DIVISION REVIEW DIVISION A QUARTERLY PSYCHOANALYTIC FORUM
A QUARTERLY PSYCHOANALYTIC FORUM
ROSENFIELD | Of Zombies, Preppers, and Bastions
Insight or Relationship?
NASO | Madeira
VIVONA | Diamond & Christian
The Abyss of Madness
Finding Oneself in a Sentence
ARNOLD | Atwood
WILSON | Moss
MAX SCHUR LIPKOWITZ
SEIDEN | Stallings
HEGARTY | Not Passed Over in Silence
ZEAVIN | I kept thinking that I should make soup.
NO.8 SUMMER 2013
BOULANGER | Katrina Brain
HARRIS | “We Built This City on Rock and Roll”
NO.8 SUMMER 2013
FRIED | Reith, Lagerlof, Crick, Moller & Skale
“Nothing, My Lord”
LICHTENSTEIN | Webster
PROUT | Safran
R E M I N I S C E N C E S
“We Built This City on Rock and Roll” Three days after Hurricane Sandy arrived, devastating and enigmatic in New York City and its surroundings, my grandson Jake and I walk out onto a darkened street in Greenwich Village. We are determined to reconstitute the disrupted holiday of Halloween. He (7½) is dressed as a “zombie gangster,” decked out in gear we had purchased earlier in the month at the divinely creative monster costume store on Broadway and 10th Street. His face is ghoulishly grey and festooned with fake gore. He sports handcuffs, a zoot suit, a black fedora, and a strange set of chains around his legs and shoulders. We are carrying bags of candy to give out to people on the street, our inspiration to reverse the usual
CASTELLANO | Baitz
Adrienne HARRIS, Guest Editor
“trick or treat” regimen, and also sidestep the absence of working elevators, traffic lights, and welcoming households. The streets are dark and eerie, mostly empty. There is an occasional slow-moving car. Yet, it is pleasing to see that those few idling cars slow down; people roll down windows and shout “cool costume dude” as we walk the blocks around Washington Square spreading sugar and cheer to the slow-moving, scattered, and somewhat stunned-looking passersby on the street. I realize, as we are walking, that Jake is singing, quietly but insistently. I lean closer and hear: “We built this city on rock and roll.” Repeated, rhythmically and very sweetly, as we traverse the dark village
streets. I have a moment of addled ’70s reverie. I cannot initially remember the name of the band, wondering, for a moment, if it is about Detroit, another ruined city. Maybe it’s by Bob Segar. But no, it’s a song by Jefferson Starship and it is variously thought to be about San Francisco or NYC. We walk through the dark and quiet spaces. Branches are lying on the curb. There are families on a Greenwich Village street on their stoop. Kids are stopping for candy. It is normal. It is the new normal. Slowly all of us in NYC, including those reduced to radio and therefore without icons or imagery, apprehend that a series of huge walls of water swamped Chelsea galleries,
Official publication of Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the American Psychological Association
CONTENTS WEATHER 1
“We Built This City on Rock and Roll”
No K and Katrina Brain: Lessons Learned from the Therapists of New Orleans about Living and Working in a Devastated Community
CHAIR, PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE
Not Passed Over in Silence
Of Zombies, Preppers, and Bastions: Pirates on the Dark Sea of Disaster
Henry M. Seiden CONTRIBUTING EDITORS
I kept thinking that I should make soup. BOOK REVIEWS
Ronald C. Naso
Killing McVeigh: The Death Penalty and the Myth of Closure by Jody Lynee Madeira
Jeanine M. Vivona
The Second Century of Psychoanalysis: Evolving Perspectives on Therapeutic Action edited by Michael J. Diamond and Christopher Christian
Initiating Psychoanalysis: Perspectives edited by Bernard Reith, Sven Lagerlof, Penelope Crick, Mette Moller, and Elizabeth Skale
Ricardo Ainslie, Steven David Axelrod, Christina Biedermann, Chris Bonovitz, Steven Botticelli, Ghislaine Boulanger, Muriel Dimen, William Fried [REMINISCENCE], Patricia Gherovici, Peter Goldberg, Adrienne Harris, Elliott Jurist, Jane Kupersmidt, William MacGillivray, Paola Mieli, Donald Moss, Ronald Naso, Donna Orange, Robert Prince, Allan Schore, Henry M. Seiden [ON POETRY], Robert Stolorow, Nina Thomas, Usha Tummala, Jamieson Webster, Lynne Zeavin ASSOCIATE EDITORS
Loren Dent, Kerri Chladnicek PHOTOGRAPHY BY
Alix Pearlstein IMAGES EDITOR
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Man: Psychoanalysis and Masculinity by Donald Moss
The Life and Death of Psychoanalysis by Jamieson Webster
Tracy A. Prout
Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Therapies by Jeremy D. Safran
The Abyss of Madness by George E. Atwood
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Letters to the Editor and all Submission Inquiries email the Editor: email@example.com or send to Editor, Division/Review 80 University Place #5, New York, NY 10003
Max Schur: Freud’s Doctor and My Supervisor ON STAGE
Dana L. Castellano
Advertising: Please direct all inquiries regarding advertising, professional notices, and announcements to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities ON POETRY
Henry M. Seiden
When The Narrative Changes: A Poem by A. E. Stallings ADDRESS
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All of These Things Will Happen A Graduation Address for the Class of 2012 New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy
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About Unconscious in Translation
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photo: Jude Ornstein
“We Built This City on Rock and Roll” from page 1 crashed into apartment building basements, and rocked the city. Not even curling waves, but huge walls boiling and wrecking everything in their path. Water to 8th Avenue, water in pools by Battery Park, tunnels flooded, hospital patients rescued at Belleview as generators fail and fire threatens. I get an e-mail from a colleague worried about lab animals in peril at NYU research centers near the East River. Jake is carrying some wonderful bravado into this dark cold moment: “We built this city on rock and roll.” As so many have noticed, almost immediately after storm, surges, winds, and flash fires had passed through, the city and the lands around NYC were divided. Sometimes by region, sometimes by culture, but mostly by class and by the distancing experience of horror. It was party time uptown, it was eerie and dark and windswept downtown. Surging water had flooded the city and crept away
leaving shattered sensibilities and shaken foundations, psychic, economic, and architectural. Then slowly we opened our eyes to suburbs that look like Dresden after carpet bombing, neighborhoods that look like the Ninth Ward in New Orleans, crashed trees, crackling power lines. Sometimes I feel almost blessed that below 34th Street the TV and the Internet are darkened. I experience what has happened in the quietly assimilateable forms of radio and voice. We move into the circadian rhythms of 12 hours of darkness; I sleep easily. But, on the night after the storm, I do have a dream. Many people living uptown, chagrined, describe feeling the discomfort of survivor guilt. Young people party and other young people shudder at the thought of this. I say, by rote, when asked, it was inconvenient compared to what happened in Red Hook, or Staten Island. Or Coney Island or the Rockaways…the list lengthens. I see an older man shopping in the supermarket near my apartment. A friend greets him. How are your kids in Staten Island? A look 3
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crosses the older man’s face, a shudder. “I can’t think about it,” he said. The doormen at my daughter’s apartment come daily, sitting with radios and lanterns at the front desk. Taking care of us, but evacuated from flooded homes in the Rockaways or Queens. And to be sure, there are many sweet touches and extended links across those dark first days. A car pulls up to Union Square and a man jumps out with a generator and power strips and people line up to charge phones. NYU opens its doors and hundreds are sitting huddled together on floors and classrooms, linked in. But despite this genial enterprising mood in the Village, I am aware that Jake was very frightened on that Monday night as the storm swept toward us, saying suddenly and tearfully, “I am afraid of losing you.” We are about to go to bed in a spirit of camping and adventure with air mattresses pulled to the center of his living room. I think, what is he talking about, we are all here, it’s cozy, and the lanterns are lit. The next day he rallies and wants to join the doorman in a job to collect garbage from elderly shut-ins in the building. He pleases the home health aide who opens the door and hands him bags to carry six flights down. And Jake goes off with his mother to buy milk “and a treat” for the elderly shut-in, and climbs back up to deliver it. By the next day he is restored to normal 7-yearold mayhem, working the nerves of various adults, and then we are on to Halloween and the advent of the zombie gangster. Five days later, back in the light and the glow light of the Internet, I come to realize (pushed by several colleagues) that there is quite a complete silence on my analytic institute’s listserv. Normally loquacious analysts usually happy to share referrals, news of a good dry cleaner, and travel and entertainment info seem quite silent about where we are now living. I do some back-channel inquiries and from a senior colleague get an e-mail about a worry about the family dog, a cold household, and still no power. Ghislaine Boulanger, my colleague at postdoc, counsels me—back channel—to be careful and more patient. She speaks from the experiences she had working with mental health communities after Katrina. There was a long and difficult time before anyone was able to speak. I rely on Ghislaine’s counsel because, fortuitously, my CAPS group in Princeton the preceding weekend had been hard at work thinking about work in conditions of shared trauma, guided by and in response to our colleague Ted Reveley, who had weathered the storm, relocation, and the dark burden of that hurricane and its sequelae. It seemed uncanny that the weekend the hurricane circled and turned down the coastline, I am at this seminar meeting where we had been planning to discuss the experience of mental health workers in New Orleans in the years
after Katrina. In the short film we see, someone speaks of psychic equivalence, the moments when nightmare and reality seem and are in the same register. Our group listens to therapists describe the experience of shared trauma, the transformative effect on modes of practice that the conditions of dire horror in New Orleans clearly required. I arrive back in New York ready to be in conversations with patients, colleagues, communities. While I find relief in the connections with patients, the collective silence of community feels chilly and mysterious. I once had a dream So I packed up and split for the city I soon found out That my lonely life wasn’t so pretty (The Beach Boys) The relief of work. Phone sessions when I found a landline and, after ten days, my office, warm and settled. A colleague described the overwhelming relief of working, as she said. I was slipping out of my skin. Falling, not bursting. Falling. The anchor of the reliable stance and space, the necessary fiction that everything is right again. In several study groups where we are reading Bion, I finally find my own footing. We have been describing our experiences and our patients and I (divided always between the need to listen and the need to teach, the superego-ish requirement of duty and responsibility) start to talk about Bion’s particular (and I think wonderfully relational) way of talking about K. K—never mind the abstraction, Bion is amazingly relationally prescient. K—knowing is actually also feeling, thinking, apprehending, a mix of mood, emotion, cognition, but it only thrives, lives, with a listener, a witness, a metabolizer. And I think suddenly that in many spots, including my institute links/listservs, we are in the world of no K. Not minus K, which is a form of negation or reversal or hate-filled, but no K. We cannot think. Group mind has disappeared. I don’t doubt that K has been thriving in a variety of systems and subsystems for many of my colleagues. But not in our online community. And for some who are directly affected, this is overwhelming. One of my colleagues reports to a small group of us that she feels overwhelmed, frantic. Like Cassandra, raging and weeping and burdened by a truth that seems to be mostly unreceivable. And I have another series of thoughts about no K, and these link to the ubiquitous expressions of survivor guilt. For many of us, and I do include myself, the litany of explanation to any inquiries about the storm centered on good luck, inconvenience, all some species or variation of survivor guilt. Others really suffered. Not me. Again, guided by Bion, I think that this state is actually a defense connected
to the refusal to think. Guilt makes the trouble elsewhere. Convenient and, of course, radically untrue. It centers on a failure to know the other, the experience of a swamped and wrecked life, the talismans and precious objects swept away. Guilt is a barrier to identification, the absolute requisite of K. As we think of this in the context of climate change, we might wonder about our capacity as a set of groups or individuals to rise to the occasion of recognition. To really absorb the triviality of our omnipotence in regard to climate change and disasters that will, not might, recur, may be beyond us. It has certainly seemed beyond many groups and many individuals. Susan Bodnar and a very few others are writing about this (Bodnar, 2008). Rosemary Randall (2005, 2009) has written one of the few essays on the psychodynamics of the narratives around climate change. Through the all too familiar principles of splitting and projection, we have built a story about climate change that does involve loss, but the interwoven story about repair and change has loss quite excised. I have tended to see the response to the hurricane as involving a no K psychotic refusal to link. While the right wing practices a kind of minus K, replacing symbolization and narrative with hate-filled misprison, the progressive stance can also fail to be able to integrate and link loss and change. The collapse of thought in the face of unmetabolizable horror renders us unfit for politics. As I think about this, I come face to face with my own no K, first with a patient and then, I see, with Jake. My patient, Jean, comes back to see me as lights and power and elevators come back to downtown Manhattan. Worryingly, we all regard this onset of electricity as a species of magic. Jean arrives in great distress. She feels swamped, unboundaried, engulfed in hopelessness. Her language is full of water, waterlogged. No change, no departure from difficulties, she is as trapped as the myriad people, cars, objects, houses we are seeing jumbled and turned inside out on the TV. We both know a historical backdrop of this for her. A family fleeing Europe in the 1930s and the lesson taken is that one cannot get away. They win, you cannot get out. The lesson is: stasis forever. Water: Nazis, isn’t it clear? I agree, but I feel a familiar puzzle here. I ask a question, but I think it is mostly for me, not Jean. She and I have visited this question before. How is stasis the lesson from a family that with enormous agency and enterprise does actually leave Europe successfully and reassemble in America? “You don’t understand,” Jean tells me, grimly. Fear trumps everything. There is no escape: from water, from surges, from Nazis. The catastrophe is inescapable. Fear. Nothing else. 4
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I puzzle over this and, slowly (embarrassingly slowly), I think about my own irritable countertransference insistence on agency and competence. And I think of Jake’s fearful sentence, “I am afraid of losing you,” at a moment when the adults were planful, agentic, prepared. I think again about the eerie silence on the institute’s listserv. And, inevitably or inexorably, I think about the dream that I had the day after the storm. I was certainly aware of being very frightened in the run-up to the hurricane. And I was conscious that the fear of those days was triggering and reminiscent of the fear I had lived with in Barcelona when my husband died in a bicycle accident. I don’t very often dream about Bob, my husband, dead now 16 months. But he appears on that night, alive, returned but now dying of a terrible and agonizing cancer. I wake up and think that I have dreamed of the death I was afraid he would have several years before the death that actually occurred. And that the dream was triggered by the fear that dominated every second of the days after his accidental death, and these fears had resurfaced with Sandy’s arrival. Nachtraglichkeit. I think worriedly about how easily and unconsciously I evacuated those fears about losing Bob into Jake and how quietly I failed to understand his plaintive sentence: “I am afraid of losing you.” And I can see that I have similarly left my patient alone with her fear and that in the storm of Sandy and the 1930s storm in Europe, agency and omnipotence probably usually trumped fear and, perhaps always and inevitably, children had the complex, difficult job of carrying dread and hopelessness. And I think about how hard it is to protect children. Impossible really. Intergenerational transmission occurs under every conceivable radar. No K, I think, is one of the necessary elements in intergenerational transmission, an accompanying blankness during which many affects, fantasies, states of horror flow from parent to child. A week after the storm, the city is “restored” and the true horror of the surrounding neighborhoods begins to penetrate the defenses of various kinds. People struggle to feel and to act, to make communities perhaps fragile, perhaps potentially strong. I ask Jake about the song I had heard him sing. I sing the line: “We built this city on rock and roll.” He looks disdainful. “I wasn’t singing it. I just mentioned it.” Whatever. z REFERENCES Bodnar, S. (2008). Wasted and bombed: Clinical enactments of a changing relationship to the earth. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 18, 484–513. Randall, R. (2005). A new climate for psychotherapy? Psychotherapy and Politics International, 3(3), 165–179. Randall, R. (2009). Carbon conversations: six meetings about climate change and carbon reduction. Cambridge: Cambridge Carbon Footprint.
