Search This Blog

Sunday, 23 July 2017

The Bad Psychoanalytic Societies
The problem with the badness of the psychoanalytic societies is the lack-even the absence- of a solution to their badness, because they are created and structured to be bad.  The psychoanalytic societies are descendants of the ‘secret committee’ of the 1912. That committee was meant to protect Freud from his adversaries. It was not formed for a good purpose. It was established by Jones to  maintain certain  secrets, and the secret selection of a group of privileged analysts, who would be entrusted with the protection of Freud, and protecting psychoanalysis from the deviations of the open  members of the societies. There is no place in this post to detail how this secret committee became the porotype of all our psychoanalytic societies. Anyhow, the psychoanalytic societies are not meant to be nice; on the contrary, they are supposed to be bad because they are protecting certain people and maintaining their privileged status secret, with the assumption that those are the guardians of the profession and the good analysts. Their positions in the organization are secure for life and they oversee the choice of the next generation politicians. We encounter this type of societies only in illegal organizations. Honestly, I do not mean by that to be sarcastic or mean. I just see blatant resemblance between certain illegal organizations and our organization, and I do not know of any professional society that runs the way the psychoanalytical societies are run.
As long as the psychoanalytic societies are overtly meant to protect psychoanalysis from the deviations of its members but actually and covertly protects the privileges of some members, psychoanalysis will be degraded and the internal relationships between the members will also deteriorate. The result of that is  neglecting the standards of professional communication, acrimonious groupings, and a tendency to splitting. I am sure that we all notice those three results in our past and current status of the psychoanalytic societies.
In my last year as undergraduate and early graduate studies (mid Fifties) I learned from my professors few things about the “controversies’ in London, and more about the split in Paris. But what left a lasting impression on me (because I witnessed and live an episode in it) was the Lacanian convulsions to separate with his group from the French Association when he felt strong enough to do that. When I moved to North America in the early seventies I read about and noticed from distance some of the shenanigans in the APsaA in the past, and followed more closely the crisis in the West coast organization when Bion was invited by some, and the Kohutian disappointment for missing the chance to be the president.
The psychoanalytic societies (almost everywhere in the world) are doing the same thing: the senior members who rule the society leave psychoanalysis to God to save it and they take care of their own especial privileges. The appeal to change has to go through them, therefore it is very illogical to expect any change. Added to that, the ordinary member does not have any notion about what has to be changed and to what. I know. I lasted eight years as a member of the training committee and four years as associate director of the institute. I witnessed  few things that are very difficult to change and are out of the reach of the members, even to the training analysts who are not fully cooperative in running matters.
 Arnold Richards asked this question in one of his last communications: Some feel that it would be better for candidates and institutes that the training analyst not be part of the political and organizational structure of institutes Is that practical? Is that possible?  Worth discussing?
I think it is worth raising but not worth discussing. First, who is going to separate the privileged from his privileges? Second, this is not possible because you cannot separate the privileged training analyst from the privilege to also be  a politician. Third, the present situation in the psychoanalytic societies, as was the old situation too, is a product of the system of training; it is engrained in the way the societies are formed. Better, the system of training is the safeguard against changing the status quo in the societies.
The Eitingon system of training was originally established to organize (control) the membership to the psychoanalytic society. Training was the means to streamline the wishers to join the society by creating a frame work for choosing those wishers based on what was available at the time to identify the serious from the not serious.  After decades of discussing, arguing, criticizing, complaining of our system of training there is an unhealthy refusal to see and acknowledge that the Eitingon system of training came out of the necessities of the period, and is not dictated by anything related to the purpose of training as such. What I mean is that training in Eitingon’s time was not instituted to train but to choose the proper members, while now it is presumed to be for training. Training was and still is a pretext to choose the candidates whom we consider suitable…to what!! I say that because:1) there is an obvious decline in the appeal for training which practically speaking ‘leave us no choice’, 2) the standards of candidates and graduates show signs of continual deterioration (my experience in Canada, and the calibre of discussion that we get on the net suggest that).
There nothing in the theory of psychoanalysis itself, or the demands put on the practicing psychoanalysts by the ethics of the profession that could explain the reason for opting to still adopt the Institute System of training and continue it from Eitingon’s time. Giving up that system is not sacrilegious. We should do what Eitingon himself did: build a training system that suit our time in regard to the psychoanalysis we have now, decide what means of training are available to us, what type of trainees we expect to get, and what do we expect of the new psychoanalysts.  Up till now we still keep the tripartite model in training future psychoanalysts: learn Freud’s work and some of his collaborators’, undergo a relatively good period of psychoanalysis for therapeutic or didactic purpose !!1, and practice clinical psychoanalysis under supervision of few senior analysts. The purpose of that system of training was and still is to train practitioners  psychotherapy.  All that is done in specialized institutes administered by senior analysts; which gives training the meaning that was once  there for training for a guild (trade).

 To go back to Richards query, I would say that the present system of institute training is backward, primitive, is unsuitable for psychoanalysis of today. Whatever patch work will be done to it, it will still graduate immature analysts whether professionally or emotionally. Because the bad psychoanalytic societies are creatures of bad institutes there is no chance that psychoanalysis will survive. The natural step forward is to start negotiating with universities to accept psychoanalysis as one of its programs with the idea that gradually we will phase out the institute system completely and get the graduates the recognition of the IPA. We have to do that quickly before psychoanalysis loses whatever is left of its credibility and the universities would not consider our appeal any more.    

Monday, 10 July 2017


Idealization and self dception



I previously published a post on idealization in regard to its deleterious effect on training and interrelations within the psychoanalytic organizations. The gest of my post was: idealization is a way to give one’s self greater value than it deserves by idealizing something or some person whom we are in relation with. Idealizing psychoanalysis is a way for analysts to feel bigger than themselves (and others). Idealizing a TA is an obvious symbiotic exploitation of superiority and identifying with the TA.  Idealizing the theory as it stands now, or our special training in our special institutes as something unattainable anywhere else is blatant efforts to idealize ourselves. There is a serious problem in that position: only us (less than 3500 members) believe in our superiority, because we relate to each other not as analysts to analysts but as mirrors to each other..  

