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Medium 9781912567485

Section C: Implications

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub




The relation of autism to obsessional mechanisms in general

Donald Meltzer

The experiences recorded and discussed in this book, deriving as they do from the combination of detailed observation and the panoramic backdrop of years of analytic process, have contributed to our grasp of mental mechanisms in no area so richly as in the field of the obsessional ones. The problem of ‘choice of neurosis’ with which Freud struggled, by virtue of being formulated at all (one of those wrong questions to which there can be only wrong answers), gave rise to a whole spectrum of speculative theories of one or two factor or even multiple factor type. Stage of development of the libido, fixation points, traumatic factors, mechanisms of defence, mother-baby relationship, sociological factors, heredity of constitution – these and many more have been sorted through in this quest. It might easily be misconstrued that a mechanismspecific theory of autism was being promulgated in this volume, but it would be a mistake which this present chapter should make clear. I intend to show the light thrown on the essential workings of obsessional mechanism by the way in which they are employed in this surely most primitive of all obsessional disorders. Of course, the moment one calls autism an obsessional disorder it sounds like a nosological statement with etiological implications, but it is not so intended. The experience with Piffie has been selected as the locus for this discussion as he presented obsessional mechanisms of a particularly ‘pure’ sort, as well as in near ‘pure culture’.

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Medium 9781912567393

5. The Weaning Process

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

As mentioned in the previous chapter, when the feeding relation to the breast at infantile levels begins to be acknowledged in the experience of the transference, termination immediately looms on the horizon and the fear of premature ending plays a role in all the subsequent work. This fear interacts at infantile levels with the depressive concern for ‘mother's babies’ and dominates the struggle toward integration as a life-long task. Its counterpart at the most adult level arises as an aesthetic and intellectual appreciation of the analytic process even in young children, driving the patient to ‘give the next fellow his turn’ and to spare the analyst unnecessary work – the ‘time of his life’.

This latter point, being the main focus of the therapeutic alliance in approaching cooperatively the decision for termination, may occupy us first so that we can return to the infantile problems in a more organised way. By the time that this phase has been reached in analysis, even with young children: the cooperation and interest in the analytic work is astonishing: not only embracing control of acting out and a continual collection of material for analysis from the events of daily life: but an enthusiasm for dream analysis which comes from the full acknowledgement of psychic reality and its primacy for their states of mind. The repeated experience of awakening from sleep in a mood which cannot be shaken off until the analytic session resolves it, brings forth both conviction and gratitude which sets in motion the urge to self-analysis out of useful sparing motives, in contrast to the envious or competitive motivation which was the driving force in such pseudo-self. analytic attempts during phases two and four in particular.

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Medium 9781912567218

10. Dreamlike Drawings and the Countertransference

Botbol, Miriam; Williams, Meg Harris Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Marina Vanali

In my work as a psychotherapist, I am used to jotting down on a piece of paper the dreams my patients tell me, in the ten minutes available between each session. At times, I simply write down one or two key words to remember an event or important thought they have mentioned. Afterwards, maybe during the weekend or on a quiet evening, I copy the content on my computer and save it in each patient's file. The initial aim of this job was to maintain a historical record of the psychoanalytic process of the patients. I later realised that it was indeed quite useful to me as, while I am copying my notes, I get the chance to think about the session again. In this phase, it might happen that new intuitions or links do come up, maybe elements I didn't pick up in the first place or which need a gestation period to become thinkable and expressible.

I often work with teenagers and with them I do use of course a different setting from the one I use with adults. Some of them sit in front of me chatting, a desk on their side with papers, pens, crayons and plasticine, which they can use to draw or write if they wish. Others choose the room with the couch, which is in fact a chaise longue, at an angle with my armchair, so that they can choose whether they want to look at me or at the patio door opening on a tiny terrace full of plants and flowers.

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Medium 9781780491066

27 Personal recollections of learning from Mattie Harris

Rhode, Maria; Rustin, Margaret; Williams, Gianna Polacco; Williams, Meg Harris Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Pamela Sorensen

Certain memories carry more than personal narrative because they illustrate shifts in awareness that open new kinds of emotional learning. I would like to share certain moments and observations that remain vivid in my mind because they illustrate the impact that contact with Mattie Harris had on my development as a child psychotherapist and as a teacher. I think Mattie’s ideas about growth and development permeated the culture of the child psychotherapy training at the Tavistock in ways that I took for granted, so that I did not understand what I was learning from her while I was learning it. Looking back I realize how profound an influence her ideas and her character had on my thinking.

When I applied to the Tavistock training at 25, I had already investigated the three other child psychotherapy trainings in London at that time (the early 1970s). I will describe these encounters in some detail because my experience of them provides the context for my first meeting with Mattie. Other people will, of course, have had quite diferent impressions of these institutions and the personalities that inhabited them.

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Medium 9781782203841

2 - Commentary on the Film

Williams, Meg Harris Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Meg Harris Williams

This film tries to represent Bion's view of the struggle to give birth to an idea, that is, the essential template for personality development with all the turbulence and contradictory forces or characters that take part in the process.


Figments of Imagination (the birth of turbulence)

The pubescent pregnant girl who opens the scenario for us is based on a figure reported in Bion's war memories of a devastated France, and on the character of the sister of a friend from his schooldays whom he greatly admired but with whom (he says) he did not quite dare to be in love. The pregnant feral child, representing the self invaded by an ‘other’, contains the germ of the future idea whose story is then enacted by the drama, clash and debate and between the other characters, all fictional even when they appear to represent Bion's own family. As he points out at the beginning of The Long Weekend, they are really all abstractions (the reverse perspective of the fictional). But rather more entertaining than those of the Grid. And all about ‘me’, that is, one mind seen in its component parts from its many vertices or perspectives: to begin with, P. A., a Scientist, and the parental figures of his childhood – biological mother and father, and spiritual-emotional Ayah, all of whom were intimately involved in his own somatic ‘birth’. This becomes the metaphor for his psychic struggle to exist and to discover or work out his own identity. It is also a metaphor for the birth of psychoanalysis, that ‘lusty infant both powerful and helpless’ (as Bion describes it), striving to become a thing-in-itself, the realisation of an idea in the mind of God.

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