No K and Katrina Brain: Lessons Learned from the Therapists of New Orleans about Living and Working in a Devastated Community Ghislaine BOULANGER
Reading Adrienne Harris’s meditation on Sandy (in this issue of D/R), on helplessness, terror, and no K, reminded me of the first visit I made to New Orleans in October 2008, three years, a month, and a few days after Hurricane Katrina had devastated the region. I had been invited to develop a program for local mental health professionals who were still trying to make sense of the impact of the storm on themselves and their patients. Many of them were alarmed by the epidemic of senselessness that had swept into the city with the storm and continued to bedevil their lives and their practices.1 Most of the clinicians I met with in New Orleans had evacuated before Katrina. Two days later, they found themselves watching television helplessly as the city flooded and burned, uncertain whether they would ever return home. They were exposed to scenes of collective death and vast suffering, an apocalyptic vision in which many feared they were seeing the end of New Orleans and their lives as they knew them. On their return home, they were startled by the presence of armed militia, discouraged by how few neighbors 1. The project that took me to New Orleans was undertaken with the help of a grant from the FAR Fund. My gratitude to Shirlee Taylor, director of the FAR Fund, and Dr. Kathy Nathan of New Orleans, who recognized the need for an outside intervention to bring psychoanalytic understanding to the community and to “help create meaning out of what feels like chaos.”
had returned, and by the fact that many familiar venues—stores, places of worship, restaurants, homes, and professional offices—had been abandoned. “Katrina was a nightmare, but we still haven’t woken up,” one told me in 2008. Many found themselves in the state of psychic equivalence where fantasy and reality merge, outside and inside are no longer easily distinguished, and familiar boundaries become porous. Most disorienting of all was the ongoing experience of mindlessness, Bion’s no K. This state of mind, that is, of no mind, was so familiar to everyone in New Orleans that it even had a name: Katrina brain. The apocalyptic anxiety New Orleaneans had experienced had disrupted their ability to think clearly and flexibly, to use thoughts constructively, to imagine different outcomes to different situations, the kinds of thinking that clinicians depend on in their work to make meaning of experience. Short-term memory was elusive. When they fell into these memory gaps, people made mistakes performing even the most simple and familiar tasks. “Which way do I turn at this intersection?” “Which key opens this door?” Sentences trailed off into long pauses: “I can’t remember what I was saying.” Time and again, clinicians questioned their compromised cognitive processes, wondering how they could possibly make sense of their own and their patients’ dilemmas. Key 5
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words were no longer signifiers, providing, as the novelist Ross MacDonald has put it, a lead jacket between the radioactive experience itself and its spoken expression. Instead, words like “storm,” “water,” and “drown,” became momentarily and horrifyingly real, with the power to disrupt thinking and interrupt associations. One particularly talented analyst recalled the struggle: “It took a while to start thinking about Katrina in psychological terms. I couldn’t think about it. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it because I couldn’t do it.” I learned a great deal from the therapists in New Orleans about sharing community-wide destruction and surviving to tell the tale.2 Perhaps the most important lesson I learned, or relearned, is that telling the tale is crucial. In the course of eighteen months I interviewed over forty mental health professionals—analysts, psychodynamic therapists, cognitive behaviorists, medicating psychiatrists, and pastoral counselors. I asked each of them to describe their experience during the storm, how they first heard about it, where they went during the evacuation, the devastation they found when the evacuation order was lifted a month later, how things were going in their practices. I sat in a rather 2. For an in-depth account of the lessons learned, see Boulanger (2013).
dusty conference room in the otherwise gracious townhouse belonging to the New Orleans Birmingham Psychoanalytic Center, as one after another said, “It’s funny I’ve never been through my own experience in detail before.” Some had felt they didn’t deserve to do so because they had not suffered terrible losses; others had suffered such terrible losses that they had not felt able, until that moment, to describe them in detail for fear that they would be overwhelmed. As I listened to these thoughtful men and women making connections where there had been only loose ends, confirming associations that they had started to intuit, daring to name a particular horror that until that moment had not been allowed fully into consciousness, I felt momentarily overwhelmed by the task I had been set.3 But on the plane returning to New York, I was comforted to remember Willoughby’s brief summation of Bion’s work: “the product of the container-contained relation is meaning” (2001, p.917). If meaning could grow out of this series of personal and community interventions, the burden that I was experiencing containing individual stories was worth it. A graduate assistant and I reinterviewed the clinicians in 2011 in order to prepare a website describing our interventions and 3. For a series of firsthand accounts from area clinicians, see Boulanger, Floyd, Nathan, Poitevant, and Pool (2013).
giving a list of best practices for therapists in communities struck by disaster.4 Almost every one of the clinicians we contacted confirmed that speaking about the storm transformed the memory of the terror they had lived through, making it both more real and less immediate, enabling them to meet their patients with a different kind of confidence. The second lesson I learned is that the timing of my invitation to New Orleans was itself instructive and fortuitous. By the fall of 2008 downtown New Orleans was beginning to look normal. It was only then that many in the mental health community and their patients became aware of the emotional toll the storm had taken. They referred to this latent response to the storm as their “pioneer spirit,” meaning that they had to concentrate first on taking care of physical needs, rebuilding homes, finding new schools and new jobs, waiting for places of worship and stores to reopen before they registered Katrina’s long-term psychological impact. Had I been invited to New Orleans any sooner, my interventions might not have met with such a receptive audience.5 4. The website can be found at http://therapistspostdisaster.com. 5. Many mental health volunteers visited New Orleans in the first months and years after Katrina offering psychological first aid, workshops on trauma, and short-term interventions to bring immediate symptom relief to the population as a whole. The FAR Fund Project focused exclusively on mental health professionals and on the alienation and confusion they were experiencing in the aftermath of the storm.
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Comparisons between Sandy and Katrina are inevitable and impossible. When Sandy struck, my hosts at the New Orleans Birmingham Psychoanalytic Center immediately wanted to organize relief efforts for clinicians in the New York area. This is how I replied to their thoughtfulness: “In parts of lower Manhattan, in Staten Island, the Rockaways and other parts of Queens, some New Jersey coastal communities and some parts of Jersey along the Hudson there has been devastating loss of property; some communities will never be the same; some people died trapped in their homes when the storm surge took them by surprise. I have colleagues with family in some of these areas and they, of course, know firsthand what terrors people from New Orleans suffered. By and large our community of therapists was spared these kinds of catastrophic losses, but I have learned from all of you that now we have to be prepared for the long term.” z
REFERENCES Boulanger, G. (2013). Fearful symmetry: Shared trauma in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 23, 31–44. Boulanger, G., Floyd, L. M., Nathan, K. L., Poitevant, D. R., & Pool, E. (2013). Reports from the front: The effects of Hurricane Katrina on mental health professionals in New Orleans. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 23, 15–30. Willoughby, R. (2001). “The dungeon of thyself ”: The claustrum as pathological container. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 82, 917–993.
Not Passed Over in Silence I had planned to talk about “the ethics of the tracking shot,” my already misremembered version of a Jean-Luc Godard quote. Allan Resnais’s Hiroshima Mon Amour had been the assigned film for my undergraduate cinema studies class, and to connect the Resnais film with the Godard quote— actually, “tracking shots are a question of morality”—was the plan. And why such a plan? I think the hope was to inaugurate a dialogue about the ethics of catastrophe, of trauma; of how one finds an ethical position for the human subject against the ground of disaster. As I look at it now I already see my unconscious process collaborating with the serendipity of my syllabus spooling out together over the course of the semester. All in all, if this panned out, it was to be something of a brilliant recovery for my jangled self. Having taught the class many times over the years, there was a degree of autopilot involved. I could work, I told myself, if I had to, without notes, in fact without any of the paraphernalia of teaching—notes, computer, pens, laptop, pencils, thumb drive, back-up hard drive, books, book bag, roster, manila folders, binder clips, Xeroxes, reading glasses, or wrist watch. Such was to be the actuality for this class where I corralled Godard, as the interlocutor, with Resnais on trauma. On October 28, 2012, at around 8:11 pm, Hurricane Sandy’s surge had delivered in excess of four feet of water into my Jersey City ground-floor apartment. The foregoing list of all possible materials for teaching and pretty much any other practice in life was gone, floating away—or sinking down—in the Hudson River and the Morris Canal. I waded chest deep in water— and whatever else was in the water from explosively backed up sewer pipes—as I tried, over the course of about eight minutes (that is approximately how long it took the water to fill the room), to rescue stuff, before ultimately giving up and retreating upstairs. Godard, with his line on morality, was notoriously tossing a barbed and enigmatic provocation into a roundtable discussion with his fellow critics at Cahiers Du Cinema of Resnais’s film. As one reads the transcript, it is striking how his comment is not taken up by the others, how it draws to itself silence. He, later, has to reframe it, come at the issue from a different angle. His statement on morality lands flat. Yet it is the case that the tracking shot is crucial to the film. The camera travels, tracks, as the two protagonists struggle to remember, or forget, or, it seems, help each other to not know the difference between remembering and forgetting. The tracking shot traveling through the Peace Museum in Hiroshima
past the exhibits of the catastrophe of August 6 becomes the analog voice of the protagonists seeing everything, but pausing to say nothing. Does the “shot,” the way we frame or say something, have a moral value? The film is of course about trauma and its sequelae. It is about the traumas named in the title (Hiroshima and love) and the trauma of She, the young French actress visiting Hiroshima for an acting job, and her history of “collaboration,” falling in love with a young German soldier during the World War II occupation of her hometown of Nevers in France. Throughout the film She and He—the two main characters are not named, they are She and He—talk about what they remember, what they saw and what they did not see. The film, without ever explicitly enunciating such, hews a path toward a mimicry of the psychoanalytic dyad. The film names, or, better, illustrates the sequelae of trauma: that trauma rends holes in discourse. Trauma leaves the film’s protagonists wordless but seeking a relational context in which to speak. All in all the film does not allow much possibility for the “working through” of trauma. The film ends with She and He discovering, attributing really, actual names for one another. She names He “Hiroshima.” He names She “Nevers.” They become tokens, named for the sites of their respective traumas. For my students and I the connecting, relational tissue between us was failing: well, in truth more for me. Unexpectedly— this is now four or five weeks after the storm—I found myself screening Allan Resnais’s earlier film, the film that led him to be invited to make Hiroshima Mon Amour: Night and Fog. Night and Fog is Resnais’s documentary about the Nazi death camps. For the film, made in 1955, Resnais traveled to the derelict, but still standing, Auschwitz and Majdanek concentration camps. The film is composed of footage shot there by Resnais and his crew, and by archival footage and photographs of the camps from various other sources. The former footage is composed all but entirely of tracking shots traveling between rows of cell blocks, rows of bunks, rows of latrines, or rows of furnaces used to cremate bodies. The latter footage shows bodies bulldozed into mass graves, decapitated heads, gallows, rooms filled floor to ceiling with human hair; this footage shows what has become the full iconography of the horror of the genocide. As it transpired, this was an iconography with which my students were fully unfamiliar. Stunned silence followed the screening. 7
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Though Resnais may have kept his moral distance by tracking between abandoned barrack buildings, in screening the film for my class, without warning of its contents, Resnais’s ethics were occluded. The morality of the tracking shot is, I suppose, its nonhysterical, nonreactive distance. It, the camera, remains cool, calm, and collected when most would zoom out, pan away in horror, or, indeed, zoom in, pan closer in fascination. There is contained in this a conceit of documentary reportage. The French nouveau roman movement was contemporaneous to and highly influential upon both of Resnais’s films. Indeed, Marguerite Duras cowrote Hiroshima Mon Amour. In deleting character psychology, plot, and narrative development, both the nouveau roman and Resnais films seek to let the objects of the world tell their tale, present their evidence. Thus, the tracking shot through the corridors of Auschwitz can be said to reveal the objects of the world—the beds, the latrines, the gallows—without an authorial mark. It is as if the tracking shot were meant to render the absence of a voice, the nonpresence of a speaker. Things just are, it says, without saying. Thus, time is suspended in the tracking shot, it could potentially continue forever; it could just continue traveling down the corridor between the beds, around the museum at Hiroshima, with no pauses or distractions, no one to shout, “Cut!” In this sense the tracking shot could enact an endless repetition. The tracking shot is a developed, or contrived, part of speech—so to speak. In this context it is directed to sublate the effect of trauma, to make trauma sayable. It is ethical in part because it is nondirective. I, however, wanted to direct the look of my students. I think now that in my class I wanted my tale of trauma returned to and told, but I had not found or invented the necessary part of speech. Through my teaching I was assembling the cultural artifacts that would do this for me. To milk an awful metaphor, I had no editing plan; I was merely assembling the shots. There are two other important strands in my post-Sandy world I want to describe before trying to situate them all within the question of morality in the transference relationship. First, unable to get to my therapy office, I had to, like many other therapists in the days after Sandy, explain the situation to patients. In a process of selection of who got to know what that can only be ascribed to unconscious process, I let five patients know the whole story while allowing truncated and edited versions to pass from me to my other patients. Each of
the five in turn made concrete offers of assistance, including lending me money and offering to come to my home to help with cleanup and construction. All these patients were deeply moved by the recounting of what had happened and keenly concerned with my material and emotional state. For all of us, my recovery and the reconstruction of my home remains a topic touched upon every so often in the treatment. And then, there is the final strand in my response to the storm. In the days before the flood I had been working on an essay/review of the artist Kim Jones. The show I was reviewing was of Jones’s drawings and other flat work. However, Jones is also, and perhaps better known, as a performance artist. Jones has for many years been known through his perfor-
in 1976, his performance Rat-Piece concluded with Jones setting fire to a cage of live rats before an audience at the gallery of California State University in Los Angeles. Jones had served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam in 1968. He has reported in interviews that the burning of rats was a common act he witnessed in a military base camp overrun by vermin. Jones’s work, particularly the violent, traumatizing performances, has often been seen as a response to his own trauma as a soldier in a combat zone. Perhaps a month after the flood had passed through I was finally able to return to the much delayed review of Jones’s work. Prior to the flood my review had concentrated upon the drawings—the show I was nominally reviewing—but afterward I found
traumatizes the viewer. A sort of domino effect, you could argue. The same blank space of the unspeakable is ritually passed on. I am complicating matters, I know, by blurring edges between teachers, analysts, and performance artists. But there is, it seems, some persona, some subject emerging that straddles these various positions. To be sure, it is a subject confused and uncertain of what tense to speak in and to whom, a subject uncertain which voice to speak in or through; the authoritative teacher, the listening “voice” of the analyst, or the borrowed voice of the traumatized Marine. I want to try and think of this all— Jones’s performances, my writing about Jones’s performances when I was supposed to write about the drawings, my screening of Night and Fog for my students, my re-
mance persona, the Mudman. Beginning in 1976, Jones developed this character, who ambles through the public environment dressed in a costume of twigs, branches, and mud-soiled flora. In the 1980s Mudman could be seen trekking the streets of New York alongside shoppers at high-end fashion stores in SOHO. His appearance was as a “primitive” tribal figure, a shaman, a banshee of sorts, parading a vision of otherness amidst the quotidian meanderings of New Yorkers. In addition to this public, seemingly random walk, Jones gave gallery performances as the Mudman. Most notoriously
myself referencing more and more his earlier performance work, like Rat-Piece or Cut-Piece. In Cut-Piece Jones is naked save for a Mudman-ish head costume. For this performance Jones and his audience are “packed tightly into a small space” (Jones, 1981, p.118). He cuts himself 27 times with a razor blade. With pencils attached to the headdress and the flowing blood he begins to draw a self-portrait. He lies down and begins to whisper, “Get out of my room, get out, get out.” “Packed tightly into a small space” seems pretty important. The footlights separating performer from audience evaporate and retraumatizing the victim
vealing to patients what had happened to me—in terms of demands made within the analytic encounter. Simon Critchley, in writing of the asymmetry of intersubjective experience, has written of the demand from the other as forcing “a split in the ethical subject between itself and an exorbitant demand that it can never meet, the demand to be infinitely responsible” to the other (2007, p.40). Sandy, my trauma, foregrounded the ethical demand of responsibility made upon the relationship between myself and my patients. In the clinical setting, as regulated by description and naming, that is,
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by verbal exchange between two subjects, the demands’ exorbitance and infinity were ameliorated, even reciprocated. I have thought since October 28, and still think, it problematic that the demand grew to be reciprocal. I am not sure that this can or should be avoided (by me). Is, then, the transference itself an “exorbitant demand of infinite responsibility” placed upon both participants? Does the relational matrix ensure this to be the case or is there an enduring asymmetry? Like He and She in Hiroshima Mon Amour, after Sandy, I set up an exchange back and forth about who witnessed what and who did not see what. In a way, She and
He’s dialogue develops a pecking order of trauma, ranks it. Their dialogue seeks to conjugate the relationship between, let us say, world historical trauma (the bombing of Hiroshima) and personal trauma (the treatment of She in Nevers). At the close of the film, when She names He Hiroshima, the name is first spelled out syllable by syllable: “Hi-ro-shi-ma.” Newly learned, the word constitutes He as the token for the trauma of August 6. His name is, then, a novel expression conjured from the already known. So is it an impossible task to find language adequate to the event, or is some such expression hiding in plain sight? Well, of Rat-Piece, Kim Jones—who
was, after all, situating his personal experience of trauma within world historical trauma—recounts, “When they [the rats] were burning and screaming, I bent down and screamed with them. I don’t know whether it helped them or not. Probably, it didn’t mean anything to them, but it meant something to me. It was my way of connecting with them” (Jones, 1987, p.116). Without actual language, it might be noted, but also, not with silence. z REFERENCES Critchley, S. (2007). Infinitely demanding: Ethics of commitment, politics of resistance. London: Verso. Jones, K. (1987). Unwinding the Vietnam War: From war into peace. R. Williams (Ed.). Seattle: The Real Comet Press.