Today’s quote (Arnold Richards) comes from Anna Freud: "Papa continually emphasizes how much remains unexplained. With the other psychoanalytic writers, everything is always so known and fixed." This is a waning to us all. Complicity to idealization of psychoanalysis and to everything related to it will kill it without effort from us to save it: Save what, psychoanalysis! Psychoanalysis is perfect and it is our saviour! This kind of narcissism survives on self deception. .Did you notice that when we agree with an opinion on the open line we routinely praise the college and when we differ we remind ourselves of the magnificence and  insignificance of the disagreement.   

Friday, 23 June 2017



About the Postings on the Theory of the Human Subject.



It was my ambition, in the last few years and since publishing my book on future psychoanalysis in 2015, to show that psychoanalysis did not just create a theory of psychopathology and psychotherapy but was essentially a theory of the human subject. I tried lately to write a short exposition on the issue of the human subject and publish it in parts in my blog. After a short time, I realized that this task requires the efforts of a group of analysts who realize the significance of deducing a theory of the human subject from the literature of psychoanalysis. Moreover, I had a difficulty in putting my ideas in a concise way. There were many side ideas that kept diverting my attention. They did not belong in a blog because they were more evolved.  They were important enough and have clear intrinsic relationship to the contemporary unsatisfactory condition of psychoanalysis to go over them lightly. They prove that  the absence of a theory of the human subject, if not a cause for the deterioration of contemporary psychoanalysis, at least the existence of such theory is vital in reviving psychoanalysis. What I mean is that neglecting the need for a theory of the human subject that compliments the clinical point of view  was the reason or the cause of the present unsatisfactory condition of clinical psychoanalysis and its loss of credibility.
This is talk but no action. The action, in my case, is to ‘put my pen where my mouth is’. This is what I decided to do: write a book or a booklet on the theory of the human subject, instead of tinkering with a posting on the subject. I have an altruistic reason for taking this decision. Psychoanalysts acknowledge the existence of a crisis that is unavoidably going to end psychoanalysis in a couple of decades. They have no alternative, and maybe no better thing to do but to let it die. However, the psychoanalysis that they are unable to save is not “psychoanalysis”. The example to this paradox could come from politics. Communism died a couple of decades ago when the Berlin wall was demolished, Marxism did not die but even proved to be the only theory that could explain the collapse of communism. Marxism has always considered communism a stage in the evolution of history, thus it should reach the point when it had to collapse. Psychoanalysis (Freudianism) emphasizes the significance of development and maturity as its product. After decades of justified idealization of Freud followed by unjustified adulation of some of his companions and followers we should have matured enough and started to create our own psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is a theory of the subject who is not anymore the Viennese Herr. I hope that in few moths I will be able to fined a publisher to publish my booklet on the theory of humans subject.

Two questions I think could clarify the subject of this theory. Does psychoanalysis have anything to say about “me” who is not neurotic or psychotic in any shape, form, or degree!!!? If it does not, is that because it has nothing nice to say about people?   

Friday, 16 June 2017

I intended to publish the second and last part of my posting on Trump this weekend. I think it is much better to let the events that started today to do the finishing.
 
Before I leave the posting I want to mention an improvised diagnosis made by a bright psychiatry resident at the weekly case presentation at Ste. Mary's hospital in Montreal few decades ago: Counter phobic character disorder....It might be useful following what is going to happen in the next few  weeks or months.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Trump in Perspective: A Point of View
 Part One: Trump and Western Civilization
I am going to differ with some colleagues in regard to narcissism. Narcissism is the most unconscious condition in psychical life. In relation to Trump’s condition I suggest considering ‘self deception’. Self deception is part of character formation and is done consciously and leads to all sorts of forms; one of them self aggrandizement. The self-deceived person believes in his deceptions. I think, from watching Trump on TV he is way deep in self deception, and enticed his supporter to do the same and self deceive themselves.  
…………………………………..
Because this posting is controversial and will raise many eyebrows and objecting voices I will start by specifying three underlying ideas that are the basis of my argument. Thus, if you disagree with them you could save your effort and time by not reading the posting:
1.     Psychoanalysis has no theory of social phenomena (group and historical). Applying the psychodynamics of the individual on society (treating it as an individual) is misleading. As we look for the intrapsychical in the individual we should be looking for intra-social dynamics in society. However, I will try show that there is a certain similarity between the two processes shortly.

2.     It is also erroneous to use the diagnosis of a historical character to explain the historical events that he might have created (not even with Hitler). Historical characters are just agents and tools conceived and amplified by the society to fulfill a historical objective. Hitler alone would not have gave birth to the European Union and Israel.

3.     This last idea is the very basis of my posting: There are two links between psychoanalysis and social theories, particularly Marxism: A. All psychical and historical phenomena are products of dialectical interactions and not results of haphazard dynamics (psychopathology is the outcome of impeding the natural course of a dialectical course, and wars are the result of impeding the natural course of social evolution). B. All phenomena-individual or social- are ‘determined’, their causes are embedded within them, But reaching that determinism happens in the individual’s event by analysing it, and by rebuilding the social or the historical event from the preceding events. They are similar but work in opposite directions. We analyse a dream to find out how it was unconsciously structured, and use a historical event to restructure and understand a previous historical episode. The historical event of the Versailles treaty restructures all the vents that led to WWII.
----------------------------------------

When Trump withdraw from the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation followed by withdrawing from the Paris agreement the reaction was ominous: The US was withdrawing from the international scene- not just as its leader for the last seven decades- but as the most significant country in the world, as her politicians liked to call her. This is happening now under a false conviction that the US has no replacement in that role, therefore the whole world will get into disarray and be forced to accommodate her to remain its leader. This is a foundational conviction of few million Americans; conviction, which as we will see later is historically logical but politically illogical.

The actual problem is that lately- at least since the Soviet Union (then) created a communist government in Afghanistan in1971, the world entered a phase of disarray that had and still have unimaginable consequences. The most important consequence is the birth of ISIS, which is just the tail end of those consequences. The sequence of those events is the intrasocial structure of the current global disarray. It is important to consider them in any understanding of what is happening in the US now. But, it is not within my ability to do that properly and it is of no interest to psychoanalysts. However, we can say that after jumping few decades ahead of its present, the US people elected a black president of an impressive CV and a list of great achievements during his presidency. Yet history proved to pay no attention to the importance of individual political leaders.  Eight years later millions of the US citizens regressed mush more than anyone would have expected and elected the antithesis of Obama; a man with a very shameful CV and a list of four bankruptcies attesting to his incompetence, and more.

