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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Toward a Psychoanalytic Theory of the Subject
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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

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Toward a Psychoanalytic Theory of the Subject
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I am writing these notes to put psychoanalysis and Freud in the context of their cultural background. I am doing this to show that the birth of psychoanalysis is a historical event that has a rational explanation; it is a natural product of the work of a chain of great philosophers and thinkers who gave us the Western Civilization. Freud genius did not come as a surprise. He came to find an already paved way to the nature of the human subject. It took him more than half a century of focussed attention to the core of the human phenomenon to leave us the elements and component of a theory of that subject. Both the incremental advancement of philosophy and its basic discovery of the duality of the human subject, and Freud’s discovery of the hidden import of that duality deserve admiration and appreciation. Yet, we psychoanalysts ended up idealization both psychoanalysis and Freud. Idealizing psychoanalysis and Freud is preventing us from truly appreciating them both, and preventing us from going ahead to unfold their potentials further. We are just spellbound.  
Idealizing and idealization are features of the adolescents’ attempts at breaking away from the simplistic identification with the parents,by looking for something bigger, better, and maybe also more glamorous. But adolescence is also a stage in development that has to come to an end one day. We must stop idealizing our heritage, or recreating it -presumably- in new schools of psychoanalysis. We should take the step to expound the  potentials of psychoanalysis to complete Freud’s project: a theory of the human subject.
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1. Idealizing and Idealization in Psychoanalysis

Several distinguished psychoanalysts of the old generation (even older than my generation) have talked in the past about the phenomena of idealization in psychoanalysis and underscored its undesirable effect on learning, training, practicing, and even relationships between psychoanalyst in their societies and institutes. Lately, in recent heated discussions of the issue of training, the subject of idealization was brought back to attention, but without any practical solution to its pernicious results. Following some of those debates made me shift my attention from the impact of idealization on psychoanalysis to its causes, and maybe its origin in psychoanalysis.
In every profession, discipline, even musical enterprises, and any general human activity we encounter people whose achievements brought them and justified some distinction and idealization. Psychoanalysis is not different in that regard, but in psychoanalysis, idealization is not clearly product of achievement. Personal analysts and supervisors, whatever their competence, are idealized by the candidates, who carry their idealization forever. Idealization in psychoanalysis is a way of expressing loyalty, but it has another peculiar attribute. Analysts act almost as if they do not know how to relate to each other or to their elders outside some sort of shared idealization. They exchange loyalties and idealizations, almost as if they are unable to live a life without idealized figures in it. Loyalty and idealization are adolescent phenomena. After identifying with the parents, as a means to acquiring an identity, the adolescent turns around to find someone bigger, better, idealized by others to identify with. Am I saying that psychoanalysts lack maturity? Yes, I am saying that ‘not as insult’ but as phenomenon we inherited from our predecessors. The history of psychoanalysis is a history of loyalties and fights based on disagreements about loyalties and idealizations. Idealization and idealizing are difficult to sustain for a long time after the passing of the idealized person, unless, some basic change is introduced to that person’s identity to give it a none-human quality. Religious characters acquire those features after their death, therefore they become immortals. We use this adjective sometimes and in certain situations just to emphasize the greatness of the person we mention. But, we cannot bestow on Freud the attribute of immortality as we use it with Buda. Nevertheless, analysts idealize Freud and psychoanalysis in a peculiar way. He is not immortal but is not just a great thinker like Schopenhauer. We think of as the creator of a unique “thing called psychoanalysis” which was completed by him as a total discovery. Although I would hear many who deny that and agree that psychoanalysis has a place for improvement, Freud and psychoanalysis are seen as above and beyond the “event” of its birth of psychoanalysis.
We have to remind ourselves that we have learned from psychoanalysis that idealization originally belong to the realm of defense mechanisms. Idealization is originally bestowing the most desirable qualities on a person by projection, then repossessing them by introjection to make them ours; thus, we become as great as our idol. We see that clearer in ideological issue: Moslems bestow a remarkable amount of great qualities on the prophet Mohammad, as a step to pronounce Moslems the best people earth, etc., on earth. The most remarkable feature in idealization is in its negative form. too When people see their enemies as ideally bad (by projection too) thus they become the ideal best with little ‘shame’. The mechanism of idealization would last longer, and distort reality most if the people who are using it are a closed society. The closed society where idealization is rife does not accept becoming open, because being special is a prerequisite for idealization to work. And that is nature of the psychoanalytic community. We are special people, who have ownership of something special, bequeathed on us by an unusual man. We are the sons and daughters of an unusual   man and we should maintain the belief in that story (myth).
Freud knew about that trick early when he accepted and blessed the secrete committee. However, because the committee had to disband a new closed community had to replace it: it was the IPA supplied by the products of the training system ( the system of institute training). Training has become a trap for young people who want to learn psychoanalysis. It (as an authoritative establishment) gives the candidates the message that they are special, because they will be members of a special group of professionals, trained by special people (who would check the validity of that), and will belong to that closed community, which is the descendant the genius Freud. Idealizing Freud-and maybe few of his disciples) is a must.
However, all the confirmations of the harmful system of believes we instilled in the candidates have not succeeded in curtailing the older generation of analysts from encouraging idealization to even themselves.  However, when Freud and psychoanalysis are put within their true background we will all realize that psychoanalysis and Freud are preceded by great works of great thinkers and they could and should be seen in that light. We will see the real greatness of Freud and his discover with any idealization needed.     