Of Zombies, Preppers, and Bastions: Pirates on the Dark Sea of Disaster Kim ROSENFIELD
The advancing into the dark sea corresponds to the pressing forward into the dark problem. The fusing of air and water, the blurring of above and below, might symbolize as with the Mothers (as Mephistopheles describes) that all times and all places fuse together with each other, that there is no boundary between “above” and “below,” and that hence Mephistopheles can say to the traveling Faust: “Descend then”—I could also say: climb! —Sabine Spielrein, “Destruction As Cause of Becoming” A week before Hurricane Sandy devastated East Coast suburbs, cities, and psyches, I was invited to participate in a group poetry reading for the 92nd Street Y Tribeca’s annual Doomsday Film Festival and Symposium, which promised an exploration of “our collective fascination with Doomsday.” The five participating poets were asked to prepare apocalyptically minded material and to have fun. The Y’s PR material promised—along with the requisite blood, gore, thrills, and chills—“Deserted Streets! Blood Red Skies! Total Social Breakdown!” It was going to be a great evening! So in the spirit of the event, I ordered my “Goodbye World Y” T-shirt to wear for my performance and, as a poet who mainly uses found source material as text, began researching doomsday survivalist literature and the mind-set of disaster preparedness. In a strangely odd turn, I learned that in 2011 the CDC published a “tonguein-cheek campaign” about surviving the zombie apocalypse, replete with a “Zombie Blog,” as a humorous way to teach emer-
gency preparedness (www.cdc.gov/phpr/ zombies.htm). Evidently, zombies are the new silent symbol of the “unfamiliar intruder” (Speilrein, 1995) who will shoulder our cast-off resistances, disgust, and anxieties. Fitting too that they eat brains, a graphically perverse take on what we might describe as “attacks on linking” (Bion, 1959). As I went deeper into my “research” I became fascinated by the convictions of survivalists and their all-in striving toward total self-sufficiency. There seemed to me both the recognition of governmental/societal systems failure, but also a single-minded, myopic focus on protecting self and family at all costs. I was also disturbed by the intensity of xenophobia, misogyny, racism, and the unfathomable stockpiling of weaponry for “self-defense.” I trolled preparedness blogs, watched episodes of Preppers, and ordered books with terrifying titles like The Long Emergency, Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century. All the while, I had to continually remind myself that I was a sophisticated, privileged, educated, psychologically and politically minded Manhattanite. In other words, I was separate from “them” and, therefore, in the strange and nonsensical psychological bastion of my own making, safe from harm because I was protected by my own mind and the protective powers of analysis and postmodern deconstruction. Yet Mother Nature isn’t making distinctions of race and class. There was no way to fully grasp the potential impact of Sandy on our geographic and psychological landscape, and on the landscape of collective “primitive disaster.” 9
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Bion describes primitive disaster as “catastrophe that remains at one and the same moment actively vital and yet incapable of resolution into quiescence” (1959, p. 4). In other words, the no K state was borne collectively in the East Coast and around the world via the impact of Hurricane Sandy. Our very own northeastern zombie apocalypse was upon us—bodies displaced, thoughts without thinkers, deadened, dissociated, split-off selves roaming darkened, depleted streets. Some of our internal zombies were guilty ones if we did not fare as badly as others, or even worse, were not affected at all. How do we collectively manage “primitive disaster”? How do we as a society modulate mounting anxiety over deep ecological peril? How do we, as an economically/ socially/racially/politically fragmented society think and act in the face of mounting evidence that we will not be able to stem the rising tide of massive global destruction in our lifetime? How do we think beyond our immediate fear, denial, anger, complacency, even in our activism, to prepare not only for our own survival (survivalist mind), but also, and more importantly, for the potential and deadening reality that we most likely will not be able to provide a better future for subsequent generations? My own thinking on these subjects gets mired, muddied, pulled off its axis, and generally floods out. I struggle against using my own Sandy story of being without electricity, water, heat, Internet, access to patients or office, etc., for days on end because it feels shameful. I did not lose my house or business, I did not lose a relative or friend. My neighbor’s words echo in my
head during Sandy as we navigated our repeatedly endless ritual of hauling water jugs up 16 darkened stairwells together one afternoon. She asked me how I was doing and I responded: “It’s been rough but we’re so much luckier than most.” She gently soothed me in her reply: “Kim, each experience counts.” But does it? I was not in a hospital ailing and needing to be evacuated. I was not watching my home, business, elderly parent, child, husband, treasured objects, etc., get washed out to sea. I am not awaiting FEMA money that will probably never be allocated to me. I was not in the flood zone. Except, regardless of the hierarchy of gravity of what happened to us during Sandy, we are all somehow, in some way,
mired in the flood zone—in an evacuative no K state Bion so deeply understood. We are at risk of becoming K zombies, not high on crystal bath salts, but zombies unable to think, act, or link to other human beings in the face of political, ecological, and societal peril. What happens to our ability to think and act when end of the world scenarios are becoming more and more ego-syntonic, no longer hilariously ironic Doomsday Festival renditions of something fantastical and far from possibility? Baranger and Baranger (2008) posit the idea of the bastion as a core belief that cannot be moved for fear of what might be lying in wait. If the bastion is removed, we open the trap door to our own “extreme
I kept thinking that I should make soup. My friend was arriving from California for a week in New York, a much-anticipated visit, and for her a much-needed week of rest and change of pace in New York City. She arrived Sunday, October 28—just after the announcement that the subway was being shut down and offices and schools were preemptively closing. A strange beginning to a week, a week whose strangeness would catch up to us slowly. Later we would refer to it as hurricane camp, as our time was arranged in neat segments, a walk in the morning, an effort to read, a walk in the afternoon, some thought about dinner. We spent long hours talking, and what we knew later was that each of us conducted the other’s anxiety, like a well-worn and good container. It was only later that the anxieties could be named and thought about fruitfully. The hurricane didn’t touch us except insofar as it dictated the range of our movement (traffic was terrible, we couldn’t drive) and our time (I couldn’t work, as my office was without power). Power became the metaphor—and more than a metaphor, it emblematized a link that had been broken for many people. Not the catastrophe of lost homes, lives, businesses, but a daily psychic link that was disrupted if not severed. The link and what is unleashed in its absence was to me the lesson of the hurricane. Patients came talking of having or losing power. The notion that one had not lost power seemed to provide reassurance against the utter helplessness and chaos that many felt. We take for granted what Ron Britton has called ontological security. The hurricane, with its torrential winds and walls of ruinous water charging into streets and buildings, blew through ontological
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REFERENCES Baranger, M., & Baranger, W. (2008). The analytic situation as a dynamic field. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 89, 795–826. Bion, W. R. (1959). Attacks on linking. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 40, 308–315. Speilrein, S. (1995). Destruction as cause of becoming. Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 18, 85–118.