What could have interfered with the natural dialectical process of progress in the US to elect Trump? Reconstructing the vents that led to that drastic interfering in history is very interesting and vital, but it has to be done by historians of a certain background.  Because I am a psychoanalyst and speaking mainly to psychoanalysts I will concentrate on one idea: Is Trump really an oddity in historical terms or is he a logical choice for the moment? Remember, there is no chance for escaping historical determinism.

Trump’s shenanigans, especially when he caused the US to lose its long-accepted role as the leader of the world, even by its adversaries, reminded me of two books; one I read in the early 1960, and one I just finished few weeks ago. The first is a book written by a German philosopher (Spingler) which he published in 1922 (seventeen years before WWII; the other is by Richard Haass, published in 2017. The first is about “The Decline of the West” and the second is about the contemporary disarray of our world.

Spingler proposed that the history of humanity went through eight civilizations. Although his specification of those civilizations could be debated, his notion that civilisation moved from the east to the west in a consistent geographical sequence is easy to accept. According to him, and common sense, the Western Civilisation, which we are part of now, is the most recent and the one susceptible to decline. Although I do not remember his argument about its decline and what would replace it when this is done, it still kept me thinking about that issue. Nowadays when we see the world’s condition and a man like Trump becoming president of the leader nation of most of the world, one has to ask: is this the end of the Western Civilization (I do not mean that in terms physical destruction) or could this be the birth of the replacement of that civilizations?

To answer this complex question, I find some leading ideas in Haass’s book entitled “A World in Disarray”. As a political analyst, he gives a detailed reconstruction of the recent events that could give us an answer to the question: Is Trump the end of something or the beginning of something. I want to underline the fact that historical characters are not the initiator of change but merely products of change.

The gist of Haass’s book is world order, how it is reached and how it is lost. He argues that after a world’s crisis happens and resolved - mostly by war-, the victors reach agreements that decides the relationships amongst themselves and with the vanquished. He concludes from the beginning of his book that world’s order that was reached after signing the armistice of WWII and the surrender of Japan is now in disarray. The rest of the book makes an anatomy of the current situation showing how in every corner of the world this order is collapsing. This point of view validated Spengler’s idea of the collapse of the west. Yet, there are few things that points at a different picture. First, the nuclear deterrent is preventing any thought about solving the problem by war as used to happen before. Second, a significant part of the world does not believe much anymore in nationalism and leans toward globalization. Third, the globalization movement has gained independence of governmental control and governments are no longer able to decide anything about commitments and allegiances. (notice what Trump wants to take the US to). Everything now points at the birth of a new civilization that is going to replace the Western Civilization: a global civilization. Europe is showing that this civilization has been in the making for few decades (See Fisk: The European Dream). Obama as a politician was quite open and accepting in that new order (push for regional and international agreements). Contrary to Trump he wanted the West to link with the East not on Geopolitical basis but on trade cooperation. Trump revealed shameful ignorance of international affairs (intellectual) and wanted to undo all that progress which thw hole world is heading for.   
 The most amazing thing in this whole matter is how the world was already ready to moving from the primitive concept of Western Civilization to Global Civilization. The moment Trump renounced the US’s allegiance to regional alliances those alliances discounted the US, and in the same day showing that they were open for new alliances with China and give the hints that Russia will be next.  There is something of interest to even the already bored reader of this posting. We have works describing in detail the rise and fall of empires, nations, civilizations etc. But we cannot get from them the real feel of living the events of the fall of those institutions or the birth of the new ones. But here we are at the very moments of an old civilizations falling and a new one rising. It tells us something very significant about a possible psychoanalytic theory of social events.
In clinical psychoanalysis, we work through a pathological component for weeks and months without a comprehensive understanding of the matter, and unexpectedly a dream, a slip of the tongue, or a minor acting out would reveal the unconscious structure of that component and put the working through in frame. Analysis leads to the unconscious. In social events, we witness historical or social events and understand each separately but without being able to predict what they are leading to. Then comes an event and surprisingly all what we understood before takes a new meaning. All the events that were happening in the cold war took a new meaning as a surprise. All the events from Afghanistan in 1979 till now with the lection of Trump seems to be interconnected and nothing happened haphazardly. those events which made no sense when they happened could explain to us how after the election of Obama the US elected Trump. A psychoanalytic theory of social and historical events has to be about discovering “History’s unconscious”. It has to be a theory of getting meaning from historical events that could explain the historical characters, not visa versa. 
Trump and His Devotees.
Nine-elven was a major blow to the ‘insulated’ American pride because of the extent of damage it caused and its implicit message of the vulnerability of the country (not even in any war did the US lose a building). If we add to that the mild failures in Afghanistan and the major failure in Iraq we realize that a normal reaction to 9\11 was narcissistic rage that hit the whole population of the US, pro-war an anti war alike. Fortunately, and also unfortunately the recovery from this shock was quick and very impressive. In less than the eight years of Obama’s presidency the US recovered and improved its status.  The economy recovered completely, the country was moving ahead smoothly, Obama as a ‘cultured’ person sensed that the US has to be part of the larger world and he joined few important regional trade and economic organizations, gained the respect and confidence of most of the significant political entities. But the recovery was too to fast for a sizable section of the society to assimilate. Some people remained in their state of narcissistic rage being. Those people were prone to self deception for different reasons.
However, there is also a factor that exasperated the situation. Maybe as a stranger I was more attentive to it than the average American. After 9\11 American politicians and public figures never missed a chance to talk about the US as the greatest, the most powerful, the most democratic and the one with the highest values in the world. Even if that is true (which is not) it tempted people to deceive themselves by making their advantages an excuse to look down on others. The narcissistically enraged Americans found in Trump a perfect leader: he confirmed their sense of inferiority and promised them a total recovery.  Moreover, there was no ready leader on the other side to pull them from their despair and show them the actual strength of their country.
A theory of the human subject (the individual) acknowledges that everything in ‘man’s’ life always has two meanings: one obvious (conscious) and one hidden (unconscious). The unconscious one seeks a meaning and could become very vulnerable to self deception because of that need. In  crisis situations the leader with the exaggerated views of things and is able to -himself- to block critical judgment wins (Ghadaffy, Hitler, Trump). Therefore, if we put Trump in the context of the circumstances of his election we will see that what is important for us as psychoanalysts is not to give him a diagnosis but reach a proper diagnosis of the historical moment that gave him (his psychopathology) the power to win an election. We all have characters as we are our character. But some have orderly characters and some have character disorders.  


