Please post your reflections on the In A Looking Glass Darkly ‘dialogic’ seminars here.
Striving to articulate: further thoughts on psychotherapy and the dialogic seminar with Dr. Jaswant Guzder.
Learning about the process of attuning the analysand and focussing on their renderings: suspending censorships and looking for sources of suffering through a journey of self-awareness and hybrid identities; creating condensations and juxtapositions of thoughts, cultures, stories, histories, mythologies with critical rejection of historical and social garbage.
What are we aiming for, what does psychological health actually mean?
Is the work of a soloist, with a single subjectivity, better ‘therapy’ than the use of dialogue (as with the dialogic principle of setting subjectivity against subjectivity)? Instead of discussing the ‘talking cure’, should we focus on the ‘listening cure’? Which process leads to more effective and affective learning? Is psychoanalysis just a paid conversation with a person we want to be?
Is getting “ill” with the patient similar or the same as sympathy?
What where writers’ grasp of the unconscious before Freud’s systematic, analytical and formal approach? In the world of literature and theatre before literary motifs and connections were made with psychology, these stories or psychological problems, such as Oedipus Rex, must have been well rehearsed predicaments, clichés or common patterns.
Is the use of a Freudian lens helpful when analysing literature or someone’s psyche? Are plays really about something, is literature clear-cut; does this meaning replace the work; is the reductionism helpful or is the emotional impact of the words themselves the point? Do we need see Oedipus Rex given that we know it contains the incest motif? Does Earnest Jones’ Hamlet and Oedipus with its distilled meanings and incest motif replace hamlet?
Is the pressure to resolve everyone into a category or archetype one of the causes of the problem? I’m thinking of in particular sexual orientation or gender identity? Do we repress sexual urges? Can we repress anger and conflict in a similar way as we have repressed sex?
We didn’t mention Jung at all. Jung’s and Freud’s split, and I’m a novice in understanding this, came out of Jung believing there were different root psychological causes, a greater moral and social landscape, to just repressed sexual urges of Freud’s psychoanalysis.
We also didn’t mention Marcel Proust’s similar work on memory as Freud, for example in A la recherché du temps perdu. Interestingly Freud and Proust were contemporaries who (it’s commonly believed) never read each other’s work.
I wasn’t aware of Nabokov’s critique of psychoanalysis through his work Lolita. In fact on further reading it appears that he detested Freud saying that he thought he was “crude” and “medieval”.
We didn’t get into the interpretation of dreams and how is my life better if I believe my dreams are meaningful. What is the evolutionary purpose of the unconscious mind?
Were surrealists really unlocking their unconscious or are they a bunch of frauds?
It was a shame we didn’t get onto Indian Mythology. I spent a long time reading and preparing those parts. Perhaps we need more structure on the saturday meet the person sessions so we can cover each area we focussed on, it’s a shame our efforts weren’t reflected in the session.
The dynamics of psychology and politics was touched on but could have expanded much further. Do we seek masochistically to be governed, does the ego latch on, with dangerous intensity, with phantasmal creations of people. Sartre has the idea of the fear of freedom. Do we need servility, levels of superiority to survive?
“Do not leave me in this wilderness!
Or, if you do, pay me to stay behind.”
How high the house that John built stands –
can’t reach every poignant detail, posters
of Hiroshima on the walls, bowl
of origami cranes by the window,
faint light of the antique radio playing Roy Orbison –
can’t reach but not for lack of trying
as I count out the ways we do & don’t
belong here, the ghostly flicker of cheap tea candles
a chair, an arm, a mood –
how deep in the cellar Reason hides
trying on chaotic jocular for size,
air trapped in its own throb,
psyche cadaver rolled up in a Persian rug,
our first words exchanged rattling the radiator,
make-shift sleeping space cold & snow-blind,
sure ground, shifting ground, tumblers –
how Folly, the fiddler, keeps sarcastic time
in the moment I’ve realized
no stable leaving exists.