security. Time was suddenly without character or markers. What would ordinarily be a welcome expanse of “free time” now became uncharted and impossible to enjoy. Only the most elemental movements were possible. Neither of us got dressed, except for yoga pants and running gear. Neither of us felt much like talking to anyone outside our private sphere of dog, cat, and household (a few children and a husband). So what happens when ontological security is threatened, when thinking becomes labored and confused? One’s relationship with objects internally is under siege. Unconscious fantasy is loosed. For one of my patients the hurricane symbolized a terror of madness, suddenly unleashed, something she always anticipates and always fears. In her regular life the madness is kept at bay through a combination of carefully tended relationships and her own insistence on order. There is, underneath, a sense that madness can strike and pull apart her primary objects, leaving her in a state of internal devastation and loss. In the wake of the hurricane she felt a terrible anxiety that underpinned each of her days. When we talked about it, it was clear that the hurricane had been infused with fantasy and exemplified the madness she so much fears. It rose from nothing and threatened both the external world and her internal world as well. For my patient, whose effort is always to repair her objects and keep them safe, this was a true calamity. She felt frozen, caught in something that felt strangely chaotic but difficult to productively think through. My patient described in stark terms what I think many people experienced: that the bearing down of “Mother” Nature 10
helplessness, vulnerability, and despair” (p.14). We become prey to our own potential for destabilization. But Hurricane Sandy has already weakened the bulwarks, brought the wolf to our front door, re-released the zombies from hiding, and repopulated the dark seas of disaster with our collective dissociation from traumatic events. How can we navigate when these dark waters grow too crowded? z
resonated with an internal world where there is a frightening and unpredictable object now on the move. This object seems to have no possibility of containment, as the link with the object now has been disrupted, unleashing something like thousands of beta elements in its place. (Beta elements are those bits of raw material, unmetabolized or uncontained accretions of stimuli, as yet without meaning.) What had been a vital link to thought, understanding, and knowledge—and to a sense of sanity within—is now temporarily felt to be damaged or destroyed. Bion believed that thinking is the most important human link, one that is always developed in the context of human interaction. Thinking is an emotional experience born of trying to know oneself or someone else, to comprehend their nature or the nature of oneself. Bion designates this fundamental type of thinking—thinking in the sense of trying to know—by the symbol K. –K (minus K) is a state where the capacity to think splits apart and the resulting state is one of confusion, inability to think, and a feeling of hopelessness about being understood or being able to understand something. My patient describes feeling that “something is unable to be known.” This “unable to be known” is both terrifying and maddening. It brings on a feeling of helplessness. Her helplessness is to my mind what many people meant when they were describing being “without power” in the wake of the hurricane. The psychic state of being without power for many seemed to be the absence of the power to feel meaningfully engaged with oneself and one’s object, the power to think and to know, and to be thought about and understood. z
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Killing McVeigh: The Death Penalty and the Myth of Closure Ronald C. NASO
Homo homini lupus: man is a wolf to man (Freud, 1930/1975, p.111). Freud thus recognized the ever-present potential for evil. He was especially attuned to the way aggression and narcissism undermine moral Killing McVeigh:The Death Penalty and the Myth of Closure By Jody Lynee Madeira New York, NY: NYU Press, 319 pp., $28.99, 2012 imperatives. Although aligned with Hobbes in his pessimism about man’s capacity for restraint in the absence of strong external controls, Freud regarded the real tragedy of human suffering caused by others to be that much of it is preventable. The unfortunate reality is that some individuals derive pleasure from causing others to suffer. Freud emphasized the neurotic factors in the response to trauma. Rather than a normative response to danger accompanied by regression, compromised ego functioning, and “obligatory psychopathology” (Krystal, 1988, p.145), trauma experience rested on pre-existing unconscious factors. Postwar psychoanalytic work on traumatic and post-traumatic stress disorders dramatically altered this perspective, as well as the therapist’s approach to working with survivors. In her excellent study Killing McVeigh: The Death Penalty and the Myth of Closure, Jody Lynee Madeira describes the plight of survivors and families of victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. It will be recalled that Timothy McVeigh and his accomplices, Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier, built and detonated a truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, murdering 168 people and injuring more than 800. Madeira interviewed 36 individuals following McVeigh’s 2001 execution, including 33 survivors or families of victims. Twenty-one of the original participants were interviewed again in 2009. Killing McVeigh is only indirectly a book about the psychology of perpetration. Instead, it speaks to the life-altering impact of terrorism and especially to victims’ efforts to cope and adapt in its aftermath. It documents survivors’ struggle to find meaning in a senseless and horrific act of violence. What emerges is a picture of grieving and adaptation that accords deeply with psychoanalytic thinking about trauma and our role as moral witnesses. For Madeira, the Oklahoma City bombing set a dialectical, narrative process into motion that did not end with McVeigh’s apprehension, trial, imprisonment, or execution. Her primary thesis is that making sense of trauma, integrating its meanings into the narrative of
an individual life, is a process that is never completely realized. More disturbingly, her study bears witness to the paradoxical but profound linkages that acts of terrorism establish between perpetrators and victims, bonds of malignant attachment troublingly mediated by our cultural institutions. Witnessing and the Myth of Closure Poland describes witnessing as understanding the patient “without doing anything about it” (2000, p.21). The analyst adopts an active stance that establishes an intersubjective space, one that at the same time diminishes dissociation, confusion, and alienation. The therapeutic relationship that ensues is not a transferential one insofar as it requires the analyst to “grasp and respect both the patient’s meanings and the meaningfulness of those meanings from a position of separated otherness” (Poland, 2000, p.21). It involves a form of listening that acknowledges the incommensurability of the patient’s experience (Stolorow, 1999) and endeavors to illuminate areas of unspeakable darkness that maintain a strong unconscious hold on victims. The intention is to restore the subjectivity of a subject that has been fractured, split off, and/or deleted by the forces of evil. One fails to do justice to this process by linking it to the analyst’s recognition, since few analysts have suffered the kinds of trauma necessary for true resonance (Boulanger, 2008). I use the word evil intentionally because I believe one must glimpse its reality as such, as an event that is impossible to imagine or put into words as it is brutally disclosed through acts of terrorism. Evil involves the deliberate commission of and direct responsibility for acts “so bad, so awful, so horrendous that no ordinary decent reasonable human being can conceive of doing such a thing” (Singer, 2004, p.196). The motives of evildoers are various and complex, including the self-deceived conviction that their actions are honorable and good. Because they judge actions to be evil if and only if inflicted on them or on people they care about (such as members of their group, cult, or organization or those who worship the same god), they feel free to inflict the most horrific harms on innocent nongroup members without concern (Singer, 2004, p.205). Understanding evil therefore requires evaluation of their motives and personalities in addition to the degree and quality of harm they inflict. The complex relationships among these motives complicate the possibilities for closure. Madeira argues convincingly 12
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that closure, as such, is a myth. McVeigh’s image was emblazoned in the minds of the public from the moment of his infamous “perp walk.” It was memorialized on television, creating an ineradicable presence in the minds of those he terrorized. Intended as a shaming ritual in which the state demeans perpetrators by shackling and putting them on display, McVeigh turned this ritual on its head. His stoic, overtly defiant gaze not only betokened a refusal to accept moral responsibility, but “heighten[ed] the horror and trauma of the act of which he stood accused and ma[de] him a toxic presence in family members’ and survivors’ lives” (p.7). One sees overt, demonstrable indicants of madness in perpetrators like Jared Lee Loughner, who murdered 6 individuals and wounded 14 others in Tucson, Arizona, or James Eagan Holmes, who killed 12 and injured 58 others in the horrific Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting. Both individuals were frankly psychotic; they struggled with mental illness and, in retrospect, showed clear signs of decompensation prior to perpetrating their heinous acts. This was not the case with Timothy McVeigh. From the time of his arrest until his execution, he appeared resolute, composed, and of sound mind. This view was shared by the majority of those closest to the investigation. Stan Mayer, a survivor who had been critically injured in the blast, commented, “I think you would prefer that someone who did something that hideous would be grotesque,…would look like a monster or an alien or something, but he didn’t” (p.152). However, according to Susan Urbach, another survivor, he “looked like a normal young guy, but with a buzz cut” (p.152). Disturbingly, McVeigh viewed himself as a soldier, a lone combatant on a military mission designed to avenge the government’s actions in Waco and Ruby Ridge. His lack of remorse was consistent with his view that he was engaged in a military action: “That’s the way I handle taking a human life…It’s like breaking the neck of a chicken” (p.203). As an act of war, anyone in the Murrah Building that day was fair game. Like Boulanger (2008), Madeira understands closure as “strategic, sense-making process” (p.xxiii). Never a consciously fashioned perspective or realization, it is the product of negotiation between “self and other, embodiment and disembodiment, agency and passivity, speech and silence” (p.xxiii). To heal, victims need to tell their stories; by providing coherence and inner cohesion, their narratives promote healing. Yet, closure never returns them to their pretrauma lives.
None moved on or forgave, unburdened by the legacy of the past. Rather, they moved on despite the past, pushing forward in large part because they felt morally obligated to do so. To be sure, the value and effectiveness of narratives for creating meaning rest on relationships to empathic others, to witnesses who accept that what has transpired cannot be known or shared in its brute reality. However, the commitment to seeing this process through to its conclusion or, better put, through its infinite iterations, links all of the participants—survivors and their families, first responders, the public, and cultural institutions—in a moral, ethical community. Judicial Fairness versus Trauma Recovery Madeira describes the long-standing conflict between defendants’ and victims’
rights, and how these tensions reached critical mass during the victims’ rights movement in the 1980s. In 1996, when the criminal trial proceedings began against McVeigh, a new precedent was in place allowing family members to deliver victim impact statements during the sentencing phase of the trial. Given the raw emotions surrounding McVeigh’s prosecution and the importance of avoiding bias, the judge removed the trial from Oklahoma City and denied permission for it to be televised. In perhaps his most controversial ruling, Judge Matsch ruled that survivors who wished to give impact statements could not also witness the proceedings—a time-honored standard in criminal justice designed to avoid bias. He warned jurors that emotions threatened to undermine the fairness of the proceedings:
[Y]ou have to set aside emotions like anger and sadness in deciding whether other evidence in the case connects up the accused person and the horrible event… You’re going to have to make a decision based on reasoning…free from the influence of passion, prejudice,…[and the] human emotions that testimony like this generates in us…Those images…are not the things for you to consider. We’re not here to seek revenge of Timothy McVeigh. (pp.136–137) Contrary to a psychoanalytic perspective, emotions are not regarded as relevant to moral judgment in criminal law and, in fact, are seen as sources of bias that threaten fairness. Ultimately, congressional intervention overturned each of these rulings,
irrevocably altering all future criminal proceedings. In a remarkable turn of events, not only did victims demand a greater voice in the trial, but they also received it. They needed the trial to work through their grief and anger, continuing the process of healing. Cumulatively, these changes made “therapeutic” work a legitimate aim of criminal prosecution. Prosecution now aimed to advance victims’ rights as well as to recognize, respect, and resolve their emotional needs (p.135). Madeira’s observations underscore the complexity of the changes that transpired with regard to victims’ rights. Nowhere was this complexity more apparent than in survivors’ views about McVeigh’s execution. From a legal perspective, survivors gained unparalleled access to the execution 13
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through newly fashioned “right-to-view” statues, which permitted in-person as well as closed-circuit televised witnessing. For some, participation facilitated the grieving process and brought the legal, institutional, and media processes to an end. However, many survivors were opposed to capital punishment and the thought of McVeigh’s execution only further complicated their mourning. At least some experienced disappointment, anger, or emptiness, essentially retraumatized by the taking of a life. For most, the execution did not exorcize McVeigh’s presence. It was but another communicative act, a “negotiated exchange of meaning that t[ook] place in a social context seething with factors that m[ight] facilitate or hinder human interaction” (p.231). Its impact in no small measure reflected each witness’s relative standing with respect to his or her own grief, as well as McVeigh’s refusal to acknowledge the state’s sovereign power over him. Beyond stoicism, his indifference symbolized his refusal to acknowledge the ethical dimension of his actions. In the absence of remorse, forgiveness languishes seemingly beyond reach. Conclusion Killing McVeigh confronts us with a kind of reality that few of us ever experience. What Madeira achieves is the re-creation of a reality that is at once known and unknown. She accomplishes this through the painstaking detailing of survivors’ narratives, making it more difficult for us to hold this knowledge at a distance where we remain safe, untouched by tragedy. Her work reminds us that we are never completely beyond the reach of terror and that, once traumatized, the wounds are deep and unremitting. Yet, she does not leave us without hope. Madeira’s detailed, first-person narratives of grief and adaptation also provide a very personal view of courage and resoluteness, situated in one of the most disturbing chapters of our collective history. She documents how 33 individuals and their families refused to remain victims. Driven by a sense of duty and justice rather than wishes for revenge, they confronted and tried to make sense of evil. z REFERENCES Boulanger, G. (2008). Witnesses to reality: Working psychodynamically with survivors of terror. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 18, 638–657. Freud, S. (1975). Civilization and its discontents. Standard edition (Vol. 21, pp.59–148). London: Hogarth Press. (Original work published 1930) Krystal, H. (1988). Integration and self-healing: Affect, trauma, alexithymia. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press. Poland, W. (2000). The analyst’s witnessing and otherness. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 48, 17–34. Singer, M. G. (2004). The concept of evil. Philosophy, 79, 185–214. Stolorow, R. D. (1999). The phenomenology of trauma and the absolutisms of everyday life. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 16, 464–468.
Insight or Relationship? New Thoughts on an Old Question Jeanine M. VIVONA
This edited volume brings together faculty of the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psychoanalytic Studies (LAISPS) to address an enduring question in psychoanalyThe Second Century of Psychoanalysis: Evolving Perspectives on Therapeutic Action Edited by Michael J. Diamond and Christopher Christian London: Karnac, 362 pp., $53.95, 2011 sis: what is mutative in psychoanalytic treatment? The book comprises 13 illuminating, previously unpublished papers offering a range of perspectives on the roles of insight and relationship experiences as therapeutic mechanisms. The quality of the chapters is uniformly high, and together they offer the reader an in-depth explication of many classic and contemporary views of therapeutic action. The book ends with an inspiring and moving interview of Hedda Bolgar by Michael Diamond. The authors, trained in the Freudian tradition and representing diverse outgrowths of their shared theoretical origin, present different ways of understanding the roles of insight and relationship experiences in therapeutic action. Refreshingly, none of the authors pits interpretation against relationship experiences in a straightforward way, thus eschewing an oversimplified notion that has thwarted past conversations about therapeutic action. Instead, the authors consider various ways of understanding the interrelationships of the therapeutic potential of verbal insight, achieved through interpretation, and of new relational experiences offered by the therapeutic relationship. The consideration of relationship factors is broad but not fully representative of contemporary psychoanalytic conceptualizations of mutative relational experiences. Specifically, whereas self psychology is well represented, Lacanian, intersubjective, and other relational perspectives are not. As some intersubjective and relational perspectives are grounded in hermeneutic epistemology, which rejects the idea of insight separate from the relationship within which knowledge of self and other is constructed (rather than discovered), the conversation about therapeutic mechanisms within those traditions begins with different assumptions than those in this book, and pursues different questions. Christian and Diamond’s opening chapter charts the history of psychoanalytic discussions of therapeutic action, and especially the heated debates that took place in the literature and in major conferences over the role of emotion and, increasingly, of relationship experiences. From the vantage point of
decades of personal observation, the late Leo Rangell (chapter 2) attributed the acrimonious debates and extreme positions as much to political forces and perceived territorial threats as to genuine theoretical disagreement. Like Hedda Bolgar, Rangell considered the evolving expansions to the cherished classical method not as threats but as innovations necessitated by the new contexts in which psychoanalysts work. Rangell welcomed many new ideas as natural outgrowths of classical theory that were needed given the expanding goals of psychoanalysis. In Rangell’s words, “psychoanalysis today is not the analysis of a symptom but of a life” (p.38). From this twice-told history, as well as from the chapters of this book, we see the ever-widening consideration of mutative relational processes in psychoanalysis. We no longer disagree about whether relationship factors are important, but about how they are important. The interrelatedness of insight and relationship is accepted by all yet conceptualized diversely. Some authors ascribe to relationship experiences a relatively minor, if still important, role. For example, Christopher Christian (chapter 5) presents Charles Brenner’s modern conflict theory and Stephen Portuges and Nancy Hollander (chapter 4) present Paul Gray’s close process technique. Both focus on the use of interpretation to reveal the workings of the patient’s mind, compromises in the former and resistances in the latter. In both theories, the patient’s speech offers clues to unconscious conflict, which the analyst addresses in words, particularly interpretation. In both approaches, the analyst’s task is as much to show the patient how her mind works as to show her what it contains. The therapeutic relationship is necessary, but its operation is assumed rather than elaborated. Christian indirectly challenges the notion that there is a therapeutic relationship separate from the transference and the patient’s experience of the way the analyst attempts to help by listening and interpreting. By contrast, Portuges and Hollander propose ways to “interpersonalize” and “socialize” Gray’s approach, identifying a need to take account of the reality of the patient’s social world and the relationship with the analyst. Despite important differences, both approaches emphasize verbal mechanisms more than relational ones. Other authors explore the bases of the analyst’s ability to articulate and interpret the meanings patients have communicated without the use of words. Here, too, relationship experiences are considered necessary, but the authors do not elaborate 14
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their therapeutic contributions. Focusing on disidentification with internalized parental objects as one basis of therapeutic action, Thomas Helscher (chapter 11) believes that unconscious object relationships appear in the countertransference due to the process of projective identification. Following Ogden, Helscher argues that the therapeutic goal of disidentification requires a “real relationship” with a more psychologically mature person, such as the analyst. The analyst’s task is to bring the unconscious identifications to the patient’s conscious awareness through the verbal processes of “registration, notation, and interpretation.” Beth Kalish (chapter 12) describes how the analyst comes to understand the patient’s unspoken experience through observing the patient’s bodily actions and movements as well as her own, and attending closely to their countertransferential reverberations, which she then articulates and interprets. She makes the important point that the common assumption that body movements necessarily reflect early, primitive, or preverbal states unnecessarily limits their clinical utility. A broader therapeutic role for relationship experiences, along with a fuller integration of relationship and insight, is envisioned by Linda Sobelman (chapter 7) and Peter Wolson (chapter 8). In her interesting chapter on patients’ curative fantasies, Sobelman explicates the inherent tensions involved in efforts to integrate conflict models, emphasizing insight, and relational models (represented here by Kohut’s self psychology), emphasizing relational therapeutic mechanisms. Indeed, the models have divergent theories of pathology and cure; they dictate opposing therapeutic stances toward the patient’s transference-based wishes, abstinence versus gratification, respectively. Yet Sobelman suggests that such difficulties can be overcome if we allow that mutative relationship experiences need not accord with the patient’s transference-based wishes. She implies that interpretation, like gratification, can provide a mutative relational experience; Christian makes a similar point in his chapter on Brenner, without acceding the need for gratification. Wolson extends this view in his thoughtful chapter on analytic love, that is, the mutual love of the analytic dyad, which he sees as the foundation of therapeutic action across psychoanalytic orientations. For Wolson, analytic love has two forms, “maternal” (e.g., empathy, sympathy, validation, recognition) and “paternal” (e.g., discipline, support for autonomy). He demonstrates that most explications of mutative relational
dynamics have considered only the maternal form of analytic love, epitomized by holding and attunement. In arguing that interpretation is an expression of paternal love, Wolson puts interpretation squarely within the relational field as a form of paternal relating, which draws on the nonverbal maternal ways of knowing and being with the patient. Wolson moves us toward a more nuanced understanding of the role of interpretation, and other spoken interventions, as grounded in the analytic relationship. Yet, in my view, the promise of this view is limited to
therapeutic action to “unconscious-to-unconscious” communication, which the analyst can receive through careful attention to the countertransference. Perhaps because she conceptualizes the process of maternal love as nonverbal, citing Winnicott’s mother-infant analogy, Porter does not theorize the conscious verbal contributors to her countertransferential understanding of the patient, neither the content and tone of the patient’s speech nor her own verbal reflection on the meaning of her countertransference. The role of language is downplayed.