  For reasons that have been abundantly written about and discussed extensively, Freud was and still is held in high esteem in psychoanalytic circles and to an extent in Western Culture as whole (I use culture here instead of civilization because psychoanalysis is more  part of the culture of that civilization, which  is more encompassing than just having a  cultural content). Regrettably, the idealization of Freud by professional psychoanalysts is based on judging his creation of psychoanalysis as an act of personal genius and making his contribution to Western Culture look like an unplanned accidental act of a chance. Notwithstanding, Freud ‘psychoanalysis’ would lose its most important value if it not seen within the more encompassing context of his culture and not within the limited context of the genius of a person. For that reason, it was viewed, from time to time, as an event that could be bypassed, or a discovery that could be surpassed by better ones. Those attitudes prevailed serval times over the years, both outside the filed of clinical psychoanalysis and inside it, but eventually were corrected fast. The problem got complicated whenever psychoanalysts espoused that attitude, because it meant that they did not understand what Freud’s achievement really was. When analysts limit their understanding of psychoanalysis to a moment of genius by Freud or what it offered them clinically, this means they could not reach a true conception of psychoanalysis as a founding part of the culture they live by and within. Roudinesco (2016) rightly said that “From the onset, Freud sought to make it [psychoanalysis]a full- fledged system of thought, one that could be conveyed by a movement of which he could be not the leader but the master.”                                    Missing this point (even if Freud has encouraged that) made analysts see psychoanalysis without or in isolation of its ‘comprehensive’ background; a gesture that allowed them to maintained their contentment with idealizing its creator. In other words, psychoanalysis separate from its background, which is the Western Culture as whole, is just a bright discovery that was glaring sometime ago but needs continuous polishing all the time. It will also mean that Freud was merely a bright physician-thinker who showed some distinction in his time; it is enough to declare our loyalty to him.
There are four questions to ask: could psychoanalysis have been discovered in the Acadian or the Pharaonic cultures? Why it did it not? Could some genius of the scholastic era have discovered psychoanalysis in the thirteenth century? Why not?
The cultural context of Psychoanalysis and Freud:
Western Civilization is the latest after seven others that flourished before. It is also the only one that seems to become universal and not limited the geographically like the other seven (Spengler,1932), The cultures prior to the Western Culture had their own main preoccupation, ranging from state building, order and law, religion and morality, even thinking and logic. Those cultural efforts led-in a natural way- to the human subject; the benefactor of the novel initiatives and the initiator of the ideas inherent in their achievements and engendered their establishment. However, there was a need for a bridge between civilizations that dealt for thousands of years with the practical and material needs of its subjects. There was a very significant cultural bridge between the old cultures and the Western one embedded in the Greco-Roman culture. The Greco-Roman culture could be considered the precursor of the Western culture. It was a period of very extensive elaboration of mythology where the events looked like ‘history’ of real events and peoples. The subject was embryonic in those myths and was showing his identity in sly ways. Therefore, once the subject matured enough in those myths and became the master (victim) of those remarkable events the Western culture identified its subject matter. It was a wakeup call. Humans reached the point where they had to take a daring step toward their own exitance. The Western culture turned its attention to the human subject. Without any helpful hints from the former cultures to formulate rational questions about ourselves, and with the heavy burden of previously specious religious notions about our creation, Western thinkers approached the human subject from a very intelligent angle: could we use the same attitude we take in understanding the things around us in understanding ourselves? There was no instant answer but there was a reaction that came from philosophy.
The discovery of the “subject” in the Western Culture requires examining the progression of its philosophical thinking, which in this particular culture started by something physical (the Heliocentric theory of the ‘universe’ conception), in contrast with the mythologies and spiritualities of its beginnings. That theory put the human subject in a new perspective: his relative existence to every other existence. Thus, the unique and privileged status as God’s favourite creation, which he enjoyed before, was relegated to being relative to the rest of the other ontological entities around him. Better, by relegating earth to only a planet rotating the around a star revealed the human subject as an object of inquiry like every thing else. However, we have to be careful in reviewing the philosophical thinking of the culture about the subject, because we could overlook a silent distorting influence in that matter. We tend to understand relations, attributes, the implied and values not as they were perceived in the past, but as they mean to us now.
During the medieval era, the Western European subject had a communal sense of identity, believing that people were entities that are the property of God and the church. Medieval Western Europeans were unable to recognize or consider a latent “something” in themselves, or a thinking subject within them, irrespective of class or status. Their religious orientation and ethnic affiliations functioned as a barrier between them and any possible subjectival (subjective) knowledge, and also between them and their interiority. They had no sense of subjectivity, or at least individuation was not crucial to their social functioning. The subject was his ‘external entity’, belonged to, and with, the other external entities. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Europe went through great political, religious, and social changes, specifically a renaissance of the Greek traditions of thinking. The subject was emancipated from the feudal system, entered the system of the city and the state, and became a citizen. West Europeans faced, for the first time, the autonomy of the subject’s mind, and the responsibility that came with it. They also faced the idea of being accountable for their acts, which was part of the subject (subjectival) understanding of the world. It was demanded of them to use their reason to know, rather than accepting religious dogmatized knowledge without giving it their own seal of approval. They came from a world where everything was understood (and understandable) and where the nature of things was there in the words that denoted them to a changing world. Words that seemed to emanate from the things they denoted and givens, were discovered to be a human option. People could not believe anymore in the intrinsic link between words and things, things and meanings. They had to rely less on finding truth (reality) in the words spoken. They had to examine matters by themselves; not rely on the word of God or the priest. They faced a new type of problem that demanded that they find the semblance between things and their signs (words), and to reveal the correct analogy between things, words, and meanings. The people of the Renaissance had to make up their own minds and trust those who made up their own minds and their own judgment.
