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7. Defense in Double Time: A Linear Model

Paul Verhaeghe Karnac Books ePub


Both psychotherapy and psychodiagnostics typically focus on the subject's speech and behavior. But far too often this overlooks the way both speech and behavior take place inside a double dialectic: between the subject and the body and between the subject and the Other. In the developmental model described in the previous chapter, we saw how the subject constructs a defense against the experience of un-pleasurable tension right from the outset. This defense is always an attempt to master the drive by means of the Other, principally through the Other's representation of it. At the same time, this defense against and attempted mastery of what Lacan calls (a) is transformed into a defense against and attempted mastery of the Other. In what follows, I will develop this idea of the double defense.

The primary defense lies on the border between the verbal and what is preverbal, and determines the structure of the subject. Such a defense is, in the first instance, directed against something in the subject's own body, that is to say, against an internal arousal that breaks through the homeostasis. This defense makes an appeal to the other. The secondary defense takes place entirely verbally and lays the groundwork for symptom development. This defense implies an important shift: from that moment on, the internal problem is warded off in and through the Other, and its internal aspect becomes almost unrecognizable.

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7. Autistic shapes exemplified in childhood psychopathology

Frances Tustin Karnac Books ePub

Shape without form, shade without colour
Paralysed force, gesture without motion

T.S. Eliot, ‘The Hollow Men’, Collected Poems

This chapter is a revised version of a paper previously published in the International Review of Psycho-Analysis (1984) 11:280-8. It seeks to study a phenomenon which certain autistic children have called ‘shapes’. The nature and function of these ‘shapes’ is investigated, and also the part they play in autistic pathology. Finally, psychoanalytic therapy in which such ‘shapes’ play a part is described.


In the days when I was working as a psychoanalytic child therapist with young autistic children, they would tell me, as they began to talk, about their ‘shapes’. I knew that shape was important to such children because if they were testable at all (and most of them were not), the psychological tests on which they did best were those to do with the matching of shapes. But I began to realize that the ‘shapes’ the autistic children were talking about to me were not those objective geometrical shapes which we all share. They were entirely personal shapes which were idiosyncratic to them, and to them alone. They were not the shapes of any particular object. They were just ‘shapes’, the circle being an especially comforting one for all of them. I do not know what other forms were covered by what they referred to as ‘shapes’, but I do know that it was the bodily ‘feel’ of such ‘shapes’ which mattered to the child. These ‘shapes’ brought in the rudiments of the notion of boundaries enclosing a space, although they themselves were not located in external space as are the shared geometrical forms to which we ordinarily give the name ‘shapes’.

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CHAPTER TWO: Relational perspectives on the therapeutic action of psychoanalysis

Jane Ryan Karnac Books ePub

Neil Altman

An historical perspective

Lewis Aron (1995) once commented that in order to make a creative contribution to the psychoanalytic literature, one has to be prepared to revise, even overturn, all of psychoanalytic theory. Psychoanalytic theory is an integrated set of conceptions that forms a system in which each part depends on all the other parts. Not everyone has agreed with this systemic conception of psychoanalysis; for example, it has been argued (Gill, 1976) that the metapsychology of psychoanalysis (e.g., the structural theory of id, ego, and superego) is independent of the clinical theory (of transference and resistance). Thus, one could get rid of the metapsychology without affecting the clinical theory. On the other hand, much of the literature in relational psychoanalysis over the past twenty years has been concerned with developing the far-reaching implications for psychoanalytic theory and practice of the “relational turn”, i.e., the shift from regarding drives as fundamental to mental life, to regarding relational configurations as fundamental in the external world and in the internal world. In 1983, Jay Greenberg and Stephen Mitchell shook up the psychoanalytic world by systematizing and making explicit this shift that they claimed was taking place across a range of psychoanalytic schools of thought, from drive theory to relational theory. Since then, the implications that have emerged include, but are not limited to: redefinitions of the notion of neutrality (Aron, 1996, 2003; Green-berg, 1986), the emergence of the concept of “enactment” (Aron, 1996; Bass, 2003; Black, 2003; Jacobs, 1986), the re-emergence of dissociation as a fundamental organizing principle of the mind (Bromberg, 1999; Davies, 1999), a reconsideration of self-disclosure in psychoanalysis (Aron, 1992), new psychoanalytic epistemologies (Hoffman, 1998; Mitchell, 1993), new concepts of “mutuality” and “asymmetry” (Aron, 1992), reconsiderations of gender (Benjamin, 1995; Dimen, 2003; Goldner, 1991; Harris, 1991), race (Altman, 2000; Leary, 1997, 2000), and sexual orientation (Domenici & Lesser, 1995). In this paper, I spell out some of the implications of the relational turn for the theory of the therapeutic action of psychoanalysis. In the background of this discussion are considerations of what constitutes health and pathology; thus moral judgments, considerations as to what constitutes a good life, will be inevitably implicated and I attempt to make them explicit when I notice them in the background of the theories being discussed. We will see that ideas as to what constitutes a good life will also be found in ideas about what constitutes a good analysis. Let us begin with the first generation of analysts: Freud and his contemporaries.

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CHAPTER FOUR Editorial issues

P.C. Sandler Karnac Books PDF


Editorial issues


usiness, like politics, may interfere in the editing and publication of books. Often they intermingle, especially in our times, when business is so miscegenated with politics. We have reached a point where it is realistic to talk about a sophisticated “state capitalism” which has finally appropriated (or misappropriated) purely capitalist tools (Wooldridge, 2012). The 20th century witnessed huge and failed interference by some nations’ governments in art and science.

In most cases, the interference resulted in more damage than repair, much less discovery. There were at least two exceptions, in the times of Maecenas and of the “enlightened despots”. The developed system of social exchange and trade known as “capitalism” proved, under a historical vertex, to be beneficial to some extent—when politics were kept at bay. Beethoven brought the bourgeois revolution to art, fully benefiting from the advantages of private enterprise. Nevertheless, people like Franz Schubert and Friedrich Nietzsche—to quote just two examples—did not find a suitable publisher. Schubert could count on a dozen friends who acted as both musicians and audience. They played the compositions of the gifted Franz along with him at events called by the very same friends “Schubertiades”. The small ensembles played mostly on Schubert’s own manuscripts. Through this seemingly fragile


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Book Three: The Dawn of Oblivion

Wilfred R. Bion Karnac Books ePub

EM-MATURE This book is a psycho-embryonic attempt to write an embryo-scientific account of a journey from birth to death overwhelmed by pre-mature knowledge, experience, glory and self-intoxicating self-satisfaction. I was spared any knowledge of the courtship of my sperm with my ovum, but many years later was given to understand that my ancestors had a long and disreputable history extending to the day when an ancestral sperm, swimming characteristically against the current, lodged in a fallopian tube to lie in wait for an unknown ovum. The history of my ovum appears to be virtually non-existent. My sperm impetuously penetrated a Graafian follicle before my ovum had time itself to escape penetration. I cannot vouch for the truth of these tales which became know to me through scientific hear-say many years later. I admit responsibility for what I have experienced, but not for the distortions of scientific sense. I acknowledge dependence on sensible and experienced transcriptions; I cannot promise communication of pure non-sense without the contamination by sense. I shall not repeat my apology for having to borrow the language of experience and reason despite its inadequacy.

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