empathic understanding, objectively stated in articulate and open language” (1975/1980, p.360–361, emphasis added). Although there may be other ways for the patient to know what is on the analyst’s mind, and some of these may be unconscious, we must not neglect speech, which we know to be the surest way for the analyst to reveal his thinking to the patient. We don’t know what the patient may see of the analyst’s mind, especially in psychoanalysis on the couch; we have a better sense, I think, of what she may hear. A risk that seems to accompany delving
some degree by Wolson’s retention of the verbal-nonverbal and paternal-maternal dichotomies, which may foreclose our thinking about their integrations. I think we see some of the consequences of retaining these dichotomies in the chapters by Peggy Porter (chapter 9) and Michael Diamond (chapter 10), in particular the assumption that maternal caretaking takes essentially nonverbal forms. Offering different elaborations of the maternal form of caretaking described by Wolson, both Porter and Diamond focus on the analyst’s subjective experience and ascribe therapeutic action primarily to unconscious and unspoken experiences of the therapeutic relationship. For Porter, the analyst’s countertransference is the essential guide for providing maternal caring. She moves the therapeutic action more fully into the arena of analyst-patient interaction, which she sees as involving “two interacting subjectivities.” Porter ascribes
Showing a similar assumption that relational processes are nonverbal and unconscious, Diamond elaborates the analyst’s “mind use” as both a way to know the patient, especially his unconscious dynamics, and, following Loewald, a mutative process when internalized by the patient. Specifically, the analyst’s mind use is therapeutic when the patient “sees” that the analyst is using mental effort on his behalf, is willing to be impacted by him, tolerates rather than disavows intense affect, and communicates intense emotional experiences in an attempt to be helpful. Diamond departs from Loewald in his assumption that the underlying therapeutic mechanism is nonverbal and unconscious. By contrast, Loewald believed that the mutative internalization occurred because of the way the analyst talks to the patient: “What seems to be of essential importance is insight or self-understanding as conveyed, as mediated by the analyst’s
deeply into the processes of the therapeutic relationship is that we lose sight of the therapeutic potentials of speech, not only interpretation, but all spoken aspects of the therapeutic interaction. This is likely a consequence of the contemporary tendency to conceptualize relationship experiences as nonverbal, a conceptualization that sometimes blinds us to the fact that the relationship between patient and analyst is conducted predominantly, although not entirely, through speech. Yet this loss of language is not an inevitable casualty of a growing focus on relational processes. In quite different ways, Morris Eagle (chapter 3) and Alan Spivak (chapter 6) give equal weight to insight and relationship. Of the book’s authors, Eagle offers the most elaborated view of the necessity of two types of entwined therapeutic mechanisms. For him, a mutative interpretation is a “relational event” (à la Stephen Mitchell) that facilitates
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both conscious, explicit, verbal self-knowledge and the corrective emotional experience (a term he uses without apology) of feeling understood. Eagle states that (but not how) the confluence of being understood in the words of the interpretation and feeling understood in the relationship to the analyst allows new revelations about the self to be integrated; insight so integrated leads to change. When we understand interpretation as a relational act, one of the things the analyst does in the relationship with the patient, segregation of the effects of interpretation and relationship, becomes problematized. By contrast, Eagle’s conceptualization of the mutative effects of relational experience maintains the segregation in that he considers such effects to be unconscious and unsymbolized. Specifically, Eagle suggests that corrective emotional experiences may act as “silent interpretations” that change the unconscious, implicit, nonverbal structures of relational knowledge. In this way, relational experiences yield their own kind of knowledge, one of particular interest in contemporary psychoanalysis and philosophy. Through interpretation, the analyst may bring this implicit relational knowledge into the symbolic domain. For me, this raises the question: can relational experiences foster conscious, explicit self-knowledge if they are not interpreted? I believe so if we do not insist on relegating unspoken relational experiences to an implicit, unsymbolized domain of knowledge. After all, silence connotes the absence of spoken words, not the absence of symbolic thought. Indeed, sometimes patients become aware of the meaning of relational experiences on their own, without the assistance of the analyst’s verbal interventions. Patients show us this process when they make remarks such as, “I expect you to be angry with me, but you don’t seem to feel that way”; “I didn’t think you would remember that, but you did.” Such statements clearly indicate that the patient has symbolized an aspect of the relationship experience; perhaps insight has occurred. I agree with Eagle that such revelations are more likely when supported by the analyst’s verbal interventions, which are often needed for the patient to differentiate present experience from transferential expectations. That said, we can think more comprehensively about the mutative effects of relational experiences when we allow that an experience can be symbolized verbally and registered consciously without ever being spoken aloud by either analyst or patient. Of the book’s authors, only Spivak fully and cogently elaborates the mutative effects of verbal interpretation. Like Eagle and Wolson, Spivak sites the interpretation within the relationship to the analyst, rather than outside it. From that starting point, and acknowledging diverse theoretical influences,
he explicates the essential role of interpretation in the process of structural change and psychic integration. Strikingly, he draws parallels to the mother-infant relationship, yet maintains the primacy of the analyst’s speech, and particularly interpretation, for conveying her emotional availability, demonstrating her immersion in the patient’s experience, and expressing her recognition of that experience. Spivak conceptualizes interpretation rather broadly (e.g., a question can be an interpretation), focusing not on its form but on its function of illuminating a truth about the patient’s experience that the patient experiences as “both explanatory and revelatory” (p.127). Not once does he use “nonverbal”; he does not identify what lies outside of language, but elaborates what lies within it, including the capacity to recognize and articulate the meaning of incongruities between the patient’s appearance or bodily movements and his words. Nothing, not even the patient’s unconscious experience of the holding environment, cannot be more deeply understood through the analyst’s interpretation. Spivak concludes, “Interpretive work is not merely the giving of insight, cognitive or emotional, but a very human experience of profoundly understanding another” (p.144). I could not agree more. If interpretation is a relational act, then interpretation and relationship experiences are inseparable therapeutic processes. Just as there is no interpretation apart from the relationship with the person who thinks and articulates the interpretation, there is no therapeutic relationship separate from the acts of talking and listening that are the primary modes of interaction of analyst and patient. The relationship occurs through and is constituted in spoken conversation. Freud (1926/1959) thought it important to point out that, unlike in most other intimate relationships, “Nothing takes place between them except that they talk to each other” (p.187). They don’t do lunch or get a drink. They don’t watch the game. They don’t have sex. They talk and listen. Talking and listening is what they are together to do. If we take this book as a reflection, albeit an incomplete one, of the evolution of psychoanalytic thinking about therapeutic action, then we must conclude that we are elaborating the relational therapeutic processes and not the verbal ones. To be sure, that the preponderance of attention here is on relational therapeutic processes is not anomalous. Rather, the conversation about verbal mechanisms is largely missing from our discourse at large, even from discussions, such as the many in this book, that take verbal mechanisms to be quite important in psychoanalytic treatment. How can a book on curative factors in psychoanalysis, with several authors maintaining a primary role for interpretation 16
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as well as other verbal mechanisms, give so little attention to language? Eagle provides an answer to this question. He shows that psychoanalysis, originally and in many but not all of its present forms, accepts the Enlightenment prizing of self-knowledge as its theory of therapeutic action. Insight cures because the truth will set you free; where id was, there ego shall be. Because language is how we know, according to Enlightenment thinking, its role in self-knowledge is definitional and therefore invisible. We see this, for example, in the chapters by Christian and Portuges and Hollander, where there is the assumption that bringing things into consciousness allows the patient to live a different kind of life, rather than an explication of how this might be so. Perhaps ironically, the Enlightenment reasoning obscures crucial questions about the therapeutic power of language, especially speech. On the other hand, increasing doubts about the mutative potential of insight partly reflect doubts about the ability to know, about the possibility of accessing any kind of truth. There is no reliable knowledge, let alone of a kind that can set one free. Indeed, some contemporary psychoanalysts influenced by postmodernism and hermeneutics reject the Enlightenment epistemology and therefore find the absence of explanation to be a problem, a lacuna in fact, that they have increasingly filled with elaborated and alluring explanations centered on mechanisms that are not centered around language. Eagle attempts to restore the centrality of self-knowledge in psychoanalysis by expanding the definition of knowledge to include its nonverbal, procedural forms, thought to contain our knowledge of unsymbolized relationship experiences. I would like to see us take a different approach: to develop a cogent explanation regarding the ways in which speech, talking, and the special kind of conversation that is the psychoanalytic relationship lead to the kinds of change we know happen as a result of psychoanalytic treatment. What is the nature of language and thought that allows this to be so? What is involved therapeutically in both the processes and the experiences of speaking, listening, hearing, and being heard? What about the therapeutic relationship sets the conditions for the mutative interpretation to be conceived, spoken, and received? We need explanations that are not tautologies. I believe the challenge of psychoanalysis in its second century is to develop a fuller understanding of “the talking cure” that takes account of an expanded understanding of language, in addition to an expanded understanding of relationship. z REFERENCES Freud, S. (1959). The question of lay analysis. Standard edition (Vol. 20, pp.179–258). London: Hogarth Press. (Original work published 1926) Loewald, H. W. (1980). Psychoanalysis as an art and the fantasy character of the psychoanalytic situation. In Papers on Psychoanalysis (pp.352–371). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. (Original work published 1975)
Initiating Psychoanalysis: Perspectives—A Review
Initiating Psychoanalysis is number 5 in the New Library of Psychoanalysis: Teaching Series under the general editorship of Dana Birksted-Breen. This Initiating Psychoanalysis: Perspective Edited by Bernard Reith, Sven Lagerlof, Penelope Crick, Mette Moller, and Elizabeth Skale East Sussex and New York Routledge, 384 pp., $45.95, 2012 particular volume was edited by Bernard Reith, Sven Lagerlof, Penelope Crick, Mette Moller, and Elizabeth Skale. The book is a collection of papers by authors from several countries in Europe and the United States assembled by the Working Party on Initiating Psychoanalysis of the European Psychoanalytic Federation. The Working Party currently consists of ten analysts who, together, have been studying the dynamics of first interviews since 2004. Their decision to publish papers that they had found especially useful in this study resulted in the present volume. The book is especially relevant to the widespread current concern about the decline of clinical psychoanalysis in our own country because it addresses the ways in which the first contact between a prospective patient and an analyst/consultant may
either facilitate or discourage the beginning of an analysis. Of particular interest is Part IV, the last section, titled “Daring or Reluctance to Start an Analysis.” The penultimate paper in this section and in the entire book, by Ehrlich, begins with the following assertion: At present in the United States we practice less analysis per analyst than ever before. The last full report (Brauer & Brauer, 1996) from a survey conducted by the Committee on Psychoanalytic Practice of the American Psychoanalytic Association presents the following findings: the number of patients in analysis per analyst has been steadily diminishing over the past twenty-five years, at a rate of roughly one percent a year. At the time of the last survey, certified or active members who had patients in analysis saw on average three analytic cases. The reported morale or level of satisfaction of those who practiced less analysis was low in comparison to that of those practicing more analysis. (p.330) Readers of this journal need not rely on data gathered sixteen years ago to know how little psychoanalysis is conducted by
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those who are trained to do so. The Summer 2012 edition of D/R published the results of the Division 39 Practice Survey, among which was the finding that the majority of patients treated by Division 39 members who responded are seen for one session per week, and only 1.3 patients of the mean case load of 18 patients are seen for three or more sessions per week. Although it may be objected that the frequency of sessions is not an adequate measure of whether a treatment may be considered psychoanalysis, I think there might be general agreement that the data support the inference of a diminution in the number of analyses being conducted by the practitioners who responded to this survey. The authors and editors of this compendium disagree with each other on many aspects of the approach to the consultation that may lead to an analysis, but the set of principles that they all do espouse are, first, that the initial contact must provide the patient with an experience of psychoanalysis; second, that this initial contact must be fundamentally different from the sort of session that would take place in the course of an analysis; third, that the consultant must participate actively; fourth, that powerful currents of
transference and countertransference will inevitably be provoked in the session and prove useful to its purposes; and fifth, that the once-prevalent concept of analyzability is a mistaken remnant of one-person psychology and, hence, that the consultation is essentially relational in character. That is, the process and outcome of the consultation are a function of how its two participants engage with each other. These principles may not appear especially revolutionary to analysts in this country who have either been trained in or come to accept, however critically, the innovations of the relational turn, but it must be kept in mind that the authors of this book are all International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) analysts. What is revolutionary, however, is their unanimous assertion that the radical reduction in the number of analyses conducted over the course of the last few decades is at least as attributable to the resistance of analysts to analyze, as manifested in their failure to perceive and validate the wish to be analyzed in people who consult them, as to other factors that are more often cited, such as logistics, finances, the expectation of a quick cure, insurance coverage, and other postmodern impediments.
