411 Slices
Medium 9781855751705

CHAPTER FOUR. Alone among three: the father and the Oedipus complex

Gillian Wilce Karnac Books ePub

Graham Lee

There is a paradox at the heart of psychoanalysis. It is a field in which we try to use a finite, knowing, public language to fix and make sense of internal experiences that are infinite, private, and perhaps fundamentally unknowable. I am particularly drawn to Winnicott’s theories because his model holds this essential paradox at its core. In my view, Winnicott’s theory, with its enigmatic focus on the importance of paradox and its sensitive evocation of the mother-infant relationship, is one that approaches, within the confines of descriptive language, the fluid and dynamic experience of human psychological development. Winnicott’s model is a psychology of dialectical meanings, a psychology that develops from the infant’s experience of merger and oneness in tension with the experience of mother and twoness. In the consulting-room, I readily draw on Winnicott’s ideas when I experience myself, in the transference and countertransference, one moment as the patient’s symbiotic or narcissistic object and the next as his or her mother (or primary other). Working with such psychological tension or paradox can be a rich and facilitating perspective. However, what about the experience of the father and of threeness? In spite of the frequent references in his writing to the work of Freud, Winnicott’s focus is directed firmly away from the role of the father and an appreciation of the Oedipus complex in psychological development. If, then, I am confronted in the clinical situation with an oedipal transference, must I dispense with Winnicott and look for another theoretical perspective? Or is there a way in which I can link the oedipal to Winnicott’s ideas? In view of the important challenge to the apparent absence of the father in much of psychoanalytic theory since Freud (Samuels, 1985, 1989, 1993), I believe that there is a need for an account of the father, the primal scene, and the Oedipus complex in a language that draws upon the subtlety of Winnicott’s ideas. In this chapter, I explore ways in which oedipal theory can be used to inform or develop our understanding of Winnicott’s model, in particular extending his ideas about the role of paradox.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781574415247

Chapter 1. Unwrapping

Kathryn U. Hulings University of North Texas Press PDF

Unwrapping

Michael came wrapped in layers, too many for a pleasant spring day. Even indoors, a small knitted cap was secured over his ears with yarn tied in a sloppy bow underneath his chin, brushing up against a matching sweater buttoned high on his neck. There was a small bead of sweat on his brow, but he seemed parched; a blister festered on his lower lip and, in the fluorescent lights, his skin was a dusky shade of pale yellow swirled with pasty blue. Where his head had been shaved on the sides to accommodate an IV tube insertion a few days earlier, I could see pea-green veins throb in a nervous, thirsty flow. About half an hour earlier, before I held Michael in my arms, I had met his escort, a close relative of his, who was also blanketed in perspiration from her trek through the labyrinth of Stapleton Airport.

It was not difficult to spot this small, winded woman and the quiet infant she carried on her bosom like a backwards papoose. In addition to the baby, she lugged a large blue duffel bag over her shoulder. Exiting the terminal ramp, she had a lost, searching look, not unlike a child on the first day of kindergarten who, before entering the classroom, peers over her shoulder to make sure Mommy is still there, waving her on, nodding in assurance. I was not sure if this woman, whose voice I’d heard, but whose face I’d never seen, was looking backwards for comfort or forward for closure; either way, I ached for her.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781574415247

Chapter 8. Learning

Kathryn U. Hulings University of North Texas Press PDF

Learning

I wrote and hand delivered a letter to Michael’s elementary school prin-

cipal after he brought home a project on Native Americans, complete with a Crayola picture of a chief in feathers and war paint, and a story scratched out in his emerging block print. The project was intended to provide a sample of his work, proof of progress or not, and a prompt for discussion at his upcoming Individual Education Plan (IEP). And, what a piece of work it was. The first and only line read, “My name is

Crazy Horse because I like to act crazy.” My letter to the principal suggested, that perhaps, just maybe, it might have been a good idea to teach the kids that Crazy Horse was a courageous Lakota named for his father, to talk a bit about Little Big Horn, and to mention the monument in

South Dakota. I wrote quickly, because I didn’t want this issue to cloud my son’s IEP which was within a week. I wrote deliberately, nearly breaking my pencil as I pushed words onto paper. I wrote stoically, because I believed the warrior I was becoming needed to refuse to cry.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781576751794

CHAPTER 23: CONSULTANTS

Stewart Levine Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains.

The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.

—William Ward

Consultants are teachers. Great consultants tell, explain, demonstrate, and inspire. They operate on the premise that it is better to teach someone how to fish than to throw them a fish when they are hungry. Consultants have become an important part of our personal and professional lives. I used to trust the consultants I engaged to manage the consulting relationship by setting appropriate expectations. My assumption was that having done this many times before, they understood the importance of managing the relationship. I have learned through some disappointing experiences that most consultants are no different from the general population. They are not good at establishing a joint vision of the project, setting expectations, and managing the consultative engagement.

Perhaps I’m hypercritical because I am so conscious of the nature of agreement, or perhaps I’m just a demanding client. I know we would all be better served if we had clear agreements that reflect what we currently believe is the road map to the expected results, a clear understanding of the process, and, most important, a clear idea of what may change as we begin the work. As a patient, you always sign a general consent form before a surgical procedure because the surgeon cannot know exactly what will be discovered once the procedure starts. Consulting projects are no different. 144

See All Chapters
Medium 9781576751794

CHAPTER 30: LAWYERS

Stewart Levine Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Lawyers spend a great deal of their time shoveling smoke.

—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The truth Holmes was pointing to was a lawyer’s ability to cloud something simple in the smoke of arcane theory that sounds erudite but no one quite understands. As a “recovering” lawyer, I think I understand most of the nuances of hiring a lawyer. One key to effectively engaging a lawyer is to make sure they can listen and understand the kind of outcome you want. (This is not really unique to hiring a lawyer; the same thing applies to a hair cutter or a gardener.) You want them to listen and follow your instructions. It’s your transaction, not the lawyer’s. You must choose someone who truly understands that and is willing to be guided by your values, not theirs.

Another key to effective representation is to avoid hourly billing. I believe there is an inherent conflict of interest in hourly billing. It doesn’t matter how ethical or righteous the professional is; the conflict is there. This statement is even finding its way into the legal trade magazines as lawyers begin to return to billing based on value of the service provided. Here’s a good template to follow when you find the right person. 174

See All Chapters

See All Slices