Dear John something of a scandal
has swept up unrepentant residual flak,
released it in the form of cool ash onto the front lawn,
sown seeds of nostalgia, thought better of that, screamed
bloody murder yet remained unheard –
dear John the tirades of our ephemeral hopes
gone on a bender don’t
bleed the way they used to, something
I appreciate remembering how you had
neither coinage nor humility enough
to take the ineffable
to gutsy heart…
There are so many problems for girls & women kept within a hierarchal system of patriarchal power, difficult for a contemporary western woman to take in, even a western woman only peripherally aware of how the situation she now finds herself in has much to do with the work of feminists (female & male both) in very recent times, not to mention technologies of all stripes rendering the physical differences between men & women in afluent societies less important. The ideals as delineated in this article relating to Indian womanhood are culturally conservative, right leaning, male centered, the anima the top dog. I am not sure what I feel regarding potential for women in Indian culture, beyond feeling worried by the emphasis on hierarchy in the intergenerational reality that anchors Indian extended families. I get that hybrid identities are possible – or more correctly essential – for migrating Indians, just have this feeling that all in all they are easier said than done. How does the western world embrace the kind of patriarchy at issue in this social construct? Difficult to be sure.
I was struck by the idea a young hybrid identity Indian woman had regarding her life experience – to wit, that when she was at Harvard University she wanted “respect”, while at home she was after “approval”. I am certain this could be said of many women, not only Indian migrant women, but more, I wonder how different seeking respect vrs approval really is? I would think that both are fundamental in the same way to supporting an ego ideal, but also that perhaps seeking authenticity is better in both contexts? Is this a very western contemporary existentialist idea? Not so sure – feels like evolution to me, even though I’d hate for any country receiving immigrants to impose such an ideal…
Sita-Shakti @ Cultural Collision
SITA-SHAKTI @ Cultural Collision: Issues in the psychotherapy of diaspora Indian Women
Reflections by Storytime.
Similar to the 4th reading, it’s focus is on gender roles and their literary motifs, family cohesion and dynamics and the need for hybridisation of identity after migrating between different cultures.
I’m very much interested in the confusion and system conflict in the role of the Indian woman, dichotomised, in extreme cases, into roles of reverence and oppression: the Sita/Shakti balance.
Do the Hindu Myths come out of this confusion? Were the metaphors written to articulate this tension? Is the strength of the novel in western society, and its rich range of tone and focus, a way of avoiding this strong dichotomy of roles. Does feminist literature drive feminism? How has Hinduism lasted this long? Why did the Buddism, Sikhims and Jainism break away? What are their differences in their treatment of women and design for family cohesion? Actually bad question, maybe we should ask why most world religions repress women?
If it’s, in the words of Salmon Rushdie, “an open society like India, with a richness of life experience with the complicated culture, colours, smells and excess”, then what’s going on over the border in the fundamental airless Pakistan?
Do psychoanalysts have criticisms of western cultures and family cohesion? Is there a best way to nurture a family or are we stuck with a cultural relativism? Is there a complete healing/or perfect solution? Are psychoanalysts just cashing in on what everyone has to deal with in life? Why don’t we all need psychological help the world and human condition is confusing, chaotic and barely manageable, why don’t we all fall apart?
If social history was to play out again would gender roles come out the same way? Are reverence, oppression and everything in-between natural relations between men and women? Are they natural consequences of the biology we’ve evolved to?
What is identity? How fluid is it? How quickly can it be dismantled/reconstructed? How many things we identify with are imported? Confusing identity with nationality or religion is problematic as national boundaries are arbitrary, and religion and nationalism are dangerous.
More light needs to be shed on the nature vs nurture/culture etc balance. How many of these psychological problems would have come up without a change in culture? In other words is the cultural change the final push over the edge after a building of underlying problems and tension (including mis-firing of chemistry and biology in the brain). The follow-up question is what is the balance of drugs and talking? Do the drugs take care of the nature problems and the talking the nurture problems?
What does the quote in the conclusion mean? “The psychological agendas of joint family life, and malevolent, painful realities of middle class dowry death of pressures promoting female foeticide in India, cannot be reduced to symbolic, imaginary of cultural representations.”