On the day I started to write this review, an article appeared in the New York Times Magazine entitled “The Branding Cure, My So-Called Career As a Therapist,” by Lori Gottlieb (2012). It is a peculiarly ambivalent piece of writing by an erstwhile journalist who went to graduate school for the training she needed to become a clinician. To judge from her allusions to transference, the couch, and the ethical issues in accepting referrals from current patients, I would assume her predilection is for psychodynamic work. The piece is a fitting companion to the roundtable on the Division 39 Practice Survey (2012) that appeared in this journal immediately following the article presenting the results of the survey to which I referred above. Among the wise and pithy responses offered by the five discussants is one by Nancy McWilliams that may be of some solace to the journalist who became a psychotherapist: I agree with Bob [Prince] that there is something inherently outsider-like and even subversive about psychoanalysis. All the more reason that in an era in which promising psychology students are no longer being steered in our direction, we need to reach out and welcome those in the next generation who have a feel for the unconscious into the fellowship of the deliberately and even joyously marginal. (p.36)
Gottlieb describes her difficulties in obtaining referrals for psychotherapy, her discouragement, and her attempts to market her services by hiring a branding consultant who advised her to change her image, to present herself not as a psychoanalyst or even a psychotherapist but as a “life coach” offering “consulting services.” The branding consultant’s rationale was that life coaching services “appeal to ‘today’s consumer looking for quick solutions rather than long-term insight.’” She goes on to cite the chairwoman of the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University, who told her that graduate schools are now including marketing in their curricula. Another branding consultant suggested she sell tip sheets, workbooks, or other products that can be advertised on a website. Still other advisors suggested self-disclosure on social media and the use of instant messaging or texting so that patients who might otherwise forget things that the therapist said during the session will be able to read her comments again and again. I have gone to considerable lengths to describe the content of the Times article because it presents a graphic contrast to the thrust of Initiating Psychoanalysis, the authors of which stand squarely behind the proposition that many more people than we have ever suspected are motivated for psychoanalysis, would benefit from it, and would choose to engage in it were they introduced to it experientially by a practitioner who believes in its efficacy and is alert to her or his own resistances to suggesting it. In support of this position the editors offer Bion’s assertion that: When two personalities meet an emotional storm is created. If they make sufficient contact to be aware of each other, or even sufficient to be unaware of each other, an emotional state is produced by the conjunction of these two individuals, and the resulting disturbance is hardly likely to be regarded as necessarily an improvement on the state of affairs had they never met at all. But since they have met and since this emotional storm has occurred, the two parties to this storm may decide to “make the best of a bad job.” (Bion, 2011, p.321) They then proceed to suggest that: what the analyst seems to explore in such situations [initial consultations] is not so much the patient’s psychodynamic structure and “analysability,” as has often been thought in the past, but the ability of the analytic couple to “face” the “storm” instead of hiding away from it. (p.5) 18
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And finally, that: the analytic couple’s ability to face the “storm” may give the patient a sense that one doesn’t need to be quite so frightened of the unconscious: this may be the significant experience that makes the project of an analysis possible, as compared to other treatment methods that are more based on avoiding the “storm” or keeping it under control. (p.5)
The three passages I have just quoted are the essence of Initiating Psychoanalysis; the rest, as Hillel put it, is commentary. The rest of this review will consist of my comments on some of the commentary. Among the many useful attributes of this book is its tracing, by means of the editors’ selection of papers, something of the history of its central theme, that people who elicit a consultation must be given an experience of psychoanalysis as distinct from a description of it or a systematic assessment of the person’s suitability for it. Appropriately enough, the first case in point is one reported by Freud in Studies on Hysteria (Freud, 1893), his account of a single impromptu consultation with a girl named Katharina, who worked at an inn where he was a guest during his vacation. Following Freud’s narrative is a set of astute observations by the German analyst Hermann Argelander (1978) regarding the technique Freud used in conducting the consultation. He shows how Freud began the consultation using the sort of information-gathering interview in which the focus was on “the objective facts and circumstances of the case,” as guided by Freud’s implicit assumptions about their relevance to Katharina’s disorder. He next focused on the subjective meaning of these data as it was conveyed by her descriptions of the entire experience. His third focus was on the context of the consultation, including the transference-countertransference that arose between him and the “patient.” It is the third element that I found less developed in Freud’s account than Argelander did, although I sympathize with his reaching out to the master for support of his thesis. Many of the papers contain clinical examples intended to illustrate the process by which the consultation provides a psychoanalytic experience that somehow validates the wish/need that motivated the patient to seek the consultation. This material more often provides glimpses of the consultants’ thinking than verbatim accounts of the process. A 2001 paper by Danielle Quinodoz is a notable exception. Her patient, a man whose mother, going abroad to pursue her career, had entrusted his care to a loving aunt and uncle, initially declared that, though he wished to have analysis with
her, his professional obligations would render it impossible for him to see her several times per week. Hearing this, she at once felt profoundly sad and disappointed. She then wondered if this reaction was caused by the patient’s projecting into her his own childhood sadness on learning of his mother’s planned absence. She framed the following interpretation: “Your mother was very interested in looking after you when you were a child, but she was so involved with her profession and had so little time that it was impossible for her to find the time to come and look after you” (p.317). The patient seemed to recognize that this was something his mother might have thought
accept the patient into his or her own practice but must instead make a referral after the consultation is concluded. That is, how can he or she provide the essential experience of psychoanalysis without creating an expectation that he or she will then conduct the analysis? Several of the authors indicate that conveying this limit at the outset, as well as devoting constant attention and work to the inevitable separation at the end of the consultation, constitute safeguards against intolerable levels of disappointment. Others suggest that making a “good” referral is facilitated when the consultant is a member of a congenial analytic community. Bolognini (2006) writes:
from unknown or little-known people to entirely anonymous practitioners. Another pervasive theme of the book is that the fundamental goal of psychoanalysis is to overcome the stultifying effects of the repetition compulsion that these analysts appear to regard as the principal opposition to emotional growth. I am calling attention to it in part as an example of a concept that the Europeans find much more useful than we do in North America, and in part to underscore their tendency to retain and employ metapsychological ideas that have become unfashionable here. A 1982 article by the German analyst Josef Dantigraber offers a succinct and eloquent statement in support of this premise: But whatever definition of goals one follows, whether we speak of “emotional maturity” (Racker, 1988, p.24) or of a “new beginning,” they all have in common a central focus on the potential psychoanalysis has to bring about change. In short, the objective is to dismantle the repetition compulsion. The essential psychoanalytical moment above and beyond other forms of psychotherapy, is leading the patient out of an unfruitful vicious circle of symbiosis and not binding him through symbiotic satisfaction to the illusionary character of a false reality where dependency on the libidinal object is shifted onto a different object, thus hindering any development towards emancipation. (p.211)
or said. Quinodoz here infers that she gave the patient an experience of the sort of transference engagement he might have in an analysis, one that not only evoked the past, but also lent it a new shade of meaning. She concludes that this was what he needed in order to recognize his wish/need to explore and modify his inner world. As a result, he opted to enter psychoanalysis with her. The reader may ask, as I did, how the intervention described in this example differs in any substantial way from one that might occur in the course of an ongoing analysis. I’m afraid I am unable to answer this in any convincing way. It appears to me that the authors and editors of this book have a need, perhaps driven by theory, to establish this distinction, but in practice do not succeed in doing so with the requisite precision. I must add, however, that this failure detracts from the value of their contributions hardly at all. A related issue that many of the writers address is the necessary difficulty that obtains when the consultant is aware in advance that he or she will not be able to
Semi (1985), in the version of his paper published in the present volume, states that whoever works in a good group with collaborative colleagues he respects, has a clear idea about the real possibilities of treatment for a patient, and it is essential to be aware of these possibilities. Those who work in a group torn by internecine struggle or envy, will instead have a disturbed image of the field, and of what can be offered…the institutional context in which we are trained and continue to work is decisive for creating basic trust in the possibilities—precisely—of entrusting the patient to someone else after consultation, and for having adequate reciprocal knowledge that allows specific and targeted referrals of particular patients to particular colleagues. (p.158–159, emphasis in original) Contrast this idea with the frequent practice by our colleagues of posting a request for the referral of a particular patient on a professional listserv, to elicit recommendations 19
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A paper originally presented in 1984 by Evelyne Kestemberg but revised and updated for this volume explores the problematic of the repetition compulsion in the context of the initial consultation: The reader would, I imagine, agree that the repetitive aspects of mental functioning, per se, have not only a pleasurable element to them but also an impact on that functioning which could prove disastrous. I would therefore argue that the possibility of alleviating or loosening that repetition even for a short time, temporarily, during an interview is of interest in itself and may even represent a glimmer of hope. This is the hope that is present in every patient when he or she comes to the interview; our task is to use all the sensitivity and precision of which we are capable in order to try to grasp the potentiality for change encapsulated in that hope. (p.53) Thus, the consultation is regarded as a crisis in the life of the consulter that has created a unique opportunity to bring a counterforce to bear against the compulsion to repeat and its attendant pleasures. In addition, it is a moment in which lines of fault may be discerned in the peculiar integrity of the person’s
character. That such a situation calls for a singular kind of response from an especially prepared practitioner seems obvious.
I have already described some features of this preparedness, but here I should like to add a few thoughts drawing on the work of two of the contributors from the United States. First, I should like to cite a provocative paper by Arnold Rothstein, published originally in 1994 and again in the current book. He writes: I approach a consultation with an optimistic attitude that influences my capacity and success in helping prospective analysands begin and experience a fruitful analytic collaboration. This attitude is associated with three related hypotheses about the prospective analysand and and our anticipated analytic collaboration. First, in my opinion, psychoanalysis is the optimal treatment, the best form of psychotherapy for most adults. Second, my attitude about patients whom I see for the first time in a consultation, is that they are all potential analysands. I work to maintain that attitude throughout the consultation. I assume that their analyses will be successful. Third, I will accept another conclusion only after a prospective analysand proves to me that he/she is unanalyzable in a trial analysis, a trial that may last months to years. (p.282) The clear implication of Rothstein’s hypotheses is that the consultant/analyst must approach the initial interview with the firm belief that it will eventuate in an analysis and that the most likely impediment to this outcome is to be found in the consultant’s reservations, whether conscious and theoretical, driven by unconscious anxiety, or as is most likely, an amalgam of both. In a related paper, reprinted here, Ogden (p.176) asserts, “The initial faceto-face analytic meeting is viewed as the beginning of the analytic process and not merely as a preparation for it.” In addition, he proffers the notion that “[a]ll that the patient says (and does not say) in the initial meeting is understood as an unconscious warning to the analyst (and to the patient) concerning the reasons why the patient unconsciously feels that each of them would be well advised not to enter this doomed and dangerous relationship.” If Ogden’s observation about the inherent pessimism that the patient brings to the consultation is valid, it is a complement to the analyst/consultant’s unconscious resistances to initiating an analysis. Taking both into consideration, we can begin to understand why it is often difficult to opt
for analysis and why it is important that the consultant be prepared to deal with this formidable obstacle. Apropos this problem, Bernard Reith, one of the editors of this volume, writes in his introduction to the paper by the American analyst Lena Ehrlich that: [t]he psychoanalyst’s receptiveness to the strange and unsettling impact of unconscious life in others and in him/herself is so fundamental to the profession that no amount of personal analysis and professional training could nor should be expected to shelter him or her from it. If the analyst were to remain unaffected and never taken by surprise, he/she would no longer be an analyst. No wonder then that we can be reluctant every time we are called upon to do our job! It is our contention that these effects can be particularly strong in initial encounters with potential analysands, not just because the analyst senses that he or she may once again become involved in such a doubly impossible relationship, but also because the unconscious dynamics and their impact are especially powerful whenever an analyst and a patient meet for the first time. In contrast to what may happen later on in an established analytic setting, they are both unprepared for what may ensue between them. As a result, defensive reactions are equally strong on both sides. A potent and enigmatic transference and countertransference scene of wishes, expectations, fears and defenses is thus immediately set up, which can be very disturbing, sometimes so much so that the analyst can be impelled to repudiate it through denial, repression, and rationalization. (p.274–275)
The marshaled resistances in both members of the consultation are formidable and necessary, if not sufficient, to account for a significant portion of the variance noted in the diminishing incidence of recommendations for and, hence, the conduct of psychoanalyses. But they may be local instances of a more pervasive phenomenon to which Christian David, a French analyst, refers in a 1998 paper, reprinted in the current volume. He writes, The impressive upheavals of our fin de siecle are translated in the professional and intellectual sphere in which we as analysts find ourselves by a state of polymorphous anxiety. This leads to a questioning of the future of psychoanalysis and, more particularly, the future of the classical treatment, and even, in the longer term, of the various treatments which are inspired by it. (p.298) 20
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[T]he point, first of all, is not to lose sight of the internal temptation that each of us has to collude—often in a very roundabout way—with a massive repression of the most distinctive and assured aspects of the Freudian discovery. (p.299) Whether or not David is familiar with a work by Russell Jacoby titled The Repression of Psychoanalysis (1983), his positing a pervasive tendency in the community of psychoanalysts to subvert the fundamental tenets regarding the dynamic unconscious and its operations in the clinical sphere through transference and countertransference is entirely consistent with the theme of that provocative book. Another possible source of the consultant’s disinclination to propose analysis that is not examined in this book is the influence of the consultant’s own analysis, most often a training analysis. I think it entirely possible that the outcomes of many training analyses are inconclusive and leave the candidate with a residue of doubt about the efficacy and value of the process. Other training analyses may be conducted by practitioners who have themselves compromised the analytic process over the course of time. As a whole, Initiating Psychoanalysis is a worthy read. The papers chosen by the editors are of generally if not uniformly high quality, and their interchapter commentary creates continuity and frequently contains original thought. Some of the language used in translating the papers not originally written in English is obscure and stilted, but this can be overcome with patience. As I have said, the book’s primary value is in its focusing attention on the infrequency with which psychoanalysis is offered to patients and, therefore, how little it is practiced. Readers may refute these assertions by objecting that what the authors regard as psychoanalysis is the outmoded classical model and, therefore, that psychoanalysis is indeed recommended and practiced, but in a new and updated version. If this were the case, then the entire argument would devolve from a question of kind to one of degree. This is familiar territory for Division 39 members. Many of us are able to recall the debates about numbers, analysis vs. therapy, and Section I vs. Section V that were rampant in our forums until a few short years ago. I do not believe this book addresses an issue that was finally beaten to death. I think its thesis is cogent and of vital concern for the future of our work. z REFERENCES Bion, W. R. (2011). Clinical seminars and other works. London: Karnac Books Ltd. Gottlieb, L. (2012, November 23). The branding cure, my so-called career as a therapist. New York Times Magazine. McWilliams, N. (2012). Division 39 practice survey: A roundtable. DIVISION/Review, no. 5 (Summer), 28–37.