Saturday, 3 June 2017



Toward a Psychoanalytic Theory of the Subject
…………………..................

3.The Subject and his Counterpart:

Discovering the duality of the subject was a breakthrough, because it became obvious and an accepted fact that the subject is not an ontological entity, but a fusion of what we could notice of him and something else that is only ‘indirectly’ assumed to be there. The subject embodies an active counterpart that it is unconscious to him, but displays its presence to the “other”, but only partially concealed and partially unfathomable. Thus, duality was a great leap in our view of the human subject but did not offer something of theoretical value, because it was understandable. Two things needed to be explored: are the dual components linked or they exist independent of each other? Whatever the answer is it is till of great importance to know how they coexist in the same subject.
The contribution of German idealist metaphysics advanced the European culture in all its endeavours. Many thinkers joined the philosophers in advancing the modern western civilization as whole, and creating a general movement of enlightenment, which was most evident in France (1730–1800). It spread throughout Europe. It introduced two major enlightening notions to the issue of the subject’s duality, which allowed a shift in the attitude toward that duality. The first enlightenment was that the subject’s reason is his exclusive means of comprehending the world around him, and that it is his alone, although it may have some commonality with the reasoning of others. This means that if we are to understand anything about the dual existence of the subject, we have to find a way to ask him to explain it to us. But how can he deduce what is unconscious from consciousness? How can he transcend the consciousness of the self when the self is partly unconscious?

The second enlightenment was that the causes of events are inherent in the events themselves, and the affairs of the subject contain their explanations. Searching for external effects to explain the manifestation of the subject misleads and produce false explanations and comprehension of the human act. As Foucault underline, (1970) the rules of a game are part of the game itself and are not added to it from another source. Thus, the duality of the subject’s went through a major change in the age of enlightenment: the subject’s duality is longer accepted as a split within the subject with no comprehendible cause or possible natural bridging or potential resolution. It became a concept that stands for a partition that is a constituent of human nature, without which the subject would be an entity without quality, or ate best an entity with two different qualities. Thus, the subject has to have an-other lodged in him for both to be his self. That other is neither hidden, nor under, nor behind, but entwined with his other part. The other in the subject is a double that is neither expressing himself in the common language of communication nor making himself understood by any known means. Although the other is “there,” he does not seem to affect anything around him, and seems to be protected from being affected by external effects either. nevertheless, his presence is impossible to ignore because he is an integral part of everything the subject projects. Because the other was (is) not amenable to reflection, thus it is not material for ordinary thinking; it was denoted as the unconscious, the nominal, and the transcendental. The gap between the subject and his counterpart led to a gradual change in understanding that “Other”. The different philosophers who previously dealt with the counterpart as the Other in the subject named it differently. It was the hidden (Fichte), the subject in himself (Hegel), the alienated subject (Marx), the unconscious will (Schopenhauer), the implicit (Husserl), and the subject of reflection (Bergeson).

Laplanche (1997) said, “Western philosophy, which can be encompassed by the general term ‘philosophy of the subject,’ has always stumbled over the problem of the other. For it, the otherness of the external world has always appeared doubtful, problematic, having to be deduced solely from the evidence of subjectivity… Western culture and its philosophy is the culture of the “subject,” though its apparent interest has been in the subject as an object. The other in it is an object for the subject. However, the subject is an other to himself too (p. 653).
With the subject being a duality and the duality being antithetical nature a new concept- the counterpart- appeared to account for the puzzlement about duality. The counterpart is a concept that better suited the changes introduced by the two propositions of the Enlightenment. The counterpart meant that human duality is not the coexistence of an- other within the subject, but rather the self is a unity of an enwrapped antithesis. The proposition that the subject can rely on his subjective reasoning to learn was instrumental in creating a novel interest in the properties of human reasoning-its soundness, limitations, normalcy, and abnormality-and inadvertently led to curiosity about the function of the counterpart in that reasoning. Psychology was born as an independent science of reason (consciousness), and introspective endeavors moved gradually to the center of the studies in that field (Wundt, 1876). Introspection occupied a formal place in science, a place that had previously been the province of the transcendental ego. However, introspection did not provide any substantial additional insights into the nature of the counterpart. Understanding the counterpart posed a problem: the subject cannot be reached by introspection and the Other does not speak the same language the counterpart speaks.

The second proposition that causes are contained within their effects has changed the strategy of diagnosis in the field of psychopathology. In the beginning, mental disorders were ascribed to external causes such as bad spirits, evil eyes, the devil, or even to unexplainable causes such as God’s will. Pinel (1740–1826) broke the chains of the patients in the Salpêtrière hospital and refused to consider them victims of evil spirits. Hence, psychical disorders were considered diseases, i.e., their causes should be found within the diseases like all other medical conditions. Physicians resorted to treating the neuroses and psychoses as deficiencies or overabundances of certain biophysical elements. The advancements in “scientific” medicine based on research, anatomy, physiology, and some supportive branches put the unconscious firmly in the place of the counterpart. It took a very short time for the enlighten psychiatrists in France to discover hypnotism and reach the unconscious almost by accident; the accident of making a calculated hypothesis that it might be what characterizes the counterpart of the subject. The counterpart was not only unconscious but was the unconscious of that particular patient.

The Counterpart and the Particularity of Psychoanalysis:
Based on several details in the evolution of the concept of the counterpart I mean by the exitance of counterpart the emergence of antithetical poles from any of the attributes that constitute an evolving state in the human subject [I intend to revisit this idea later to shoe its validity from the analysts’ clinical work. The counterpart is an operational duality that allows the exploration of the issue at hand, as is the case of the mental function and its duality of conscious/unconscious. I want to highlight and underline something extremely Freudian in Freud’s discovery of psychoanalysis:  did not, create a polarity of two attributes of different qualitative origins in any of his works for the duration of continued modifications of his theory, except for a short time when he suggested a polarity between the ego and the repressed [1920, p. 19], or when he used the conscious, as a certainty to prove the existence of the unconscious which was not yet considered then as a certainty (1915).