Writings on “Sita-Shakti: Cultural Paradigms for Indian Women” Glass Onion – March 16th, 2011
Interesting for a westerner to explore the cultural paradigms informing the identities of Indian women. In traditional Indian extended families it would seem that the women have far less options regarding acceptable selfhood than contemporary western women have. With migration to western countries as well as collisions of eastern & western cultural paradigms in urban India proper, Indian women can find themselves way out of sync with the mythic feminine-maternal ideal that has informed both intrapsychic & interpersonal realities in India for centuries. For a modern western woman, the ideal of Sati, the perfect wife/mother of sons who serves family & social ends foremost – this ideal is clearly out of line with successful individuation, for women as well as men, at issue in more egalitarian societies. Of course western women are not uniformly free to pursue personal goals at the expense of family either, with socioeconomic situations underpinning possibilities to an important extent. The Indian woman in the hierarchy of a traditional joint family, however, is far more restricted re life beyond the family. I feel for the migrated woman trying to manage a hybrid identity that does not lead to denigration among family members.
I worked at one time in a vegetarian restaurant where the majority of the kitchen staff were first generation female Indian migrants. Two women I remember in particular were in arranged marriages, under 30, with young children. One woman, N., had a seemingly good marriage with a husband fairly westernized re husband/wife relations. N was attending adult education classes in the sciences at night, in order to get the prerequisites to study nursing. She lived with her husband’s family but had plans to set up a nuclear family dwelling in the not too distant future. The other woman G, however, was apparently in a more traditional joint family, with a mother-in-law who ruled G with an iron fist, & a husband who did not like his wife interacting in any significant way with those of western decent, even though he himself made overtures of friendship fairly often to the predominantly western wait staff when he came to pick up G. I learned that this woman had been damaged in childbirth with her second child, was in need of an operation to repair her genital area, but was forbidden by the family to get the operation. G told me this one evening in tears. I felt helpless in the face of this situation, wholly unsure of what might happen to G were I to try to intervene on her behalf. I stopped working at the restaurant shortly after G’s confession, really don’t know what became of her, still harbour guilt re my failure to come up with a solution that would allow G to get medical help. Of course it is quite probable that eventually she did get help, hmmmmmmmmmm – I wonder if Sati was the ideal G was striving after…
Sita-Shakti, Cultural Paradigms for Indian Women.
This is very much a stream-of-consciousness.
I think I’ve been trying to read this for 3 days. I have so many tangential thoughts and many lines of inquiry that I need to follow up. It’s been a hard read that is wonderfully interesting but also thick and has caused me to fall asleep a few times.
At one point I was going to stop and read the Ramayana in order to understand the cultural and religious motifs. The dense overview was necessary but didn’t help me much. I looked for other synopsises online. The other small stories of Kali, Ganesh, Shiva and Mahabjarata I didn’t really follow at all so it’s hard to follow the connections with the cohesive unit that is an Indian family.
I also skipped through the last couple of case studies as I they were not sticking in my mind as I passed to the next.
I need to bear in mind that “the mythic roots of Indian identity ‘cannot be overestimated’” (pg. 258). That said….
I wondered what the Dr Guzder thinks of Mother Teressa and her Missionaries of Charity relationship with Indian culture. Mother Teressa was always opposed to family planning and contraception, someone who would rather keep woman strapped into their animal cycle of reproduction. She was promoting a certain servility in woman much like the Sita role in the Ramayama. At what point in the psychologist placing importance of the culture of the family are they propping up ridiculous misogynistic thoughts. When do they say to the generation above that they are repressing their women? Why is there such an even handedness tone, it lacks objectivity as it doesn’t seem to be in search of any truth. Just merely propping up the status quo.
At what point does the psychologist say this is misogynistic and repressive, socially unacceptable. And to mess around being ‘politically correct’ and culturally sensitive and allowing so much suffering to continue, how culturally sensitive and blind do you have to be to ignore the several hundred dowry deaths, bride burnings that occur each year in south asia. At what point is the culture just getting in the way?
With these case studies the psychological care seems to focus on the women, suggesting that they are the victims.
Can the Dr expand on the psychological need for men to dominate women? Stemming from “womb envy”, Mother godess, purity, unconscious fear of the feminine, Impurity threat vs. seductive danger etc etc.
How does the Karma Sutra fit into all this repression?
Some more on the Psychohistoriographic Group article – Storytime
I left tonight’s session with the process/product distinction on my mind.
The Psychohistoriographic Group article describes a Transcultural Psychiatry Workshop which seems to be all about the process of creating a poem or dramatic script and not the product.