The subject had become the only source of certainty about a world that emerged from the fog of collectiveness. A shift of that nature led, in the sixteenth century, to the problem of uncertainty and the quest for certainty: How could a subject believe in his judgment? The subjectivity of the sixteenth century was that of a subject who is equipped to examine the world in order to make certain of it. In other words, the subject was faced with signs that spoke about something that was supposed to be dormant in those signs. How could things mean what they believed them to mean? How could the human subject deal with his doubt? In 1637 Descartes made doubt itself the evidence of and the reference to the existence of “certainty.” The certain thing, in that case, was the doubting subject himself, who showed his independence of his world. The subject had to deal with that obscurity and make sure of his certainty. After several centuries of examining the world around us for the first time as operating ontological entities that have their separate qualifications and require separate examinations, the human subject was eventually discovered as one of those ontological entities that need examining. He was considered before from the religious and scholastic points of view. It was unavoidable that he was going to be seen as an existence that is radically distinguishable from the rest of the ontological entities, because of his quality of consciousness, which existed only in part in  the other entities.
We can consider Descartes the first thinker who opened to door for thinking, and thinking about “Man” in particular as an object of thinking. Certainty in that regard seemed made certainty about the human subject a problem? The problem and the issue in this angle of looking at the human subject is a basic divide between thinker and thinking: I think (awareness of my presence) attest to my being (I am). Descartes, unintentionally, uncovered the impossibility of considering the human subject an ontological entity: he is partially and entity (feeling, thinking, desiring, etc.) and partially another entity of consciousness of his first entity. The Cartesian Cogito, the first pronouncement of the exitance of the subject, revealed his implicit duality.
The Cartesian duality in the seventeenth century represented a major step toward a gradual discovering of the subject and the eventual facing of an impasse: something is missing in this duality and without it the search stops dead. It is important to underline two points that are likely to be missed in a condensed review of Western thought about the subject’s duality: (a) The philosophers who thought about this duality were not, at the time, cognizant that their significant insights were links in a developmental chain leading to a major very important puzzlement. Their insights were incremental advancements toward an impasse that required a new intuition about the link between antithetical elements in that duality. The duality of the subject seemed, at first glance, an ill-advised notion, yet, it came as a natural result of finding out the fused identity with its consciousness. Duality was fruitful and a necessary approach (method) to studying the puzzling natur of human subject. The current anti-dualistic views build their arguments on the arguments that were previously identified and considered without solution. Yet, they were very revealing arguments used by Damasio (1994) later to support his view of the duality of subject as the way to approach him.
       The subject moved from the certainty of the unity of signs and things to the semblance between intent and its meaning. He had to find a connection between the given sign and what to figure out about it. He had to interpret the world where he found himself in its centre. Foucault (1970) expressed the new demand on the subject this way: “To know must therefore be to interpret: to find a way from the visible mark to that which is being said and which, without that mark, would lie like unspoken speech, dormant within things” (p. 32). The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries witnessed radical changes in the quest for certainty. Language too was about to receive a blow that would move it from being the tool of certainty to being, in itself, a subject of doubt. It became clear that language acted like a veil between the subject and the world. The signs were linguistic representations of things, which in turn had presence only in language; things to the subject were simply and only representations. The sign, the word, could be close to or distant from the thing it represented, just as the link between a word and the thing it denoted was found to be arbitrary; yet that arbitrariness did not increase or decrease the value of the sign. The sign combined two aspects: the thing it connotes and represent that thing; its nature was to stimulate the first by means of the second. “Language is simply the representation of words” (Foucault, 1970, p. 209).
In the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, duality became the attribute and the foundation of thought. In the late eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, the link between the representation (the signifier) and the represented (the signified) became probable, possible,  arguable and arbitraray; thinkers challenged previously established knowledge and refused categorical thinking. Knowledge was no longer there in the representation but was located instead in its reconstructed interpretation. The gradual awareness of the linguistic veil between the subject and nature (even human nature) pushed the frontier of knowledge to the nature of the link between the signified and signifier. Awareness of the relationship between representation and the represented that interprets it presented the thinkers of the time with a very challenging problem. Meaning, which is implicitly dormant in that separateness, emerged as the essence of knowledge. Thus, it was concluded that representation also hides, camouflages, and deceives. The world, in which language conceals as much as it reveals, had become an arena for dissembled meanings that demanded unveiling, without which the representation remained silent (speechless). However, the gap between the representation and the represented was thought to be bridgeable by deduction; logical answers to reasonable questions. understanding. Still, meaning proved to be elusive and shifting in the best deductive thinking.
In the nineteenth century, a major change happened when it was realized that it was not enough to use the act of interpretation to remove obscurity; we have to deconstruct the way obscurity was constructed in the first place, in order to uncover the meaning of the interpretation. Two major shifts evolved: (a) a search for the way the representation is linked to what it represents and (b) the treatment of language as a subject of investigation and not just the tool of investigation. The represented was no longer considered naturally linked to its representation; it was no longer assumed that words and things are organically connected. The main feature of that period was the gradual shift from interpreting the representation to deconstructing it, as the act that leads to finding meanings. This shift coincided with a rebellion against “reason” (neoclassicism) and the birth of the romantic movement. Interpretations became conjectural certainties, certainties of transient nature. A new type of doubt emerged: it was not a doubt about the subject’s reason, but doubt that reason alone is enough to reach understanding. The romantics were intrigued by the way feelings and emotions could make people subjective, unreasonable, and neglectful of physical reality, yet interestingly, in spite of all that, truer to themselves, so long as they let their emotionality and its reconstructive power interpret the world of signs. The duality between representation and the represented moved from outside to inside, becoming an internal duality between a rational subject and an irrational subject, between the subject who contributed meaning to the world and the subject who was self-deceptive and lost this meaning.
The Cartesian Cogito released the Genie from its captivity. It came out as a long-denied duality that demands recognition. It was not a  manageable Genie; it required a great deal of effort to tame it.