By the end of the nineteenth century German Idealistic Metaphysics entered a phase of gradual decline, which led to the birth of the scientific method, both in physics and in the humanities. Freud’s thinking proves that it was a legitimate child of the German idealist metaphysics. His whole text is variations on the theme of duality, in every aspect of his formulations. Ricoeur (1970) said, “A reader familiar with Hegelianism [the philosophy of dialects] cannot but help noticing the constant use of opposition in the structure of Freud’s concepts [which are consistently dichotomous]. It is true that dichotomy is not necessarily a dialectic, and that in each instance the dichotomy has a different sense. But his [Freud’s] style of opposition is intimately involved in the birth of meaning; the dichotomy is already dialectical” (p. 475). The new polarity of the subject and his counterpart revealed a dialectical relationship between the subject’s positivistic status as a subject of study and his tendency to transcend the positivistic case  and undo it. The problem of the counterpart changed from a purely metaphysical problem to a problem that had to be sorted out first within a polarity of physical sciences and human sciences. Capturing the subject in positivist states was a dream of scientists, while facilitating his transcendence of being became a psychoanalytic and ethnological endeavor. Foucault (1970) made an important remark about that polarity when he said, “In relation to the ‘subject of sciences,’ psychoanalysis and ethnology are rather ‘counter-sciences’; which does not mean that they are less ‘rational’ or ‘objective’ than the others, but that they flow in the opposite direction, that they lead them back to their epistemological basis, and they ceaselessly ‘unmake’ that very subject who is creating and re-creating his positivity in the human science” (p. 379). Western culture reached an impasse in regard to the nature of the subject and then in how to understand him. Psychology was promising some serious formulations of the laws behind the subject’s behavior, cognition, and emotions and provided some facts about those aspects. But the counterpart, although there was no denying of its existence, was not amenable to the same methods of psychological study. There was nothing promising on the horizon that could have guided the thinkers to something they might have used to cross the abyss or bridge the gap between the endeavors “metapsychology” because psychologists intended -even then-to go beyond empirical psychology that had to be founded on empirical finding. It is important to bring to attention something that psychoanalysis is suffering from nowadays. Somehow, analysts are treating the counterpart (the unconscious Other) the same way they treat consciousness; i.e. as positivistic entity, and they interpret the primary process as distortions of the secondary process. The unintentional neglect that the counterpart is not repressed consciousness makes them keep seeing, working, formulating psychical phenomena as if the subject is a duality of similar though conflicting psychical entities, while the counterpart forces the issue that psychoanalysis is analysis of a dialectical link between an object-tive and a sub-jective entities.
Another feature in Freud’s thinking-taken from Germain metaphysics is the place he gave to the process of mental representation of whatever is physical, in the mind. This notion is -for the meticulous thinker- the origin of duality in western thinking. The notion that representation creates ideas (see Fichte’s and Schopenhauer’s representations of the unconscious) has become very important in Freud’s classical theory of psychoanalysis (thing presentation and word presentation). In addition to notion of representation, the concept of the Ich as a structure was sometimes considered the antithesis of the subject’s positivistic identity and his transcendental counterpart.
The idea of making the counterpart speak to the subject or even to another in his surroundings was far from being a viable idea. Western culture was waiting for an intuition that would make the counterpart talk and define itself. It was time for a qualitative change in understanding the riddle of the subject. Which of the two scientific approaches was going to give Western culture the intuition that could make the counterpart talk and define itself? Was the answer going to come from the positivistic physical sciences, or was it still going to come from the human interpretative sciences? Einstein once said, “All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge, namely, in axioms, from which deductions are then made…Intuition is the necessary condition for discovery of such axioms” (cited in Calaprice, 2000, p. 287).

It was Freud’s destiny to get the intuition that made the counterpart talk, define itself, and still maintain its dual property as a subject of transcendence and an object of study. What I think is most curious, intriguing, and significant is that his intuition should have come from his work as a physician and psychotherapist buy it came from an unusual interest of his that was unrelated to his work. In other words, Freud was out there to discover a cure for the neurosis, which put him the camp of the nomothetic science of neurology and its medical application. Yet, when it came to him—the physician—from his interest (hobby) in dreams, which were not considered, in any way, a topic in the nomothetic sciences. Freud’s research and practice during the hypnosis period brought him close the splitting of consciousness and the formation of the unconscious source of psychoneuroses, the role of trauma and the notion of arrested affect associated with the repressed. He did not see in all that anything that could lead to a theory of psychoanalysis. But, he uncovered in the area of dreams, parapraxes and jokes a second and quite different language that the counterpart uses to speak in those three phenomena. Freud (1900) wrote of that intuition (in the preface to the third English edition of The Interpretation of Dreams), “Insight such as this falls to one’s lot but once in a lifetime” (p. XXVII).

He was impressed, for a short while, by the splitting of consciousness; he believed that hypnosis revealed that part of consciousness that had been repudiated and caused the pathological condition. However, we notice in his contributions in the Studies on Hysteria (1895b), compared with Breuer’s cases, that he was attentive and sensitive to the patients’ whole stories more than the direct links between the retrieved memories and the symptoms. He was also able to read more in the symptoms than what was manifestly expressed. In the case of Fräulein Elisabeth von R., he commented on one of her symptoms by saying, “I could not help thinking that the patient had done nothing more or less than look for a symbolic expression of her painful thoughts and that she had found it in the intensification of her sufferings” (1895b, p. 152). He even presented a whole case (Katharina) in which he did not use hypnosis to reconstruct the patient’s sexual trauma and relied completely on a brief encounter with her. He mentioned in his presentation of the case history that “[it] is not so much an analysed case of hysteria as a case solved by guessing” (1895, p. 133; italics added).
This step led him to make a very valuable distinction between the manifest and the latent, which replaced the futile cause/effect dichotomy and overcame the limitations of the split of consciousness and the formation of an unconscious content. Freud ignored the significance of the discernment of the manifest/latent connection until he got the intuition that it is the psychoneurosis that does the splitting of consciousness and not the splitting of consciousness that causes the neurosis. In other words, what had been considered the cause of the psychoneuroses was found to be, in fact, its effect. Freud was not in any way prepared, trained, or advised to think about what was to come after the hypnosis stage. But it should be emphasized that the medical preoccupation with the limitations of the transcendence of consciousness-the way consciousness could become sick, its failure to keep the unconscious under control, and the derangement of the mind-led to studying the counterpart in a way quite different from the philosophers’ approach.