The Abyss of Madness
position of being both a defining figure in the field of contemporary psychoanalysis and a professor at a major university. In the former role, Atwood is known as a cofounder of the intersubjective school of psychoanalysis and an authority on the phenomenology of psychotic states. In the latter role, which ended in spring of 2012 when Atwood retired from teaching, Atwood was known as an inspiring speaker who gave students in his packed classes their first taste of contemporary psycho-
publications, The Abyss of Madness is unique in its accessibility and tone. Like his lectures, Atwood’s book is part clinical essay, part literary memoir. Atwood intersperses dramatic clinical vignettes with engaging stories of his life as a clinician and his relationships with friends and mentors. Some of the most arresting tales are about Atwood’s own life. In a chapter entitled “What Is a Ghost?” Atwood proposes that ghosts psychologically consist of potential lives that were not lived but continue to influence one’s actual life. Atwood identifies the ghosts from his own history. There is a ghost cosmologist Atwood, he writes, as well as a ghost Atwood who is a radical anarchist, and another ghost Atwood who is a psychiatrist who devoted his life purely to clinical work with the most difficult patients. These
analytic thought. Atwood’s talks interwove moving personal disclosures and dramatic case presentations with erudite commentaries on the philosophical basis and history of psychoanalysis. Lectures with provocative titles like “Is 20th-Century Psychology in the Grip of a Madman?” and “Shattered Worlds/ Psychotic States” drew crowds. Until recently, Atwood’s lectures were available only to those of us fortunate enough to have attended his university classes. However, with the publication of Atwood’s recent book The Abyss of Madness, this is no longer the case. The Abyss of Madness explores the subjective experiences of extreme psychological states such as psychosis, trauma, and dissociation, drawing richly from material in Atwood’s lectures. Although Atwood has presented some of his views in previous
three ghosts benevolently haunt Atwood’s writing. Readers can discern the cosmologist in Atwood’s interest in exploring the outer reaches of human experience. The radical anarchist Atwood makes his presence felt in his revolutionary challenges to entrenched authorities in the field. Finally, the ghost of the devoted psychiatrist emerges in Atwood’s fifty years of work with the most troubled patients. The collaborative work of Atwood’s three ghosts has established Atwood as a kind of anarchist astronaut of psychic suffering. Atwood’s ghosts provide the matrix for a scintillating creativity, which, although operative in Atwood’s prior books, sparkles most luminously in The Abyss of Madness. The bulk of The Abyss of Madness takes up several forms of severe psychopathology from Atwood’s phenomenological
Throughout the United States are hundreds of therapists who count themselves lucky to have studied with George Atwood. For over forty years, Atwood held the rare The Abyss of Madness By George E. Atwood New York, NY: Routledge, 224 pp., $40.95, 2012
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orientation. Atwood has no use for quantitative research or abstract theorizing. He draws largely on his own clinical cases, and also on psychobiographical insights into historical figures such as Rilke and Kierkegaard. A recurrent theme in Atwood’s case vignettes is the illumination of symptoms that are initially inscrutable but whose meaning is revealed when the therapist enters the patient’s frame of reference. In the German human science tradition, this method is termed Verstehen or participatory understanding, in contrast to the Erklarhen or objective explanations of the natural sciences. You know something best when you get inside it. When Atwood gets inside madness, he encounters what he terms “the abyss”: a fall into the annihilation of self. In one case, a hospitalized young woman diagnosed with schizophrenia informs Atwood that there is a cavern beneath the hospital filled with assassins who murder patients during the night. She demands to know if he believes her. Atwood is torn, as he does not want to lie to his patient, but also does not want to invalidate her by making his disbelief known. After a period of soul searching, he conjectures that his patient’s cavern delusion was a symbol of the invalidating aspects of mainstream mental health treatment. Although mainstream mental health care portrays itself as a benign endeavor, Atwood argues, it has a dark side of invalidation. Atwood decides that his patient’s delusion concretely symbolizes her experience of feeling destroyed by being repeatedly labeled as schizophrenic. At his next meeting with his patient, he tells her that he did not understand what she had been telling him before, but now absolutely agrees that she was speaking the truth. “Death is everywhere at this hospital,” Atwood elaborates, “and at every hospital in the country” (p.63). After he presented this validating affirmation to his patient, her delusion of the cavern vanished and never returned. The Abyss of Madness is filled with anecdotes of similar therapeutic breakthroughs. Atwood uses these to illustrate how a therapist can learn to understand enigmatic clinical phenomena by decentering from his or her normal frame of reference and taking a perspective from within the patient’s world of experience. For example, when one of Atwood’s patients displays persecutory delusions of annihilating rays emanating from the eyes of others, Atwood discovers that she feels destroyed by the invalidating perceptions others have of her. A male patient who is certain that he will kill himself before he reaches age 30 is found to have been psychologically killed by the overbearing ambitions his father had for his life. A woman preoccupied with suicide
clings to her suicidal thoughts as a way of remaining loyal to the truth that her life had gone terribly wrong. In most of these cases, a symptom initially appears as a dark and unbendable piece of pathology. But through what Atwood calls “soft” listening to the subjective meanings of the patient’s experience, Atwood allows the patient’s material to flow over him “like a waterfall” and eventually, its intelligibility emerges. The imagery of standing under a waterfall seems to be central to Atwood’s approach to listening, conveying his open yet grounded stance as a therapist. He lets himself get soaked to the bone by the flow of the patient’s experience, without being swept away. In my own efforts to incorporate aspects of Atwood’s approach into my clinical work, the results have been instructive but uneven. On the one hand, I can think of cases in which Atwoodian validation of the patient’s subjective perceptions was crucial in building a therapeutic relationship in the context of extreme symptoms. For example, for several years I worked with an
out different possibilities with him, I learned that he was preoccupied with a complex series of symbolic tests that he felt he was being given by the spirit world. In each test, he had to decode the cryptic meaning of apparently random phenomena to unlock higher levels of spiritual development. After we had worked together for some time, my patient placed a sheet of paper on my desk and drew two lines, each line following a distinctively contoured path. The two lines ended at points adjoining one another. My patient said that the lines represented his and my respective paths of spiritual development, and that although we each had followed distinct paths in our lives, we met together in “a place of peace.” At that moment, I felt certain that my Atwoodian work with him had been well worth it. On the other hand, often my attention to the subjective meanings of psychotic experiences does not occasion any discernible change or add anything worthwhile to the treatment. There are scores of troubled patients who evince little desire to be understood
who killed themselves. One senses that Atwood has a knack for getting close to people who are teetering on the edge. During Atwood’s college years, he writes, he was an alienated Jungian trying to survive a behavioristic psychology department. He found some support in a gentle professor, “Dr. C,” who enlisted Atwood in his research in mathematical learning theory. Atwood was delighted when Dr. C confessed that he was a closet Jungian. Every evening, Dr. C disclosed, he lit a small candle and read Jung’s arcane works by its light. After Atwood graduated, he was shocked to receive a letter reporting that Dr. C was dead. It seems that Dr. C had fallen in love with a student, who rejected his advances. Dr. C fled into the Arizona desert and immolated himself. He left a suicide note to the student that exclaimed: “I can’t have you in this life, but I will have you in the next!” Soon after, another professor who had participated in Dr. C and Atwood’s research shot himself in the head. Atwood’s best friend in graduate school, a chronic procrastinator who could not complete his dissertation, began hearing
isolated man diagnosed with schizophrenia who for quite a while was nearly incomprehensible. Although colleagues discouraged me from working with a patient who they saw as a hopeless case, I remembered Atwood’s work and decided I should give it a try. After listening to my patient carefully for many months, trying to imagine what he was going through and checking
and are unwilling to attend regular therapy visits. They want to stop hearing voices and be left alone, and that seems to be that. Thinking of these patients, I found myself wanting to read more about cases in which Atwood found that his usual approach did not fit or was not effective. A remarkable chapter on suicide includes tales of several of Atwood’s friends
voices and shot himself to death with a rifle. Atwood’s exposure to the deaths of so many who were close to him has provided him with a painful tutelage in personal annihilation. Like the phantoms of Atwood’s possible lives, the shadows of absent friends and loved ones inhabit his work, ghostly muses whose haunting inspiration breathes uncanny life into his writing. z
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Finding Oneself in a Sentence: Donald Moss and Psychoanalytic Sincerity Mitchell WILSON
One does not simply “read” Donald Moss; one encounters him or, better, is confronted by him. I cannot think of another contemporary psychoanalytic writer Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Man: Psychoanalysis and Masculinity By Donald Moss London: Routledge, 176pp., $40.95, 2012 about whom this can be said. Moss’s thinking is unusual, his voice immediately arresting, and his ethical commitments always a cause for self-questioning. This encounter, or confrontation, is, for the reader, a moment of some emotional seriousness. Moss tackles topics that involve human suffering, alienation, and the ongoing perpetration of divisional practices including, most importantly, the origins, forms, and effects of
hatred. While sometimes funny in a backhanded manner, and occasionally upendingly ironic, Moss tackles these issues with a crystalline intellectual rigor, the sustenance of which is drawn from his capacious empathy for the alienated, persecuted other. Even at his most intellectually rigorous, the seemingly arid Moss is in fact driven to think by extreme emotional disquiet. I first encountered Moss when I was a psychoanalytic candidate, in a class on psychoanalytic technique. The paper was “Pseudo-quotes in Psychoanalytic Interventions,” published in 1986. A pseudo-quote is when the analyst, in a putative act of the imagination, speaks both for and to the patient in the patient’s “voice,” as if finishing the patient’s thought, or giving expression to what might seem to be, for the patient, otherwise inexpressible. Moss had been doing research, with Hartvig Dahl, on the linguistic details of analyst-patient interactions within a clinical hour. Though this paper is early in Moss’s career, the reader is confronted with many of the intellectual preoccupations and inimitable stylistic tendencies that mark his later work.
This is what we notice: Moss orients himself within the topography of a sentence, specifically its pronouns. When in search of the subject or himself, Moss looks there. The location of a subject in a
that both blur structural differences between self and other and justify such blurring with cant. Another early Moss paper, “Thoughts on Two Seminars of Jacques Lacan, with a Focus on Their Difficulty” (1990), again lays stress on the ethical call of complexity, in this case in psychoanalytic discourse. Moss is skeptical of “transpositional guides” to difficult texts; the instance under consideration is Lacan’s first two seminars (which, in the totality of Lacan’s oeuvre, are relatively straightforward). He singles out Lacan and Language: A Reader’s Guide to Écrits (Muller & Richardson, 1982), an early attempt in English to “make sense” of Lacan for an American audience. Though admiring of the effort, in the end Moss lowers the boom:
sentence is his central methodological preoccupation. Second, we notice Moss’s sentences themselves. They are crisp, sharp, incisive. They cut. Finally, this stylistic incision houses withinw it an intensely ethical sensibility. Here is Moss again from the same paper, as he reports how analysts who use the pseudo-quote rationally explain the intervention:
Central to the transpositional strategy is the assumption that style is separable from idea. To be sure, the transpositional strategy…implies that the texts are at least to be read. But, they are to be read, in order to be read through. A familiar meaning, cast in familiar form, is to be found beneath the surface of an unfamiliar, masking, language. (1990, p.705)
Invariably, the user speaks of his effort as an attempt at empathy, understanding, bridging a gap. After all, he says, there are cumbersome moments; the pseudo-quote smooths the way past such moments. It is, so the common explanation goes, merely a way of being kind, staying connected, getting in tune. (1986, p.26)
Here Moss stakes his claim on an ethical project of reading: he will not, if he can help it, wrest meaning from style. Instead, he will respect style in order to, we might say, feel the difficulty of meaning. Difficulty is a “necessity,” Moss tells us. Words must “sting.” By the way, the rest of Moss’s paper on Lacan is a tour de force of intellectual historiography and the application of contemporary textual strategies as seen through the lens of George Steiner’s classic essay “On Difficulty.” These features of the early Moss—the sentence as site (slippery though it may be) of self, and style as locale of ethical sensibility—are also central features of the contemporary Moss. We experienced them in
Here is Moss in “Pseudo-quotes”: A pseudo-quote is, of course, another kind of pronomial maneuver. It is limited to the axis of first and second person, self and other, “I” and “you.” At the moment of its use, then, it would be marking a particular position, a momentarily constructed relation between the speaker and the other. With a pseudo-quote, the speaker seems to momentarily fix the other in place, hold him still so as to be able to speak to him. (1986, p.25)
If the analyst has a desire to stay connected, or “get in tune,” then things are already out of tune or at risk of being so. Moss senses an inherent disharmony in human relations, a constitutive difficulty from which he does not shy away. What we have here is an ethical voice that is compelled to call bullshit on maneuvers 23
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his earlier book, Hating in the First Person Plural (2003), in which he examined racism, misogyny, and homophobia, among other topics, from a Freudian perspective by way of a grammarian method: “I want” (the object) is defensively transformed into “we hate” (the object). One’s fear of desire for the forbidden object is obscured, as the object is disidentified with in a defensive appeal to plurality. Importantly, Moss demonstrates that hating is based on a fantasy of transparency (the hated object is obviously like this) and the lure of immediate perception (I can see that the object is like this). Psychoanalysis, in contradistinction, is based on piecemeal construction, marked by false starts and shadowy aspects, and enlivened by the subject’s capacity to identify with the forbidden and feared object. In his Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Man, Moss again asks large questions: Where am I in this world of sexed (fe)male human beings? Where am I located? What are my affiliations? What am I, and the affiliated “we,” afraid of? Compared with his early papers (though entirely in the spirit of his first book), the ethical imperative
and confidence. Not-thinking is also a feature of conventional readings of sexuality: straight, manly, and masculinity. Not-thinking is static; the not-thinker resists movement. Moss links not-thinking with Freud’s description of the primary process:
has grown as the grammarian method has taken on an uneasy complexity. As I have already suggested, this method is a kind of mapping, the division of space through the utilization of the sentence, the line. But instead of the presumed indelibility of words that cut and pronouns that clearly mark the subject, now Moss uses lines to reveal the difficulty inherent in the line itself, in its promise to locate an object, to circumscribe a category. In other words, Moss puts into question the seemingly natural divisions a line determines. Just as two points determine a line, binary oppositions determine axes of meaning. Moss interrogates binaries. What is of crucial importance in Moss’s thinking is that, like his early critique of the analyst’s rationalizations and of transpositional strategies, in Thirteen Ways certain signifiers are lined up for questioning; they are all condensations for the same basic problem. This problem is a particular kind of not-thinking. Not-thinking goes by different names: common sense, sincerity,
Take his sweetly ironic, and at the same time deadly serious, chapter “Masculinity As Masquerade.” The category of the masculine is always in need of supplementation. “Masculinity,” Moss says, “lacks the capacity to legitimate itself.” Jack Black, the comic actor in the movie Noche Libre, though a “menial in a monastery,” aspires to wrestling greatness. Moss writes:
The primary process seeks and finds identity, the absolute replication of the stored perceptual elements of the original experience of satisfaction. The secondary process seeks and finds substitutes. [There] is a crucial difference between the identical and the substitute. (p.27) Patients who struggle with not-thinking cannot move past the “bitter experience” of wishing and so renounce wishing itself. “They are still,” Moss concludes. “Their effective vocabulary consists of one word: No” (p.28). Not surprisingly, Moss is on the lookout for aspects of experience that force thinking, that, as he likes to say, make a demand on the mind for work. And Moss will find such a demand in unlikely places.
