536 Chapters
Medium 9781912567454

23. The Psychic Reality of Unborn Children

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

A young woman, eight years in mental hospital for manic-depression psychosis, brought two dreams to a session. In the first, she had some difficulty walking because there was a little pocket on the sole of her right foot which contained little sticks.

In the second dream, she had her head thrown back (she stood up to illustrate) and ‘sick was gushing forth eternally’ (gesturing with both hands in a way that made it appear that the vomit gushed forth from her mouth and circled in the air to re-enter her body at her genital).

As she rambled on in further description and association to the dream, it became clear that the sticks in the pocket in her sole were arranged like the bones of a little foot, ‘like phalanges’, ‘falangists’ (laugh). They were like the almond sticks with which she aborted herself the first time (when she was living with a fellow student whom she later married) – ‘What a bloody mess!’(said with vulgarity and callousness). ‘Later I thought I could have named him Karl, for Karl Marx.’ (The six months foetus was male.) ‘I was weeping and weeping yesterday and kept saying to myself, “Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” He'd have been sixteen now. It's no use! Next week is Rosh Hashonah and then Yom Kippur!’

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Medium 9781912567126

11. Dream Narrative and Dream Continuity

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

One of the most impressive evidences of the intrinsic continuity of the process of unconscious phantasy is to be found in the striking links between dreams of the same night or even of successive nights. Attention to this continuity plays a considerable role in the creative use of dream material in analytical work and opens many problems for research, not only in the field of psychoanalysis but in related fields such as linguistics, aesthetics and politics. In speaking of continuity I do not mean to refer to continuity of meaning, but rather continuity of form. Dreams often give an impression, when set out in sequence, of being like an artist's sketches made during the organisation of a major composition, or the drawings by children in analysis. It can be seen that a number of central formal structures are being drawn up into juxtapositions in order to create a space scintillating with potentiated meaning. Sometimes words and visual forms are seen to interact, as I will shortly demonstrate. At other times spaces are being created as containers of meaning. At other times the movements from one type of space to another, and the emotional difficulties of making such moves, are made apparent.

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Medium 9781782202929

27. Review: W. R. Bion – ‘Elements of Psycho-analysis’ (1965)

Money-Kyrle, Roger Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Elements of Psycho-analysis. By W. R. Bion.* (London: Heinemann, 1963. Pp. 110. 15s.)

This is a difficult book, not because there is any lack of clarity in exposition, but because the ideas defined in it are new. The reader cannot recognize them as belonging to categories of thought already familiar to him; for they are themselves unfamiliar categories, the members of which remain to be recognized by him. It is this process of filling the defined, but at first empty, classes with examples, perhaps from previously unnoticed patterns from one’s own psycho-analytical experience, that gives them solid meaning.

It would seem to follow that there are at least two ways in which these new ideas can be misunderstood: they may, from the outset, be mis-recognized as special cases of familiar ideas; or they may gradually become distorted by the accumulation of inappropriate examples. In now giving an outline of what I believe to be the main theme of Bion’s book, I hope I have not gravely erred in either of these two ways; but the difficulties of precise communication of psycho-analytic concepts are so great that some misunderstanding is almost inevitable.

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Bion, Wilfred R. Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Bion: Seeing patients many times as we usually do, it is difficult to achieve that degree of naiveté in which we can see them each time as if we have never seen them before. It is easy to think, ‘Oh, here's the same old stuff again – yesterday, the day before that, for weeks, months, years’. It cannot in fact be so because tomorrow the patient we saw yesterday, or last week, month, or year, will not be the same person. We should get as near as possible to feeling that it is the first time we have ever seen that patient. It is difficult because we always feel that we ought to know his history and so on and so forth – a backwash of our own medical training. It is useful for two or three sessions, but after that this information which one has from hearsay is unimportant. From that time on we should be launched out into a different realm altogether – not the realm of the patient's history.

Question: You are really saying that you don't have to take notes. Each time a person comes in he is a new person and it is only what is being presented at this moment that is important.

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Medium 9781912567423

7. (1910) The Leonardo Paper (Narcissism)

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub


The Leonardo paper (narcissism)

We have now reached 1910 and I want to spend this chapter on the Leonardo case. It is a paper I always used to dislike, although I have come to think better of it after re-reading it several times. I think that the reason I balked at it originally was that it is the beginning of a very bad tradition in psychoanalysis: Freud calls it a ‘psycho-pathography’, an investigation into the ‘psycho-pathology of great men’, and if one looks at it in that light it is a somewhat unpleasant thing. Although I believe most of the things he says about Leonardo are probably quite correct, and in a sense enlightening, I do not think it requires psychoanalytic insight to reach them. The aspect that is peculiarly psychoanalytic concerns the part about the bird putting its tail in the baby Leonardo's mouth, the preoccupation with the flight of birds, his flying machines, the supposed hidden vulture in ‘The Virgin and Saint Anne’ and similar material. Yet the writing is not good and to my mind is not really even interesting. Therefore I want to put aside this pathography aspect of the paper, which is the only one of its sort that Freud wrote and, in many ways, is one he apologises for and dissociates himself from at the end. However, one must remember that it is an important paper historically; the beginning of that extremely bad tradition in psychoanalytic writing which consists in scrutinising the private lives of great men by supposedly psychoanalytic methods from outside the psychoanalytic setting of the transference. I think it is boring and has probably done quite a lot of harm in particular to the relationship of psychoanalysis to the arts, since it is mainly artists and writers (and to some extent politicians and historical figures) who have received such treatment.

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