Freud realised very early that there no conscious events that does not have an unconscious counterpart. Therefor, psychoanalysis has to be considered not a theory of psychotherapy or psychopathology, but a theory of the human subject who is a formation of antitheses that are responsible for his sickness and health. This is not a different way of saying things; it is saying different things about the subject.


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Toward a Psychoanalytic Theory of the Subject
…………………..................

2.The Background of Psychoanalytic Thinking

As expected, most psychoanalysts considered the effort to locate psychoanalysis within the Western Culture waist of time, and irrelevant to their work. In fact, this belief is embedded in another more significantly misleading: psychoanalysis is an applied technique of psychotherapy that has ‘sort’ of a theory of psychopathology, and likely has some useful input for other areas of the humanities.  Thus, all one only needs to learn its theory of psychopathology and the technicalities of practicing it as psychotherapy. Consequently, psychoanalysis wold look at as an entity in its own right, and could (should) be learned in specialized institutes, and the graduates form closed communities of people of a kind. At best, those communities open their doors very narrowly to allow a little knowledge to seep out, but always protect psychoanalysis from being contaminated by foreign -none analytic- ideas or ideologies. The result of this common belief -as we all acknowledge by now- is a steady deterioration of psychoanalysis itself, declination of its status that was once of a highly-admired enterprise, and an obvious drop of interest in its restoration. Although psychoanalysis is not suffering from this progressive condition equally in every part of the world, there is no denying, though, that it is happening universally creating a global crisis.

The general trend in contemporary psychoanalysis is to keep correcting or improving its current bad condition, and ignore the call for making the necessary changes that address the causes of the crisis. Albeit that all attempts at correcting psychoanalysis have failed, there is vehement reluctance to even look at our resistance to change. I believe this reluctance comes from four sources that when actualized in unison they become irrational objections to change. They are: 1.change is an implicit admission that psychoanalysis is not perfect as we keep claiming, 2.unlike all other epistemologies it does not need revision  from time to time, 3.we do not know what changes to be introduced and how to to do them, 4. and what will psychoanalysis be like if we change it? I am not underling the fear of the major disagreement amongst us if we decided to make changes to what we hardly already agree on now. Those four issues are a result of psychoanalysis being treated by us as an epistemology without any roots or links with anything that came before or came after. 

The simple and direct reason to locate psychoanalysis within its western culture’s framework is to reveal that it is essentially linked with other active elements of that culture, therefore it should be been evolving and progressing with those elements. I firmly believe that those links would show that psychoanalysis is still as important as it has always been to the culture as whole, not only to its practitioners. Accepting this point of view puts the practicing psychoanalyst in a bind: deny its links it has with the rest of the culture, thus let it die while the culture keeps renewing itself, or widen his knowledge to include in his learning none-clinical literature keep it developing it with the rest of the culture. Up till now, learning what is not clinical has not been of significance in analytic training, and there is no conscious concern about how our future will look like, as an isolated epistemology. Moreover, instead of seeing Freud as major link in a significant chain of thinkers, he idealized as an isolated lonely genius who does not belong to anything or anywhere in the past or in his time. He is deprived of  his status as a main contributor to a major culture.

I want to frame this idea as a central question in my attempt at approaching the theory of the human “subject”: Is Freud a link in a chain of interlinked thinkers and philosophers, or a link without a chain or any other attachment that could locate his place in his culture?

My immediate answer right away is that Freud is an important link in a chain of great thinkers who led him to where to started contributing to his culture. His link connects psychoanalysis to other links, despite analysts’ admitting that hesitantly or giving it a lip service. Freud’s link has been and is open for many other chains of idiographic sciences. Those chains should be recognized in order to connect psychoanalysis to its culture and give it a serious push toward a theory of the human subject, which is the only possible and real future for it.

A prelude to psychoanalysis:

Western culture started with its subject being alive but not really extant; an object and agent of knowledge but not emoted or humanly definable. The reason was an underdeveloped sense of separation from his physical world (social infantilism). With the evolution of the subject the he acquired a sense of being outside the world around him; the subject of the Cogito. Ultimately, the culture advanced to form the principal question a culture of its nature and calibre had to pose and puzzle about: what about the subject's sense of existence and his awareness of “being within a culture, yet not part of it”'? What does it mean that the subject has an existence? When we look back at the Cartesian Cogito we realize that the first step taken to acknowledging the subject’s existence was by underlining his duality (a thinker and the thinker of thinking). This might sound, today a frivolous question because we are so familiar with the manifestations of the subject to wonder about his existence. Nonetheless, the question would mean something if acknowledge that the subject was the creator of his knowledge, and also able to realize that he was the precipitator of his ignorance, because his ignorance became a key to unlock that secret. Positing the problem that way confronted the thinkers and the philosophers with a puzzling subject: he was more than the object of the scholastic philosophy of the pre-Descartes times; he was both an item of nature and a transcendental awareness of nature itself, that is, his knowledge of it. The subject had an “exteriority” that turned him into an object of empirical presence, but his transcendence of his empirical existence pointed to a stubborn “interiority” that always transcended his empiricism.

The subject’s duality changed from “I think, therefore I am” to “I am, even when I am not thinking.” Foucault (1970), in response to this shift in the concept of the subject, said, “The cogito will not therefore be the sudden and illuminating discovery that all thought is thought, but the constantly renewed interrogation as to how thought can reside elsewhere than here, and yet so very close to itself: how it can be in the form of non-thinking” (p. 324). As we will see later, the problem was not the separateness of two modes of the subject’s existence expressed in a duality, but rather finding the solution that would sustain the subject’s duality in spite of his duality that could make him stranger to himself. The question was where is the link between the poles of this dual existence? The reason for not coming up with the an answer- from the beginning- was that scholastic philosophy, which dominated the emerging western culture from the twelfth century to the seventeenth century was not interested in the human subject as such, but in his mind and empirical existence (a trend that some analysts keep alive by striving to turn psychical events into empirical facts). Scholastic philosophy was overwhelmed by the richness of the empirical subject that was then-for the first time – a participant in solving his empirical existence.