The co-leaders keep stirring the waters and blowing air into the fire” are fuelling the process and banishing political correctness (I think).
The workshop approach could be decomposed into similar processes that one could use in the field of process art, namely; gathering, sorting, collating, associating, and patterning in order to try to understand the different hybrid forms of individual personhood and to aid self-articulate of their peoples suffering and history for example.
From these building blocks of process an emergence occurs which could parallel the emergence of the psyche from a collection of neurons. One needs to just see the work of Jackson Pollock or the molten lead throwing of Richard Serra for example. But is the workshop interested in the product? If not, why not?
Is the very supportive environment of drama or art therapy able to provide the adequate criticisms for the workshop participants, who might decide to become actors or artists because of this, so that they can meet professional standards? What is the ‘just in case’ measure taken.
What is the distinction between drama therapy and process drama, art therapy and process art? What’s the difference between a psychiatrist and a good teacher or a curious mind in this context of learning about cultures, narratives, timeline, values, morals and their roots and to unravel the historiography. Managing effectively the psychological health is a key distinction of course but there are similarities with good teaching which I think are worth observing.
What is Gestalt psychology?
I’m going to read about the conference of the birds now
Writings on “The Psychohistoriographic Group” – March 14, 2011 – Glass Onion
“We begin a journey of questions. The journey or the process is the essence of the work. We are voices making a path in the room.”
Maps of selfhood, of family, of friends – yellow brown white black – partner maps, persons as well inundated with your narrative – or nearly – as you are, & vice versa – the ethnic map, geographical map, map of distances, of religious nexus, of curiosity, of morphing culture – here we are, our voices alternately gentle & harsh, our needs free flowing then caught in thickets, our families, be they nuclear or extended, often tracing out our individuality like The Ominous Noose, like the enfolding arms of some gracious mother – listen – that child you repeatedly re-become at the oddest of intervals – traitor maps & all those hands hidden in pockets – look out – the genital map, not your own secret really, more like a stitch in nine includes obtuse if not also abuse – here we are, snug in a symptom, racked by hope as often as despair – there goes the alpha & omega of finally acknowledging – the red birds, the blue birds, transparent birds – the nests of the soul encumbered, all this where “fulfilled” is basically
“filled full” –
& now we draw our desire out, walking a path of sensing, visualizing a touch down as vulnerably abstract, courting the approval now of the misbegotten, now of our own stung narratives flying like global flags high over head – those identifying flags suddenly blank, this to allow what’s authentically invisible it’s deepening due – this to provide material for further filling out of allegiance to what’s quietly beautiful in the slow-to-awaken whole – widening, the gaze of the Other, & you within that gaze ever so small, fiddled, awestruck – narrowing, the escape route, given the way being in this collaborative inference is asking after what’s authentic about you, the authentic a residual of giving generously some slippery part of yourself, however small a part – now we prepare in the midst of meditation a song, a sigh, a universal prayer…
“14 Djinns Migrate across the sea”
I’ve been involved in a systemic family therapy situation a number of years back in the role of classroom aid at Douglas Hospital in a day program for children labelled as emotionally disturbed. It was during a time I was studying techniques of specialized education, the connection a 4 month stage in quest of a career I ultimately elected to forgo. Regardless of what I ultimately elected to do, the stage as well as the studies impacted significantly on my being-in-the-world – the children, their families, the programme, the internal processing of the whole. There were children involved who I’ll remember forever, & one in particular who reminds me of the child Abdul in the article at issue here – specifically because he too was the scapegoat as well as the member of the family identified as presenting symptoms – also a member of a family (split) who had migrated to Montreal & had huge difficulties re settling. I was taken by the discussion in the article regarding hybrid identities, the impact of poverty specifically on an immigrant family, the importance of taking into account in a working manner the ethnicity of a disturbed immigrant family, & the importance of examining the whole of family dynamics in order to impact positively in therapy, as well as the need to incorporate cultural identities/religious beliefs with a willing “suspension of disbelief” in order to allow parallel possibilities of healing, the latter something that was left out of the equation in the situation I found myself in.