My next part of this post (in two weeks) will be From the Duality of the subject to the Counterpart 

Monday, 10 April 2017

Part Five: 
Training and the analytic community:
Psychoanalysis in Europe, particularly in the Latin countries, did not depend ‘that much’ on the clinical psychoanalysts to advance and keep going. It got very good and valuable input from the public both the analytical savants, and just cultured people. However, clinical analysts in Europe did not decline their responsibilities and worked on some of the traditional topics in clinical work, e.g., reconstruction and the bases of some of the main concepts like sexuality, affect, narcissism. Psychoanalysis there maintained its distinguished status among the intellectuals despite suffering from the same international trend of declining interest in its clinical practice. In the USA clinical psychoanalysis suffered from the same trend of declining interest in its clinical part, but it also suffered from the declining interest of the clinicians in their field. They stopped developing clinical psychoanalysis as I pointed out before. Because clinical psychoanalysis in North America was almost a synonym of psychoanalysis, psychoanalysis started to die as a result. The interest in exploring the clinical domain was neglected because of an implicit belief that it has reached its limits, instead of realizing that analysts refused to change with the change of their patients. Clinical analysts became instead theoreticians who embarked on ‘modernizing’ the classical theory. The subtle and indirect result was deterioration in the quality of psychoanalysis and the drop in the interest in it. Therefore, reviving psychoanalysis needs the clinical side to explore new horizons in the area of technique and practice to answer to the new psychopathologies we work with now. To do that, we have to plea, advocate, act, and go to our basic psychoanalytic characteristic: breaking new grounds of discovery in all the stagnant aspects of our discipline: teaching, training, supervising, qualifying the new generation of psychoanalyst, revising our arsenal of basic literature for a revitalized training system, our believes that we kept as if they were religious sacred ides. However, all that could be done in a destructive way if we do it as attempt to rid ourselves from whatever psychoanalysis we still have. But it could also be done to protect the psychoanalytic revolution from becoming history.
I will get directly to the practical way to achieve that (in my opinion).
It is more than clear that the trajectory of the future of psychoanalysis is to decline and inevitably to disappear; that is if we insist on maintaining the present course of qualifying psychoanalysts. After a hundred and ten years of its life and after the glorious first half of its life, the membership of the IPA stands at 12,000 members in the whole world. This is close to the membership of the APsaA in its glorious days. Psychoanalysis will die either by attrition (the age of its membership) or by suicide (implosion under the weight of its haphazard obsessive trend to increase the membership numbers). There is good arguments that the IPA and its branches could be responsible for that, not only by neglect but by active undermining of making the necessary changes to training.   
·          In Europe, there are very serious and productive universities that are teaching psychoanalysis and providing equally serious training in its various aspects. Those universities are established and run by “baptized” trained psychoanalysts. In my limited contact with a couple of those universities it was emphasized that the graduates are not trained to be called psychoanalysts. This point was stressed by the faculty, because the faculty of those academic programs are members of the IPA and would not undermine its status. The education and training of the students qualify them to officially practice the psychotherapy they learn in their university programs (which is psychoanalytic). I surmised (and I could be wrong but not much) that the academics who run those programs, who are graduates of the IPA, do not want to create problems of ‘conflict of interest’ with their basic training institutions. Thus, with very minor changes in those academic programs to include trivial differences from the APA’s training system the graduates could easily become members of the IPA. They are, in more that one way, better qualified as psychoanalyst but need vetting their clinical because the regular institute candidate is accepted for training after obtaining a degree in a specialty in a branch of mental health.
·          Opening up a sincere and mature discussion of the almost delusional conviction that the local, regional, and international organizations have the authority to certify psychoanalysts, will expose a basic misleading belief. The IPA training institutes do not certify the graduate to practice psychoanalysis. We are accepted in the traditional institute because we are already certified to practice psychoanalysis (treatment of patients). Removing this false impression from our unchecked believes would give the universities the freedom to establish it own standers of practicing a mental heath act, and go full speed in improving their programs to create the profession of psychoanalysis. If the IPA refuses to accept those graduates as members- who will be in the hundreds- it will be submitting its future to dissolution.  
·          To minimize the ‘withdrawal symptoms’ of such a bold change the IPA could be given partial say in the academic programs and a period of grace to participate in building those academic programs. This, I believe, will easy because up till now both camps are made up of psychoanalysts who think and talk the same language and have the same objectives. Another privilege could be allowed to the IPA to  continue its institutes’ training parallel to the academic programs until it fades away in a natural way. Recognizing, agonizing and admitting that the present system of training is deceptive is in the best interest of the IPA and its national and regional branches. Psychoanalysis will regain its status by being part of a system that adopts clear, traditional, well tested and proven models of training professionals, which of a higher caliber to the present outdated system training. The present system has been described by hose who are in charge of it as being corrupted by factors that are intrinsically part of its structure.
·          Turning psychoanalysis to academia will change the narcissistic element of getting the institutes training into professional pride. Becoming a psychoanalyst with an accredited university degree in psychoanalysis is much better for us as analysts and for the needing patients, because a university degree qualifies a person objectively to belong to a profession. The years of learning psychoanalysis in academia that should replace the numbered (counted) hours for gradation will give the psychoanalyst a distinct identity instead of the vague identity of a member of a trade.
·          Hopefully, this will also deal with a central issue in training: personal psychoanalysis. In the academic setting of training personal analysis should not be this mysterious obligation that serves a false purpose. On the contrary, it will be a necessity to benefit properly from the clinical supervision part of training. Without it it will be difficult to meat requirement of competence in dealing with psychoanalytic situation and technicalities of the set up of the analytic session. The candidate realizes specifically what it is for, and where its functional usage stems from. Personal analysis in the present system of training has to be neuroticized to be swallowed and accepted.   