After an admirable effort by the scholastic thinker to account for the subject’s empirical attributes, philosophers, and German philanderers in particular, turned around to look at the interiority of the subject. A brief account of the efforts of the thinkers and philosophers in revealing the human subject is a very valuable step-by-step guide to the final discovery of the duality of the conscious\unconscious, which was Freud’s lot in life to explicate and work on to give us psychoanalysis. Without reviewing that effort, it would be impossible to understand, and appreciate Freud's half-century of efforts to discover the unconscious. Without reviewing the philosophical background of psychoanalysis, it will look as if Freud has stumbled over psychoanalysis and its birth was just a stroke of luck. The most important and clear issue in that account is that those philosophers discovered most of the features of Freud’s unconscious and even called them unconscious but stopped one step before discovering it as we know it now and it was Freud’s work that took it over that stumbling step.

After Descartes’ initial stab at the barrier between scholastic philosophy and the exploration of the subject’s interiority, philosophers began a great trek toward the core of the subject’s duality. Spinoza’s (1632–1677) thinking was influenced by the Cartesian difficulty in regard to the issue of causality, which resulted from the separating the predicate of existence from its attributives in the Cogito. Thus, Spinoza founded his philosophy on the single and only substance that has the basis and the multiplicity of attributes that constitute the reality in which we live (nature or God). His monotheism had one system that underlay the reality of everything but still had two attributes: thought and extension [material and not-material]. In that sense, the subject was both mind and body but in unison. Damasio (2003) put it this way: “The reference to a single substance [in Spinoza] serves the purpose of claiming mind as inseparable from body. Both created, somehow, from the same cloth. The reference to two attributes, mind and body, acknowledged another duality the distinction of two kinds of phenomena, a formulation that preserves an entirely sensible ‘aspect’ dualism, but rejects substance dualism” (p. 209). Spinoza had the notion that the mind contained the capacity to perceive facts but could also perceive its perception (apperception) or become conscious of its own capacity; a more elaborate way of putting the cogito in a different mode of duality of the subject. He specified a third duality based on the previous one: cause and reason. Perception dealt with the world and led to uncovering its causes, while apperception dealt with the reason of things (its grammar!). This dualism reflected a fourth duality: even though brain and mind were inseparable, they were two distinct entities, physical and psychological. In spite of Spinoza’s monotheism, he resorted to the notion of attributes to account for the perceptible dual nature of the subject. Spinoza, in spite of his basic premise was insightful of the impossibility of dealing with any subjective attribute without having its double in perspective.

 Leibniz (1646–1716) developed a theory of a world composed of units, self-contained centres of force of which everything is formed. He called those units “Monads.” Each Monad was perceptive and desiring, and the subject was constituted of those dualities. In those dualities, perception was geared toward facts and was distinguished from apperception, or the awareness of perception and the reasoning of the perceived. Therefore, the truth of a fact referred to the principle of sufficient reason (nothing takes place without a reason). This principle was a passive quality of the mind and just mirrored the factual world around it. Truth of reason, on the other hand, referred to the principle of identity, which stipulated that a thing could not also be its opposite. This principle was innate and an active attribute of the mind (apperception). Leibniz’s conception of the dynamics of perception and apperception put the duality of the subject in a context of polarities that are qualitatively disconnected but connected hierarchically (quantitatively). Monads were organized in a hierarchy in which the Monad of the soul, for instance, was above that of the body and exerted control over it. His theory led to a concept of unconsciousness that was closer to the desiring aspect of the Monads, which did not abide by reason. The unconscious in that definition could return in other states of consciousness, like in the form of dreams, for instance. Leibniz’s philosophy, though monotheistic in form, was dualistic in substance.

Kant (1724–1804), as he himself stated, was the Copernicus of philosophy. He shifted the duality of the subject’s world into a duality in the subject’s mind. In other words, he did not accept that the world imposed on the subject a dual approach to perceiving it; rather, he believed that the subject’s mind was capable of only a two-stage approach to reality. In his theory, the human subject was endowed with “sensibility,” a passive and receptive quality of the mind, which was affected by things as they are. Sensibility generated intuition, which was an active quality of the mind. Intuition begot the understanding of what was sensibly perceived. Intuition in turn was a product of “a priori” categories in the mind that configured the domain of objects into a domain of concepts, thus engendering thought. Knowledge did not conform to the domain of objects; rather, it was the objects that conformed to sensibility and the categories innately utilized in forming those categories, concepts, and thought. Sensibility and understanding were the limits of our interpretation of our world and the reason that we could not perceive “things in themselves” but only things as they appeared to us. Kant introduced the concept of imagination (which transcends perception) as the compromise between sensibility and understanding. It provided the synthetic categories of causality, reality, reciprocity, etc. It allowed perception to become thought, thought to become understanding, and understanding to become judgment. His view was that natural sciences deal only with the appearance of things and do not yield any knowledge of things in themselves.

Fichte (1762–1814) thought that Kant did not explain the link between sensation and understanding and did not expound on the derivatives of the innate categories that organized our knowledge. However, he took Kant’s notion of I think as the datum of experience and embarked on a very novel metaphysical trip into duality. He stated that both the world and I were strangers to us, though it was the I that apprehended both the external (the non-I) and the mental states (the I). The I that apprehended the mental states did that transcendentally and not by taking the mental as an object of its action, because the I was not a thing or a substance. It was an activity of self-positing that existed in self-awareness but was continually in a dialectical engagement with the non-I (the antithesis), a dialectical negation to affirm the existence of each of them. A second duality was born: that the I has to negate itself in order to become the synthesis of that duality. The most important outcome of the dialectics of the I was Fichte’s expansion of the issue of understanding. He considered the I’s understanding to be geared toward causality because causality was an internal understanding, while reason was external (note his reversal of Spinoza’s formulation).

Hegel’s (1770–1831) approach to comprehending the subject was more straightforward and penetrating. He considered the entire history of Man’s intellectual development a continuous effort of the mind to know itself. He perceived knowledge as a process that is dialectical. At any stage of its progression it unravels the ignorance that needed to be removed by virtue of that knowledge. Thus, a kind of new knowledge emerges as a synthesis of previous knowledges and the ignorance that constituted its antithesis. Nothingness becomes the antithesis of being and forces the mind to discover itself. This dialectical motion produced rationality, which is the equivalent of reality, therefore making anything real intrinsically rational. Hegel’s philosophy was an examination of the subject’s mind and its natural way of knowing, and it was, at the same time, the natural way of knowing the subject’s mind.

