papers and talks, Meltzer elaborates on the essential distinction between signs and symbols. This is perhaps a good place to start for new students of his work: it marks the difference between mind and mindlessness; mindlessness here signifying all the essential adaptational and conventional processes (the use of signs) which do not require the meaning-generating and symbol-forming mind.

This vital distinction has many diferent roots and ramifca-tions. Among the sources that he mentions are Wittgenstein´s linguistic philosophy, Cassirer and Langer on symbolic forms, and—of course—Bion's work. One of the many, and highly interconnected, implications is the difference between received (conventional) symbols and autonomous (original) symbols. What distinguishes the autonomous symbols is that they “are created in the mind of the speaker.” It makes one wonder; how is it that simple and even conventional words uttered, suddenly become true and meaningful? To convey emotional meaning by language is “not just a matter of symbol, not just a matter of words; it is also a matter of the music”. This leads on to the relation between “saying it” and “meaning it” (Wittgenstein, 1953)—being sincere—and to Bion´s distinction between “learning from experience” and “learning about”. Learning from experience rests upon symbol formation, which in its essence is an intuitive and mysterious process. It cannot be controlled or negotiated. This gives an answer to the question about what kind of science psychoanalysis is: an observational and descriptive science—it cannot explain and predict.

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Medium 9781782202257

Appendix 1: Roger Money-Kyrle

Money-Kyrle, Roger Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Donald Meltzer

‘I think both criticisms exaggerate an element of truth which each side has gradually become more able to admit’ (Psychoanalysis and Philosophy). This type of statement recurs throughout the work of Roger Money-Kyrle and perhaps expresses better than any more lengthy statement could do the essential quality of the man and his contribution to psychoanalysis and modern thought. ‘Criticisms exaggerate’, ‘element of truth’, ‘gradually’, ‘able to admit’ – let us examine a moment the credo that is contained in these few words.

‘Criticisms exaggerate’: from his earliest philosophical paper on, one can see that Mr Money-Kyrle was convinced that judgment about the world, and about ourselves and our fellow men, is adversely affected by our hostility. The wish to find fault, as an expression of envy in particular, but driven also by submission to our persecutors, blinds us to the virtues of our enemies and the faults of our allies. The papers of the war and post-war period are deeply concerned to understand the phenomena of Nazism and Appeasement alike.

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