K was 7 years old, of Jamaican descent, a troubled child who had been expelled from regular school 5 times before landing at Douglas Hospital, the final time for giving his school principal a bloody nose. Working with K included both reading & arithmetic sessions, with the former yielding the most interesting results – that is, K could take great pleasure in reading if the content of the lesson interested him, much less so if the texts at issue were generic as in lacking exciting plot or engaging characterizations. This was interesting psychologically speaking because it lead to all sorts of feelings surfacing, something which I could pass on to the therapy team.
K lived with his crack addicted mother & 4 year old sister (shared a bed with the latter which was problematic at the very least because the young girl was often incontinent). He had 2 other sisters who were doing fairly well living with his maternal grandmother, plus a father in & out of jail as well as in & out of K’s life. The sisters came up fairly often in K’s discourse, as well as the father. In the case of the sisters living with the grandmother, it had to do with the jokes they shared with him, the books with animal or human pictures showing tender familial situations they gave him, the desire to be in their presence that he articulated. Paradoxically in the case of the drifting father, what was at issue were slurs against girls & women which K. ingested to the ends of hilarity. K rarely even mentioned his mother.
Even from the point of view of a classroom aid, K’s family situation impacted like a ton of bricks regarding what was & wasn’t possible at the academic & behavioural levels. Something basically practical like getting to the school bus stop on time was an issue which I tried to rectify by asking his sleep-in mother to buy an alarm clock in a very polite note – she refused, & consequently K came to us less often as the semester went on, resulting in the gains he had been making both academically & therapeutically falling away. Perhaps even more importantly on a psychological level, the family rarely arrived for family therapy sessions, this too happening more & more often as the semester progressed. As I mentioned earlier, little account of the ethnicity of the family appeared to be brought into the equation re relations between the family & the treatment. The article I’ve just read makes me wonder how the treatment would have impacted, had ethnicity been explored & taken in to account.
One thing I did with K in the part of the semester when he was more present, specifically during Black History Month: K came into school one day with an X referring to Malcolm X shaved into the side of his head early that February. I noted how proud he was of this, also how he knew a fair degree about the man if you took his age into account. At any rate, I read in the Gazette that on the week-end kids’ page they would be publishing writing by kids relating to Black History Month, decided this could be something I could share with K in a positive way, got permission from the Specialized Ed teacher to do writing for the contest on Malcolm X with K. Ultimately the Gazette published K’s writing, & when I brought the paper in K was oh, ever so proud. He got to read his piece to the class, & then, on that Monday, I sent a clipping of the writing home with K to show his mother, told K to stick it to his fridge, show it to mom. The following day I asked about the reception of the writing. “Oh” said K – “she told me to get it off the fridge “– grrrrr – operation sabotage, but of course the mother was in need of therapy too…
Our last seminar (March 7, 2011) and reading a piece “Working through the Counter-transference: Notes on a lecture by Christopher Bollas” represents my first formalized meeting with psychoanalysis. What I knew before was on a level of this old Hitchcock’s film shown at the seminar. Lack of deeper knowledge was giving me the impression of simplicity inside this field portrayed by mass media as never ending conversations. I am openly admitting my ignorance. The most typical behavior of people who do not know much about certain regions of knowledge, but in some circumstances are placed in their “territories” is avoiding details. That is why I am more focused on analyzing more general aspects of psychoanalysis coming directly from my first impressions confronted with my experience in other fields.
The most striking for me were pages: 75, 80 and 81. These pages deal, in my view, with typical problems that researchers face when planning physical experiments. It requires defining precisely the objects, methodology as used theories/hypothesizes for interpretations. The main difference from my field of material science is that the all objects as tools used in psychological “experiments” are represented by similar complex human minds. In science we know the Heisenberg uncertainty principle that tells about limits in measuring certain parameters. What kinds of such limitations do exist in psychiatry and psychoanalysis? Let’s have a close look; they only deal with two equivalent minds where one (tester/psychiatrist) is a priori assumed to be normal and other (patient) abnormal. Can similarly built objects measure precisely the other objects? Yes, they can, but if we deal with significant differences. However, where is the border line determining when an assumed normal psychiatrist can test a less normal patient? It is obvious that the Heisenberg uncertainty principle saying about one measured property makes less precisely the other can be measured is reaching its ultimate border in psychiatry/psychoanalysis when the analyst and analysand are similarly “normal”. Such tests will become weird when people representing authority starts investigate very close to normal patients.