·          There is an obvious characteristic of contemporary psychoanalysts. They are very noisy about their imaginary acts of changing without looking at what they have changed. This is a main feature in irrationality. The irrational is usually so absorbed in stubbornly repeating his previously failed solution, that he would not notice that he is actually without real hope in changing anything. This feature is complicated in psychoanalysis: contemporary psychoanalysts have already witnessed the failure of several previous attempt to change psychoanalysis. They also witnessed-as candidates - how their training was useless or limited in keeping up with changes within the area of practice. Therefore, they resort to idealizations to tolerate the disappointment if not repression in their training and training analysts. Repeating their experiences is sometimes stretched to imagining that what they are doing is improvement or different from what was done with them. We do not encounter this irrationality in academia. A failed program is recognised as a failure according to the traditional academic standers and not according to how the creative professor or the students feel about their professors.

Closing words:
Anyone who lived long enough and kept an eye on the past and the other on the future will see that we are at a different moment in the history in our evolution. The human subject has changed drastically after the last three centuries and is now better equipped to judge himself than at any time before.  The irrational clashes and wars of those cemeteries, in particular, were baffling and led to Freud’s discovery of the existence of psychical life. Psychoanalysis has given our forefathers a way to think about the human factor in shaping history. Wars and irrationality have become unacceptable human attributes. By the end of the twentieth century the human race-for the first time- renounced the old morality of discriminations. But, as the last breath of resistance to that radical change we face desperate efforts to maintain the ethics of discrimination. For example, the advancing movement toward ignoring borders and boundaries in Europe generated the Islamic segregation ideology, which is based and founded on another internal segregation and a split between two fictitious religious sects. The agonizing terrorist waves are reactions to the unstoppable movement toward a unity among the developing human race.

At least, we can realize the breakthrough psychoanalysis has created to advance our knowledge of the psychological nature of our existence. But, it will take some convincing that psychoanalysis is not a great discovery; it is the outcome and the by-product of a need to know what we the human subjects are made of. Freud reacted to that need well, and in the best way possible. Now, as we have already achieved that success, and we are already evolved beyond the point he reached and guided us toward, we cannot stop at that. It would be a major mistake if we let ourselves believe that we can face the new human achievement by a psychoanalysis of the part-object, the introjected bad breast, the tragic man, and the democratic patient-analyst relationship. We have to evolve and change. The clinical analysts have to assume the responsibility of exploring new horizons in the practice of psychoanalysis and come up with questions and answers for the none clinical analyst. The important point here is that psychoanalysis could die as a clinical discipline but not as the theory of human subject. We need to change to remain useful because if we don’t psychoanalysis will continue its advancement and we will stay behind,


Saturday, 8 April 2017




Part Five:
The Irrational Resistance to Changing Psychoanalysis:

I define the gist of my Post: New Horizons for Clinical Psychoanalysis by two aimed for objectives: First: Bring to attention that clinical analysts have stopped considering their field an ever-evolving field in the area of clinical work, and put most of their energy and creativity in recycling recycled concepts (several times) of the original theory of psychoanalysis. Second: that clinical psychoanalysts are not giving attention to the deteriorated condition of psychoanalysis, both as theory and clinical practice, although the claimed the responsibility to bring psychoanalysis out of its slumber. Temporarily, I would say that the closed community of psychoanalysts and the institute system of training that is archaic and strained are insolating analysts and candidates from the outside world of the humanities and do not allow or accept non-analytic criteria to measure their activities against.
A closed community is not closed by force but by choice; analysts seem to like it like that. Everything in the field of psychoanalysis show that change is desirable, required, and most of all inevitable, that is if we care to keep psychoanalysis viable we are inclined to be part of its future. All the efforts made to maintain the status quo have failed. Wallerstein, over thirty years ago suggested the big tent idea. That was-against his expectation-a call for whoever to spread their own tents. The recent efforts to resuscitate psychoanalysis locally or internationally are just delaying its demise. Although there are not many suggestions to revive it there is undeniable irrational resistance to considering changing the status quo. The irrational is continuing the failed solutions with hope that next time one will work instead of trying a new solution
What is new that calls for change?
There are two issues that are seldom considered by clinical psychoanalysts because they insist on denying the obvious: they are dealing with new and different patients that they study in the Institute training. They overlook the fact that humans now are very different from what they were two hundred years ago, for instance. We change and make our changes change us. Over time changes affect our psychical and social life, they generate new and different emotional concerns, even new moralities. We form different ideas on maters of society and individual responsibility which in turn demand new ways of bringing up our children, thus influencing the intrapsychical dynamics of the individual. Those changes might not interest the limited clinical psychoanalyst but there no way away from studying the factors that impact clinical practice and our views of psychopathology. It is unlikely in todays practice of clinical psychoanalysis to encounter patients that are similar to the patients that were treated by our predecessors. Anxiety hysteria for one, was the neurosis of preference for the middle-class females of Vienna a hundred years ago. Now it would not be called a neurosis anymore but just feminine silliness or neuro myalgia. Patients fifty years ago, came with symptoms, when patient of nowadays come with the complaints about their lives. Without considering that fact we will not notice that our theoretical mess and confusion about practice come from refusing to change, while the patients are changing. Thirty years ago, there was still room in the field of psychopathology to name new kinds of patients. They came without displaying neurotic symptoms so we were able to call them ‘narcissistic disorders’, but not any more. Most of the very successful and well adjusted people and leaders of our time would be diagnosed that way if we are not carful to acknowledge that we humans have changed lately and could not be understood using old nosologies.
