I wrote this post yesterday as an email to a colleague. I had no intention to publish it. But what happened in Virginia (USA) today changed my mind.
The Crisis of not Being the Only One:
The historical event the US is going through is- in a very brief way- the following.
The USA was the least affected country by WWII. It came out of it with all her industrial and infrastructure bases intact, and relatively with the least loss in its manpower. She was Defacto, the leader of the Western world, and the only power in the world. She replaced the old European colonial countries in their holding everywhere. She helped Europe to recover and helped in building the Iron Curtain around the USSR (as Churchill recommended). Only very lately (last 35 years) Europe recovered enough to not need the US as a leader anymore, but just as a partner. The world also advanced to the point that having a country as a leader of other counties was a hindrance to progress and to good political interrelations.
This change created a difficulty for the US politicians. Because of the wide spread influence of the USA in the world it entered several wars, far from the homeland, and lost them all. The politicians depended on claiming that they are “making” the US the greatest thing in the history of nations, to play with the emotions of their constituents, who were mislead most of the time (not in the Vietnam war). There was a clear link between failures abroad and some dissatisfaction internally and the increase of the politicians effort of agrondization to mislead. It was difficult to keep the constituents in check without misleading them by increasing the rhetoric of the Greatest country in the world, the Greatest democracy in the world, the Greatest wisdom of its forefathers (which are all not true). All of Europe is democratic and have a very simple and practical system of election the US could be envious of. WE ANALYSTS know what a wave of self deception comes from, aims at, and leads to.
There comes Trump. He personalized the frustrated Uncle Sam for gradually loosing his status as the leader of the world, and someone who has a hurt self image. Trump, litraly verbalized those feelings and promised to get the US her lost position as…….. He responded in an adolscents way: will punish you by not being friends again. He was hurt by Europe’s attitude because he is so uneducated. He did not realize that the USA dragged Europe into several loosing wars and was no longer a wise leader to folow. The USA is also t reluctant to admit the truth: there are four big political entities in the world: the USA, the European Union, China and Russia, (maybe will be joined by two more in a couple of decades; India and South America). The differences between those four do not mean much in modern times. However, what is even more painful in loosing the status of the leader of the world is the disappearance of the imaginary enemy that the US will protect us all from. Maybe there was one big enemy to the western world some twenty years ago, but not now. Thus, the US had to invent one and promise to eventually conquer and save the world from, (a target for projection).
Trump, personalizes the narcissistically hurt USA, and is supported by the millions who are also narcissisticallt hurt because they were always masters of others (Blacks, Chicanos, Immigrants, etc.). Our issue is not in agreeing on trump’s diagnosis. Agreeing on a diagnosis of trump- that is if it is possible- aims at convincing ourselves that we have something to offer. What would that do but satify ourselves and give each other a pat on tha back? I supported .......’s view that being busy finding a diagnosis for Trump is a distraction…..from the narcissistic mortification, which a large section of the country is experiencing. Though we cannot treat a country, at least we can put pressure on the politicians to stop exploiting people’s distress and address the main issue: what the USA has to do to live in a world of equals.
Revising the theory:
The issue of the theory of psychoanalysis touches the narcissism of the psychoanalysts. We have never had a theory of psychoanalysis and still do not have one. Freud started with hypnosis to discover repression. Thus, he formulated the Cathartic theory of psychopathology. It came from a practice and to explain the purpose of that practice. He continued to discover in practice that the repressed is more complicated than mere hurtful events, so he created a theory based on what practice revealed: the frustration of a certain energy (Sexuality) which he called libido. Libido theory led to a concept of psychotherapy based on metapsychological understandings. Psychotherapy ‘a la metapsychology’ led to the structural conception of the subject. But once again it was not a viable theory because the unconscious was left behind in the topographic model. In all those shifts and turns psychoanalytic theory was an after thought; after an improvement in psychotherapy. Nevertheless, psychoanalysts were content with having an ongoing process of improvising “psychoanalytic vocabulary”. It gave them a chance to create psychoanalytic templates that made them look as if they have a theory and know it all.
After Freud’s death analysts improvised theories based on their preferred practice sof psychotherapy (Ego, Relational, Interpersonal, Self (instead of ego), etc. Two things could be extracted from this fact: We never had a theory but a series of theories of psychoanalysis that reflects ideas derived from several psychotherapies. Secondly, they were not theories of psychoanalysis but theories of practicing psychoanalysis, which is a basic and serious distortion of the link between theories and practices. In respectable sciences theory comes first to engenders practice, not practice that generates theories. No example required to prove this fundamental fact.
If we do not have a theory of psychoanalysis what is to revise?
Freud was aspiring all his life (review his correspondence (since 1896) to have a theory of the human subject; better a theory of the normal. He succeeded in leaving us and abundance of ideas, insights, concepts, suggestions, etc., about the normal subject but stopped short of formulating a final theory of him. Thus, we need to revise our priorities in advancing psychoanalysis as a theory of all that is related to the subject. We seriously need to rethink the issue of selecting, educating, training, and forming the psychoanalysts of the future. Fortunately, there will still be a place for psychotherapy in that project. We have to revise our knowledge of the human subject because up till now it came from theories of psychopathology that emanated from practices of psychotherapy that were themselves without a credible theoretical foundation. Imagine an Atlas of Anatomy based on the finding of surgens of all specialities and skills. We have to revise the belief that we are actually practicing a theory.
The issue of what would be kept of the old theories of psychotherapy and what should be removed and added will never be settled properly unless a serious, honest, and a collective agreement on doing away with the parochial archaic institute sytem of training.