We need also to consider mutual internal changes in the minds of the testers and tested when interfering so closely in their sessions; – the both are changing. In material science we deal with more or less invasive tests that for such reasons are more or less possible to repeat because of the previous tests causing irreversible changes. It seems that the author is fully aware about it as she says on page 81: “Ghosts of your supervisors reconsider the work, internally watching the erotic phantasy evolve between analyst and analyzed:” or on page 75: “Representations and signifiers move from individual interior meaning to a mingling of process and interpretative interaction” and on page 79: “Did you become an analyst to seek her meaning from your own objects?” I understand the illustrations in this article showing very extreme/symbolic situations (up detachments of head, body’s transpositions and special positions) as some kind of mathematical functions that are used in physical science for identifications of the tested objects. Can we say that more drastic pictures used to illustrated psychiatric tests in this article reflect bigger differences “between analyst and analyzed” justifying a conclusion that the tested patient may need a medical help?
I like this presented real psychiatric case in the article “Fourteen Djinns Migrate Across the Ocean”. It shows very extreme situation that seems to be easy diagnosed from many angles as manifesting drastic abuse and cultural shocks magnified by financial problems in this family. The most amazing is using a complex approach in treating this family by Dr. Guzder. It is room here for “chemical psychiatrists” using some scary psychotropic substances interfering with our brain’s chemistry as for traditional healers and religious interpretations. This approach is moderated and humble in comparison to Vancouver’s psychiatrists who refused to accept and include in their treatment this family’s rich ethnic/religious background. In this simple way of accepting their differences it was possible to achieve their trust and
cooperation. We do not know if this boy was fully cured and probably it will be answered next Saturday. Similarly interesting for me is the issue of drugs and if this boy still needs to use them.
14 Djinns Migrate across the sea is an incredibly moving family story. Some questions that came out of it.
How do somatic symptoms happen physiologically? What’s the role of drugs in psychiatry? How do psychotropic drugs work? How do they control emotions? The science? Are there cultural factors which change drug use rates in different countries? Power of the placebo in medicine?
How many “layers of identification” to peel back to get the key triggers? Do you go further? Critically examinining what you think are the root causes, the “underlying elements of affective distress”? What underlies the root causes? Is Infinite regression a real trap to fall into?
This question needs reworking: Better to have a more ignorant but culturally sensitive solution than the best medical solution? Does the layer of ignorance of the culture add an unneeded fear, paranoia?
Are psychoanalysts essentially just giving good pastoral care? How much progress can you make with a patient? When has a patient had enough? Does treatment keep continuing like ‘sane’ rich Manhatten-types in the 70s.
What is the ideal? (The family ideal, the communication ideal, the fulfilling life ideal) The article seems to know what’s wrong. Does it know what’s right? Does it miss the idea that there is no such thing as true/pure understanding?
Are psychologists involved in applying for disability support? Job searching? Morale lifting? Hobby finding? Friend finding? Difference between a psychoanalysts and a life coach? Do psychoanalysts think that their lives are fulfilling?
The balance of rational/empiricism/science/technician like healers against metaphysical/psychological/social/irrational therapeutics/priest like healers is fascinating. I assume the dielectic will never be resolved. This links to my question about the Psychoanalyst’s working model of emergent phenomena?
Definition of Counter-transference: a therapist’s emotional entanglement with a client
Navigating a path of Motifs
A poetic path emerges in a space of creation and perception, ‘themescapes’ for interpretation.
The analyst, looking for hidden motifs, reflects the poetic medicine of the analysand, mixing reason with expression, transparency with memories, and holds momentum in their steps. As trust solidifies, steps become smaller, unstable, the heavy steps of childhood; steps become weightless as the soul shakes free of the mind and retraces the hidden trauma of diasporas; steps of the analyst fall on the analysand’s footsteps with flawless synchronicity; steps fall with exactitude on the worn footsteps of Adam and Eve; No end appears. Consolation is in the moving. The apple was supposed to be eaten.
A reaction to:
Working through the Counter-transference: Notes on a Lecutre by Christopher Bollas
The mistrust of counter-transference poem: Identity
“If your head is made of wax
don’t stand in the sun…”
(advice from an East Asian psychiarist)
You’re querying like a novice again
immune to the experiential
sloughing off of innocence
with one hand blankly open,
the other sorrowfully fisted.