Secondly, all the previous attempts at formulating a comprehensive theory of psychoanalysis were derived from poor and hasty theoretical configurations of psychopathology. The reason is that psychopathology was a novel way of looking at human nature. The novelty was also in finding new vocabulary to describe the new discoveries. The new vocabulary was implicitly suggestive of a sort of explaining the described behaviour (repression, defense, resistance sublimation, etc.). The newness that was introduced by the psychoanalytic movement to the budding branch of psychiatry generated the idea of psychotherapy. For the old generations of psychoanalysts this novelty did not cause any confusion. They did not concern themselves with what is not pathological; the normal was just normal. They were working with symptoms and to a degree some purely psychical complaints that had some semblance to symptoms. Although it took time before we started to spread our wings to apply psychoanalysis to “non-pathological’ manifestation of the human subject, we did not have anything else to use but our theory of psychopathology. Frequently some of us came up with ridiculous explanations of ordinary phenomena and considered that “application” of psychoanalysis. Applied psychoanalysis of the time was not applying the psychoanalytic method of investigation of certain phenomena, but applying the theory itself of psychopathology on non-pathological phenomena, both individual and groups. The necessary distinction between a general theory of the unconscious (a theory of the subject) and a specific theory of the unconscious ( a theory of the patient) was not made in those works; psychoanalysts then were fascinated by their newly discovered freedom to engage-with authority- in any sort of debate about the human subject and his phenomena.
The outcome is what we have now: desperate attempts at formulating theories to regain a superiority lost, when we have made almost no new clinical discoveries for decades. Confusing what the analyst listens to with the practice of a new presumably new psychoanalytic theory is now accepted as our advanced clinical psychoanalysis. What I mean is: the analyst who identifies himself as a self psychologist convinced himself that he is listening to the self and not to what the object relationist listens to. Presumably, if the self psychologist still considers himself a psychoanalyst he should be honing in on something unconscious in whatever the patient is talking about. The psychoanalytic technique of practice is looking for the unconscious in whatever patient’s is presenting in his speech. Thus, a smart response to my interjection would be that the analyst listens to what he considers more demonstrative of the unconscious than other things. A smart reply to the smart response is: what do we psychoanalysts endeavour to achieve with our patients: change ‘their’ selves, their intersubjective relationships, their object relations, etc., or try and help the patient change himself so he could later change whatever he likes or dislike about himself?
What is new in clinical psychoanalysis is calling mere unsupported view points psychoanalysis, under the guise of contemporary theories. We, clinical analysts neglected our responsibility of preserving the original theory, and adapting the newness of psychopathology to that theory not adapting the theory to the original conceptions of psychopathology. I will give example a little later.
The Source of Resistance to Change:
The contemporary literature of psychoanalysis is rife with poorly recycled ideas of earlier analysts; mainly the second generation (Klein, Bion, Winnicott, Hartmann, Fairbairn, etc.). When those ideas and their terminologies were first published we (third generation) new what they meant: they were terminologies that explain the vocabulary of the first generation in a manner that is offering the chance to formulate a theory of the subject. The good-enough mother, the good object, the alpha and beta functions, did not stand for something new; they meant a mother that give the child a healthy Oedipus triangle, a father that encourages his daughter to be attached without guilt or shame, or coexistence of primary and secondary processes creating the link between fantasy and thought. Compare that with a young analyst (20..!) who translated Freud famous adage of where id was ego should be as the: “growing up (the task of the child) and getting better (the task of the patient) have to do with transforming id into ego. Freud’s adage was a metaphor that expressed the outcome of interpretation in a good practice, then, the young clinical analyst used that adage as a concrete replacement to making the unconscious conscious.  The original and its explication are now a theoretical idea that has no roots, except historically. Contemporary psychoanalysts and the candidates of recent believe that if they could use those adages of the older generation analysts correctly then could claim that they are doing clinical analysis as well as those other analysts. Just as an additional clarification to that: could any new analyst tell me what is the clinical equivalent to “the persistence of searching for the good object”, or how could I convey to the patient, in the simple direct language of interpretation or reconstruction, such neurotic inclination? I had candidates in supervision and in the seminars who knew all the concepts and the vocabulary of the old and the latest improvised theories but did not understand them or know what they could extract from them to use in practice. They were flaunting their knowledge, which in fact worked as a barrier between them and understanding psychoanalysis: Listen to the patient (not to Winnicott or so and so), Understand (not invite Klein to understand him for you), Interpret, and reconstruct the patient’s associations (which must have told you his specific experiences not some generic stories).
What is new and has to change starts with training and the link between Institute training and the psychoanalytic organizations. The reason is that psychoanalysis now is more involved and more elaborate to be communicated and transmitted to new generations of already keen candidates in five or six hundred hours of seminars and supervision. It is also in foundational links with several human sciences that were not existing when the training institutes were first established. Changing training to meet the requirements of a modern psychoanalyst will demand and force radical adjustments in both in system of trainingg, the faculty that will train, consequently the psychoanalytic institution and its professional functions, A threat that made some privileged psychoanalysts resist and fight against, even if irrationally.

How to go about that when and if we manage the resistance to change.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Part Three:
Two More Central Clinical Issues;
Interpretation and Reconstruction:
Interpretation is the psychoanalytic act, reconstruction is the work of the psychoanalyst. Both are clinical psychoanalysis.

A.   Interpretation;
The Interpretation of Dream changed psychoanalysis in a fundamental way. Before that work, the patient was supposed to retrieve the repressed from behind the wall of repression with the help of hypnosis or the analyst’s persuasion. In the ‘Interpretation of Dreams’ Freud showed in a clear convincing way that the manifest dreams could have implicit expressions of the repressed. Relating those findings to the patient comes through interpreting the dream. In a simplistic and misleading way, interpreting a dream meant then to bring the latent meaning of the dream out of its manifest content, through what the associations bring to the dreamer’s mind. It is simplistic in terms of the  theory of repression, because it turns the unconscious meaning or the latent into a content already formed and just awaits removing its disguises to reappear in consciousness. It is misleading because the act of interpretation- in those terms- is an act of discovering an already existing meaning and delivering it to the patient (the most common mistake in practice till now is giving the dream or the any other psychical function a psychoanalytic meaning, as if it stands for the repressed meaning).