Fichte and Hegel’s dialectics were not helpful in analysing the  duality of the subject. There was no clue to which of the representation or the represented constituted the thesis, so we could constitute a clear polarity of thesis/antithesis that would permit further analysis. Even the notion of the link as a synthesis did not lead to anything of value, because it contained nothing more than elements of both the represented and the representation. However, this time the subject took centre stage once again; this time as the location of that link. The subject turned out to be the creator of the link and the one who should discover it. His success or even his failure in discovering that link meant an effort to discovering his “self.” The previous dualities between the subject and nature gave way to a duality between a subject’s reason and his emotions. The subject alone was to unlock that puzzling secret. The subject who was supposed to know had become the object of that knowledge, and the process thus came to a gradual halt. The subject had become a subject and an object of knowledge, both waiting for someone to find a way to introduce them to each other and unlock that impasse.

Schelling (1775–1854) took the opposite position from Kant’s view of where duality existed. He was of the opinion that duality is a quality inherent in nature, because nature effectuated and expressed itself according to the law of “polarities,” or as pairs of opposite though complementary forces. He talked about the unconscious in the context of a process that strives toward its negation. Thus, he posited it in the context of a duality with consciousness. He considered the whole nature of life a teleological advancement toward consciousness, thus the unconscious, in his consideration, was a manifested finality that is a teleological advancement toward consciousness. It is not clear whether he meant that nature has that quality of unconsciousness or he conceived of nature as the unconscious state of the human mind that strives toward consciousness (see Hegel).

Schopenhauer (1788–1860) viewed the world as a representation of the way the principle of sufficient reason (Leibniz) is applied in the four root areas of thinking: the physical world we perceive; judgment or the logical sphere, where truth lies; spatial and temporal intuitions (mathematics); motivation and will. Comprehending the laws of causality led him to understand their conceptual representation (Vorstellogen), which was secondary to abstraction. Schopenhauer distinguished between the thing (the phenomenal) and the thing-in-itself (the noumenal). He applied that duality to the subject and came to the conclusion that the nature of the nominal subject is unconscious, and that his unconscious was a storehouse of motivations and desires, while the phenomenal Subject was conscious, even if only of part of himself. Thus, the unconscious was reflective of the subject’s truth and will. Schopenhauer’s unconscious was very much the antecedent of Freud’s id (a reservoir of the instincts).

Von Hartmann (1842–1906) tried to find the common ground between Schopenhauer and Kant. He agreed with Schopenhauer that the ultimate reality of the subject was unconscious, but he did not agree that it was “blind” will. Von Hartmann regarded the unconscious as having two coordinated functions: will and idea. Will was unable to produce any teleological processes and was accountable for the sense of existence of the that, or the world, while idea was incapable of objectifying the world and accounted for the what of the world, or the nature of that world. He suggested that the end of telos is the liberation of the idea from servitude under the will. Therefore, it becomes possible to advance toward consciousness.

In the nineteenth century, the metaphysics of German idealism were matured enough to start declining. However, exhausted it looked, it succeeded in leading to the point where the subject’s perception of himself as an object of consciousness, and his consciousness of his consciousness, revealed an intrinsic and definite gap, if not an abyss in those dualities. This gap, demanded bridging. Metaphysics in general and the issue of the subject’s duality were facing unavoidable shifts due to a general acceptance and assimilation of the ‘subject’s duality’. One of the most prominent of those shifts was Marx’s (1818–1883) dialectical materialism and what he referred to as turning Hegel’s dialectics downside up. He was critical of Hegel’s notion that reality is a product of ideas, which made the thought process an independent act of the spirit (mind). Marx’s penetrating insights into the limitations of Hegel’s idealism emphasized that the subject’s consciousness and his being were determined by the material social conditions he lives. Marx was the only philosopher yet who linked the subject’s duality with social reality. He explained consciousness as a reflection of inter-social  dynamics that initiates awareness on a social scale. His inter-social dynamics related awareness to interaction with between the subject and his society, i.e., not in vacuum.
Although Marx meant the subject as a constituent of his society-not an ontological entity- he was the first philosopher who indirectly (unconsciously) raises the issue of the intrapsychical structure of the individual. In Marxism, the subject is an entity that is moulded by its society, thus whatever the subject is, his ‘potentials’ will be arranged according to the demands put on him from his society in order to join and fit in it. The subject is the elaboration of the workings of the social forces. This conception is the underpinning of Freud’s exploration of role of the interfamilial dynamics in ‘making the subject’.

German metaphysical idealism led to a subject that, first of all, is not an ontological entity but a phenomenon of being and becoming. It also established his dual property as his basic condition and not a matter of opinion or choice. Thus, the subject emerged from all those philosophical endeavours a phenomenon of existence and not merely an empirical entity.  The phenomenologists and the existentialists (e.g., Husserl and Heidegger, 1889–1976) considered the subject’s duality an existential dilemma. There is no escaping from the fact of the non-singularity of the subject, but the subject is a singularity that is of being-in-the world. The dilemma of comprehending the dual existence of the subject is the gap between the constituents of his duality. The essence of the dilemma was a gap, which is very much the essence of his existence, because the subject’s consciousness and whatever was not yet in his consciousness (Foucault called it the unthought) are together his existence. In other words, duality stood for a schism in the subject that gave him a bi-existence. The most that could be done with this dilemma came from the notion that bi-existence in the world introduced the concept of the counterpart. The subject is himself and a counterpart of himself. But what is the counterpart? Is it different from Schelling’s unconscious or Schopenhauer’s? Yes, it is different, as we will see a bit later.

This very brief -almost hasty- exposition of the dealings of the thinkers with the issue of the human subject highlights points of interest that relate from near or afar to issues that were examined in a ‘psychoanalytic’ way by Freud, in his 53 years of working on the human subject. Freud is a product of that philosophical heritage (he thought of becoming himself a philosopher.  Every philosopher in the chain of Western philosophy uncovered and aspect of what is human in the human subject. They reached the point where duality has to be “meaningful”. Duality had to find its explanation not in philosophy but outside its sphere, i.e., virtue is not only a religious demand but is also a social value. The phenomenologist and the existentialists revised the concept of duality to become a concept of subject and his counterpart. But, they could not make the counterpart speak to its complementary part.  Freud was there and managed to make the counterpart speak to us, and tell us who he is, better who are we.

Psychoanalysis was then born; the subject and his counterpart learned to speak and listen to each other