Your name is just a name you say
& no amount of vague knowing
harvested on trapdoor
can make you into
a viable someone.
You’re invariably dynamic, though –
of course you know that –
& the way you seem to see
with all three eyes
the twitch of necessary politics
in the way the streetlight changes –
the way you never shake off
asking after stillborn fates & babies
like everything must be related:
well yes – wicked isn’t it
to be two or three or four
& still somehow
less than one…
My comments on our reading:
Working through the Counter-transference: Notes on a Lecutre by Christopher Bollas
“There is a promise to fulfil: no touch, no dam-
age, no flight. She rests on his promise while
she looks to him from the couch.”
Ah, that’s key to a successful psychoanalytic situation, the analyst keeping that promise. If he fails to do so, much danger involved for the psychically naked analysand, the process at issue fraught with potential injury. Trust – I would imagine it takes immense trust to allow for the needed vulnerability, the erotic slippage, the experiencing of deep pain under the gaze of an other, however well intentioned that other might be. But of course TWO illnesses commingling, the analyst aware of his own even as he is balancing entry into the illness of the analysand against the possibility of his own psychological drowning, against being swept away by the analysand through the counter-transference that the playing out of this kind of therapy sets up.
I wonder how this could ever be an experience of equals, given what the analyst knows about what is happening versus a patient entering in not knowing, say, very much at all about what she can expect, the analysand a vulnerable clutch of mind, body & soul racked by a need for love & healing. The process always in the end incomplete, yes, or could we say more realistically always ongoing? In the analytic hour, in a garden “with the serpent safely behind his screen”, as the text puts it – hopefully analyst & analysand will navigate illness with “positive” results, meaning with a taste of healing & self knowledge occurring. I suppose analysts in various ways are careful with the power they have, at least the good ones, but I nevertheless see the situation alive with the possibility of power struggles that are vitally dangerous. Of course growth & awareness don’t come cheap in this world, seemingly one must be ready to suffer to heal, believing that the double-edge sword of psychological exploration is the ground for authentic living, authentic being, authentic seeing.
This text with pictures is beautifully worded in places, capable of giving an experience that goes beyond merely imparting information, even as poetry does – to wit, a kind of experience that potentially can leave the reader/viewer ever so subtly changed, a fine text that enters body & psyche both, a work of art, what – oh! I just remembered a piece of advice a South Asian psychiatrist (not a psychoanalyst) once gave me:
“If your head is made of wax
Don’t stand in the sun…”
At first, something about the line-drawn floating human forms combined with philosopohical/psychological/spirtual/poetic text reminded me of illustrated versions of the Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.
However, I find at first the text rather obscure. One of my first impulses was to find out who Christopher Bollas is with a google search. Another reaction was reluctance and concern about the idea of taking on the illness of others. That reminds me of some things in family, and is a place I don’t really want to go. Why all of this floating? Disembodiment. A way to escape? A route for transformation? Masculine and Elder presence ?? Father? Psychoanalyst? Putting to sleep which parts of himself? Psychoanalyst is attracted to the patient? In love with the patient? In sympathy with the patient? This seems to me fascinating with a touch of magic, and yet deeply banal at the same time.
Or should I say phascinating?
This is a phancy phantasy indeed, phrivolous even. Very Phucking Phunny…
I hope this patient was not carrying around too much pain, nevertheless I’m not sure how valuable it is for me to try to live it. I’m find that I’m not all that interested.
Anyway, I do agree that knowing the channels by which the word enters the heart is quite a profound mystery. But, it can be beautiful anyway. And, I like the idea of flying moments.
Listening is a hugely generous act. There are many kinds of listening. Listen me big, Listen me powerful, please.
I am familiar with the ghost of my supervisor. Mother-child, Father-child, Playmate-sibling, Admired-Admirer – it is all there. Remember, never use the word ‘involved’ and which should almost always be that. Go ‘which’ hunting in your text.
I find the cross-sensory phrases to be arresting. To me, they suggest synesthesia, and I think my supervisor would agree.
I wonder if we are all naked in each other’s unconscious, but yet usually we do speak to the mind and leave the visible aside. No drowning hopefully. Just Landscapes.
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