There is an unclear notion in Laplanche and Pontalis’s definition of ‘interpretation’ in The Language of Psychoanalysis about the problem of secondary elaboration in dreams and how interpretation has to deal with the latent meaning of a dream or a symptom that is product of some sort of secondary elaboration that must have made changes to the original meaning. This notion, makes us reconsider the common meaning of interpretation as  an act very similar to linguistic translation (English to French). Interpretation-at least in psychoanalysis- is more than saying the same thing in two different ways: love is amour (linguistic interpretation) and love is a noble feeling (an interpretation of value). To give an example of a psychoanalytic interpretation that considers the working of secondary elaboration I refer you to the dream of The May-Beetle Dream, (The Interpretation of Dreams, Vol.1,287-289).  Freud mentioned in that dream associations of a compulsive idea the dreamer suffered from. The compulsive thought was asking her husband to hang himself. The associations revealed a wish he would get an erection by any means. The plea to hang himself was a secondly elaborated wish to get an erection. Interpretation is thus not attaching a meaning to a text, but deciphering a hidden text within the text that is the source of the sought after meaning,
Interpretation should be taken as the act of psychoanalysis itself because we deal with texts that comprises the other textual meanings. Better, the psychoanalyst does not do anything that is not interpretational because the patients’ material in itself is interpretation of something else. Ricoeur concluded form his study of psychoanalysis that interpretation in analysis as one of two acts:  demystifying of illusions and restoration of meanings. In analysis, we are presented with the patient’s explanation and understanding of old or currents events within a transference relationship. We work through his material over and over (unsystematically) so both he and I would demystify the illusions piled up in the material over the years and in the guidance of the neurosis. What I got from Brenner’s direct and indirect writings about ‘working through’ is something akin to Ricoeur’s demystification of illusions; irrespective of the patient’s correctness or incorrectness of his conception of those events. Working through them will reveal to the patient which are actual memories or recollections of memories and which have been transformed into illusions. The tedious work of working through might include some interpretative contribution from the analyst but what is important is how they get better reorganization every time they are recounted in the nalysis. The illusionary nature of this material would gradually be demystified. Dealing with transference serves another function. Transference is regressing to a point in the patient’s development where he formulated a relationship or relationships with others. Interpreting transference phenomena restores the meaning of the original enacted relationships and reveal to the patient the meaning of the relationship with the analyst (or others whom he relate to in a similar way) in order to restore the distorted or repressed meaning.
In my time (long ago) and I believe till now to some extent, candidates are taught that interpretation is the act of connecting, relating, referring unconscious psychical entities to the system conscious. We were taught to listen and intuitively (sometimes methodically) note in the associations what could be leading to that unconscious. The unconscious was an   ontological entity that is of topographical present, has a force and pressure, and has a role in the psychoanalytic setting. The first time I was delighted to know that my unease with explaining interpretation that way has some merit was in my supervision with Clifford Scot [ He was a Kleinien veritable]. I was telling him about my patient who was very troubled that he was constantly watched by his dead mother in everything he says or does. Unexpectedly, Scott asked me to find out from my patient where would his mother be when she watches him doing what says he does. To cut it short, this condition was related to infantile masturbation. However, when I discussed the matter with Scott and did my own thinking too, I realised that I am not supposed to look for ‘an unconscious’ but discover if there is one in the first place, which should be the patient’s unconscious. He almost said to me you do not assume that there is unconsciousness until you find it. This was the difference between practicing psychoanalysis and using it. In 2011, I published a book entitled “The Clinical Application of the Theory of Psychoanalysis”. It was a mistaken  title because (I hope)in the four case histories as I see them today I believe I did not forget  what I learned from Clifford Scott in my practice.
As such, the act of interpretation in psychoanalysis takes a very different meaning from the common meaning or the implicit meaning we give it in psychoanalysis. Interpretation in psychoanalysis is to demonstrate to the patient the arbitrariness of the link between his signifiers and their signified. In a very crude way, we show the patient that his neurosis (signifier) is arbitrarily linked to infantile experiences and relationships (signified), therefore it is not possible to refer it to particular source. This means that psychoanalyzing him is not to discover what made him sick but how he became sick. This might sound strange if we neglect that the term interpretation does not belong the sphere of logic but to the sphere of semiotic ( see a paper we assume we all received from Semetsky few weeks ago about semiotics). A signifier has the potential to carry many meanings or signifieds (hang yourself for instance). But each signified could be a substitute for something else (get an erection, show me that your care, go to hell, etc.). Therefore, interpreting the combination of hang yourself and get an erection depends on what is called in semiotics “interpretents” i.e., Freud got the interprtentent from dream of the May-beetles.

B.    Reconstruction:
If interpretation is the act of psychoanalysis then the work of psychoanalysis is reconstruction (construction). Freud used the term construction (1937 b) to what we now call reconstruction. He said (261): “If, in accounts of analytic technique, so little is said about ‘construction’, that is because ‘interpretations’ and their effects are spoken of instead. But I think that ‘construction’ is far more appropriate description. ‘Interpretation’ applies to something that one does to come to single elements of the material, such as an association or parapraxis. But ‘construction’ when one lays before the subject of the analysis a piece of his early history that has been forgotten …”. Yet he also stipulated that the work of construction is the ongoing work of analysis that does not follow a systematic sequence or course(260). Thus, we interpret to reconstruct. But what and Why to reconstruct?
I underlined the point that interpretation brings out the dormant meaning in the link between a signified and its signifier. The meaning that the interpretation brings out becomes a signified on its own, which requires interpretation; and so on. In the example of the May-Beetles, the interpretation of ‘hang yourself’ was: get an erection. But get an erection (in this way) needs an interpretation, because it could mean ‘get lost if you don’t or prove to me that you love me, etc.. In an analysis that lasts for few years and for hundreds of sessions, interpretations and the links between interpretations require, but demand, reconstruction from time to time, simply because reconstruction brings in material from other interpretations that are of significance. Reconstruction is simply putting order in the disorder of the network of exchanged meanings over the course of the analysis. It is noticeable that in very long analyses the meaning of the analysis (the purpose, criterion, the sign of termination) gets lost. The reason is that the process of reconstruction should eventually replace the daily act of interpretation, because if that act is not checked it would never come to any reasonable end. Analysis would lose its purpose. As the competence of the analysts appears in his choice of the ‘interpretant’ in his choice of interpretation, it also shows in honing in on the main theme of reconstruction he uses at a certain moment.
When I was winding down my practice to retire and old patient asked me for a consultation regarding her aunt. The reason was that the lady was showing signs of anxiety and inability to persist to finish any task she starts. She was also neglecting herself and her material life.  Otherwise she was reasonably functional and taking care of herself and was not showing any alarming symptoms. She has seen a psychiatrist few times and he prescribed some mild antidepressant (“because she was not so depressed”). He also referred her to a neurologic who did not find anything neurological wrong with her. Her niece added to the picture that her aunt was negligent of herself and her place of living. They both requested that I continue seeing her as long as I can, and think about referring her to a colleague in the city when I stop seeing patients anymore. I accepted seeing the lady twice a week for the time being on the condition that if I see that she needs to continue with someone else they will follow my recommendation. The lady was pleasant, communicative, and was involved in the whole process of assessing her condition and my decision about seeing her. She was close to retirement from her job as professor in a college in the city
She started by giving me a good detailed account of her life. She had a pleasant childhood and reasonable mature parents of her and three other sisters. She had a good education. She had a regular steady marriage but without fireworks, or children. Her husband died ten years previously. She enjoyed her job which she was to retire from soon, and expressed some apprehension because that because the job was organizing her life and giving her somethings to keep her mind active with familiar things she almost do by “habit”. She averred that the sessions would (and started to) give her something new that organized her life. There were very few interpretations at that stage, because she was just exploring talking about herself which was very new to her, and I was also refraining from opening topics that I was not going to follow up on. However, there came a moment when I mentioned that she is telling about herself as if she was reporting on someone else. Her reactions were close to being surprised to see how distant she is from her feelings, and herself. To my surprise, she added that all the people she knew were like that. This would have been a very opportune moment to explore several areas in her history in a normal psychoanalysis but I refrained from starting something I would not be there to follow.
 What was subtle but clearly troublesome was the way ideas were most of the time unrelated to each other in her mind. There was some sort of ‘thought salad’ in her speech but she always became aware of that spontaneously and made great efforts to create connections-sometimes false- between the dissociated thoughts. I did not make any comment on that though I was a little concerned about early dementia but I decided to leave that to the next analysts to deal with (in my referral letter I recommended a thorough neuro psychological testing).
In one of the session, she was talking about her apartment. She said that it is a beautiful apartment overlooking the lake but it is so cluttered with useless and ugly old things that it is not pleasant anymore to live in. She continued describing it in some detail. I said that if I didn’t know that she were talking about ner apartment I would have thought she was talking about her mind. She gazed at me for a couple of minutes, shock her head, and said “I see”. I put my remarks to her in a more detailed way; sort of reconstructing few of my interpretations in one observation about how her manner of thinking reflects feature of her daily life. She listened attentively. At the end of the  session she said that she would like to tell me about somethings and  she feels embarrassed about. She started the next session- after few minutes of hesitation- to tell me about her sexual life. Briefly, as a child, she was always worried about her continuous sexual arousals and felt confused by them. She felt equally confused (literally) after masturbation. She said that she continued that way even after her marriage. From her description, she was experiencing mild dissociative episodes during those sexual excitements. Exploring this aspect with her more revealed that she had what could be described as  dissociative states or ‘ scramble ideas’ with no clear way to stop them.
I realised that her visits to me were changing faster than I expected, and the issue of sexuality must have more implications than the original reason for her referral. I worked out some partial reconstructions regarding her anxiety, confusion, lack of interest in finishing what she starts, her fear of having more time than what she could fill with activity in the context of what she told me about her sexual life. When I was reasonably assured by her responses to the constructions I suggested I referred her to my colleague. Both he and her stated a more stable analytic work.

As a summary of my opinion of reconstruction: reconstructions give interpretations their subjective identity; they become psychical products of the patient’s material and put them within his personal perspective. They also stimulate his mind to assimilate the many interpretations as the background of his insight. Most of all, reconstruction when done strictly as product of the patient’s association and not laced by some psychoanalytic conception they do the desired changes without attempts at keeping them as guiding rules for future problems. As a model to this technical mistake I quote a reconstruction of material from a clinical case I came across lately. The Analyst says: “To this point, our (!?)focus has been on the way in which sadomasochism manifested itself relationally and we (!?) used Fairbairn to help us understand the underlying endosomatic situation- namely….”.  The paper is not clear if this was the reconstruction given to the patient or only the construction the analyst had in her mind and would build from it the reconstruction that could be given to the patient. This not a construction in the psychoanalytic sense, it is an educational theoretical mumbling.
C. Conclusion:
Interpretation and reconstruction are the most confused concepts in the minds of the younger generation of psychoanalyst. The reason is the way training is being done. Training in the traditional institute system is founded on the idea of transmitting knowledge and experience from one generation to another. In psychoanalysis, the difference between experience and knowledge is none existent. So, candidates confuse knowing and practicing what they know. Better, the system gives the illusion that if you know what is relational theory or Kleinian theory then you can just practice it. You can learn the holy book of your choice as you like, but to be pious will not come to you from just what the Book ort the holy man has said. Psychoanalysis is too big, sophisticated, and advanced to be taught in our institutes.
We face irrational resistance to this blatant fact. I will try in the last part of this posting to address this resistance.