In the film’s signature moment, Black reassures his protégé, a young boy who has spotted him surreptitiously dressing up, that “it’s okay because sometimes a man just goes into his room and puts on stretchy pants and has a lot of fun.” This declaration is meant to mollify the boy’s uncomprehending, and suspicious, gaze, to reassure him that his adored older friend, regardless of the stretchy pants and what used to be the forbidden “feminine” posturing in front of the a mirror, remains what he always was: the incarnation of an admirable, straightforward masculinity. (p.1) 24
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Black likes to wear “stretchy pants,” which, obviously, feminizes conventional masculinity, a central feature of its “emerging” creative construction. Black’s “it’s okay” lends credence, if not legitimacy, to what Moss calls an “ethics of liberation.” Moss situates this emerging masculinity within a dialectic of ideology and liberation, the latter always being relative to existing beliefs. Masculinity is a dynamic concept, then, a site of contest precisely because masculine experience is not self-sufficient. As if to conclude that which is inherently inconclusive, Moss states: “[Masculinity] always needs affirmation, and there, in that need, lies its delegitimating ‘weak point,’ its confession to be less than—other than it aspires to. No matter how complete, masculinity suspects itself of pretending” (p.7). Moss relates this delegitimating and pretending, what amounts to an unavoidable falseness, to psychoanalysis. “What if,” he asks, “psychoanalytic thought, like Jack Black, continuously aimed, in effect, to have fun with stretchy pants, to consider its own repudiations?” Whether consider-
ing the category “emerging masculinity,” or “psychoanalytic thought,” Moss makes clear that insight, progress, seeming movement are always threatened by ideological triumph, again congealing around a narcissistic victory, foreclosing ongoing thinking. “Ever receding, ever surpassed, always anachronistic, old-fashioned masculinities [leave] an historical trail” (p.2). As go old-fashioned masculinities, Moss hopes, so go old-fashioned psychoanalyses. In much of Thirteen Ways, the reader is often left wondering, why masculinity? Why manhood at all? Moss, in fact, seems to be speaking to all of us about the question of becoming and resisting becoming a thinking person, a person who theorizes, fantasizes, desires, and acts in the world. Much of the chapter “On neither Being nor Becoming a Man” reads this way. It is true that Moss spends time on Freud’s theory of identification and group affiliation. Men, it seems, want to feel an affiliation with “men.” Moss, at one point, speaks of an imaginary
friend whom he calls, not without a barely perceptible smile, “my guy.” “My guy” comes up, prereflectively, when Moss seems to feel threatened by another “guy’s” in-your-face masculinity. I am not at all convinced that women don’t, also, have such an imaginary friend, a “guy” that shores up their femininity, itself an insufficient category. It is arguably true that both men and women, in other words, are “into guys,” and are, in this basic sense, homosexual. Though never made explicit, Moss writes under the aegis of the paternal metaphor and the phallic signifier as foundational whether we are gendered male or female. The phallic signifier is unstable and thereby transferable; independent of gender, one can appropriate it for one’s own uses. We get a sense of this living under the umbrella of the paternal, of the manly metaphor— however contested the space, however lacking the category itself is—when Moss considers the intimate relationship between being a writer and being a man. [A] “man” (I put this in question marks to indicate that we lack a clear
idea of what the term actually signifies), like a writer, must, in order to take on the task of “becoming and being a man,” contend with the problems presented by voice. In what voice will this man aim to speak? With what degree of apology, of assertion, of insistence, will this man speak? (p.10) Moss concludes: “I think that the problems associated with being and becoming a ‘writer’ are congruent with the problems associated with being and becoming a ‘man.’” Notice the sentence construction that perfectly reproduces in style the meaning of “congruence.” Notice, also, that the problems associated with “becoming a writer” are human problems neither exclusively male nor female. I think Moss would agree that the phallus as signifier is both anyone’s and no one’s property (Moss does make passing reference to Lacan’s famous article on the subject). The phallus is borrowed for the purposes of voice, speaking, moving.
Here, Moss might be confusing what appears to be “masculine” or “male” (the “problems” with voice and the like) with the unstable, unruly, yet hegemonic function of the phallic signifier that conditions all speaking, all affiliation, and all arrogance. Moss, in a deep sense, is a nosographer, a classifier of genus and species in the spirit of Aristotle. The categories “male,” “heterosexual,” and “homosexual”—all are signifiers without a clear signified (analogous, perhaps, to the Aristotelian ideal of “happiness”). What we find is the mobilization of desire through an interrogation of categories. Desire ends up being that which eludes classification, upends such a project, and continually dislocates our very desire to locate. In the chapter “Freud’s Female Homosexual,” Moss will have none of Freud’s ethos of “confidence [regarding] the premises of heterosexual primacy” (p.98). He writes: Confidence needs axioms. Lacking axioms, then, all that we will confidently find when thinking of sexual object choice will be simply, finally, and irreducibly
the fact of our wishing for them. We will realize, then, that our listening, like our patient’s speaking, is necessarily infiltrated with desire. Of that alone can we be sure. (p.99) This is Moss at his most compelling. He feasts on “confidence,” convention, common sense, sincerity. He finds lurking behind the curtain of confidence a kind of bad faith, a lie that often manifests in arrogance, or fear, and, at times, hatred. Though the book has objectivist tendencies—the epistemological problem of locating persons, desires, categories, and the like—Moss’s rigor, as I stressed at the beginning, is driven by emotional experience. We get this most directly in Moss’s autobiographical chapters and asides. Throughout the book Moss interpolates renderings of himself as both adult and child that are by turns moving, odd, sad, and discomfiting. They are also, I dare say, sincere. 25
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Moss begins the book with an encounter that puts him in an acute state of self-consciousness, that is, puts him in a state of desire. He is driving to work, in suit and tie. At a noisy stoplight in a busy intersection, he is captivated by a large billboard of a sexy, superfit (heterosexual) couple in the skimpiest of Calvin Klein underwear. Man and woman are in suspended animation, ready to pounce, to grope one another. This experience of Moss’s is not a one-time thing. Like Dr. T. J. Eckelburg’s staring opaquely into the Valley of Ashes, the Calvin Klein billboard confronts Moss with himself everyday as he drives to work. And struggle he does. He is beset by a “tangle of questions,” among which are: “What is it like to look at this man?” “What is it like to want something from him?” “What is it like to be afraid of what I want?” “What is it like to be a gay man looking?” (p.xx). Since Moss is writing in the idiom of psychoanalysis and not pornography or a more broadly imagined “erotics,” we get what feel to be tepid, inchoate answers to these questions. But Moss is not stupid. He is well aware of the allure of the “real thing,” and that con-
cretely answering such questions indulges the very same not-thinking he so wishes to counter. Moss’s offering answers to the questions the Calvin Klein billboard evokes in him (and us) would inhibit our capacity to imagine and wish, and falsely ease our sense of subjective dis-ease. Forgive me my own brief autobiographical aside. When I was seventeen, my best friend and I went up to San Francisco to see the Grateful Dead. This was 1974—the so-called last five nights at Winterland Arena. As we waited outside for hours and hours on a Friday in the early afternoon, taking in the crowded scene and trying to score some acid, there was this guy circling the block, every fifteen minutes or so. People called him “Ted.” He’d walk by, weather-beaten, with long, impossibly tangled dark hair, and a pensive, silent stare. Inevitably, the call out would come: “Hey, Ted. What’s up?” Ted was lost in an endless orbit of LSD trips, never to return to earth. He didn’t try to
score a ticket, let alone go inside for the show. He just circled the block. Don Moss’s first aside is about a “Ted.” Someone Moss grew up with—a crazy, brilliant, lost soul. But Ted saved Moss’s masculine soul. Before he went off the deep end for good, Ted gave Moss a precious gift. Moss had great anxiety about having sex with his fiancé. He felt unmanly, like he just couldn’t do it. Ted told him to enjoy himself. “He told me I was as manly as a person could get and that all that was happening with my woman was that, maybe, I wasn’t liking sex enough and when I liked it more and wanted it more things would be fine.” Needless to say, things were fine after that. Like a rare but invaluable psychoanalytic interpretation, “his words worked.” Soon after, Ted grew more psychotic, and ended up disappearing into homelessness on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. There are many aspects of human experience we can understand and identify with,
suffered severe head and spinal injuries and may not live. He is in a hospital, in isolation, inside the bubble of an oxygen tent. This is the late 1940s. The sentences have a clipped, childlike clarity that captures the barely mediated world of a terrified youngster:
one person to another. One thing that I think is especially hard to identify with is guilt as it relates to the details of another’s personal relationships. In this regard, Moss seems to me particularly harsh on himself when it comes to Ted: “I think now that what he offered me was intoxication. I found a kind of substance in Ted’s suffering. I could hook onto his certainty…I wanted a talking dead man. Ted was it” (p.20). Again, who am I, or who are we, to gainsay someone else’s guilt, remorse, self-reproach? Like another’s experience of bodily pain, these are, perhaps, the most unreachable, unfathomable, of feelings to those outside a particular interpersonal situation looking in. In “Two Ways of Looking Back,” Moss involves us in the haunting and solitary reality of serious childhood illness. The first story, about his having contracted polio, is told in a straightforward manner. The issue of guilt is again engaged. Moss worries that his friend Bobby’s cleft palate is somehow contagious. “The best, and only, thing to do was to never see him again, so I didn’t. I got polio when I stopped seeing Bobby. There had to have been a reason” (p.44). The second story is a feat of literary austerity. The young Moss has
of Moss, the elementary school boy afraid to sing his favorite song, “When at Night I Go to Sleep,” in front of the other boys in his class. In the boys’ presence, suddenly, without warning, as he is about to sing about the angels who protect him each night, his precious song becomes a “sissy” song. So instead, on a dime, he launches into “From the Halls of Montezuma.” Moss does not so much as choose between the boys whose love he craves and the song that keeps him company in his lonely nightly vigil of worry and fear as he tries to sleep. He is “chosen.” He responds to what seems like the call of nascent masculinity. One can’t help but notice, and feel the emotional weight of, the “sincerity” in Moss’s telling of these early experiences, experiences rendered in such a way that the reader senses a kind of “destiny function” at work. These experiences throw the young Moss onto an inevitable, singular human path and leave their marks on him—mind and body—as he travels down it. For Moss, in the end, in spite of all manner of trauma, heartache, and confusion, there’s Little Richard. Yes. Little Richard. For a while, every afternoon the youngster
Though no harm was intended [by the doctor’s comments], I used the information in a harmful manner. There were two parts to my spine, one straight and one deformed. I visualized them parallel to each other. Then I tried to squeeze the two together into a single straight line. (p.45) The bodily, experiential origins, perhaps, of Moss’s grammarian method—squeezing himself into a straight line? Making himself right? Thirteen Ways concludes with more personal reminiscence. We read of Moss’s father, a WWII veteran, a teller of stories himself. And
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Moss would hole up in his room—no parents were home—and sing his heart out with Little Richard. Little Richard was wholly other to how Moss was supposed to be (Jewish, learned, cultured), what he was supposed to cherish (“words, sense, good taste”), and how he was supposed to turn out. Little Richard, from his parents’ point of view, was “trash.” Moss writes: All those afternoons with Little Richard and you can never again believe that reason and rules best map your possibilities. Little Richard always out there at the edge, screaming his lungs out, screaming at you, saying why stop, why stop there, come on, come on. (p.116) Little Richard laid it on the line. Donald Moss does the same. Let’s cut the bullshit, Moss tells us, implores us, again and again. Let’s think. Let’s want. Let’s wish. Don’t give
in to easy answers to hard questions. Instead, keep asking them. Who, exactly, are we? What do we want? What do we not want to know about what we want? And how do we go about not-knowing, not-thinking, so we can get moving again, get thinking again? Psychoanalysis gives us all a shot at this difficult, faulty, and, yes, sincere project. As Moss says: Psychoanalysis, at its best, does what Little Richard did. Like Little Richard, the analyst, the man, is always out there at the edge, not screaming, but insisting with words and with silence, why stop, why stop, why stop there; come on, come on. (p.116) z REFERENCES Moss, D. (1986). Pseudo-quotes in psychoanalytic Interventions. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 34, 23–46. Moss, D. (1990). Thoughts on two seminars of Jacques Lacan, with a focus on their difficulty. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 71, 701–771. Moss, D. (2003). Hating in the first person plural: Psychoanalytic essays on racism, homophobia, misogyny, and terror. New York, NY: Other Press. Muller, J. P., & Richardson, W. J. (1982). Lacan and language: A reader’s guide to écrits. Madison, CT: International Universities Press.
“Nothing, My Lord”: A Review of The Life and Death of Psychoanalysis
Freud’s interest in Pandora and her box. The footnote appears in Malcolm’s discussion of the case of Dora, the name Freud gave to his adolescent patient, Ida Bauer, when he wrote “Dora: Fragments of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria” (1905/1953). As Malcolm points out, one reason why this case continues to hold such interest for psychoanalysts is the extent to
writing as well, as a form of psychoanalytic work. In that case, psychoanalytic writing eschews the scientific ideal of the dispassionate author and instead embraces an engagement between author, text, and reader that dwells in that matrix of love/hate and its interactive effects with ignorance/knowledge that constitutes the transferential field. Freud, writing from the web of transference in his correspondence with Wilhelm Fliess, not only discovers a therapeutic process; he also discovers a truth about writing, which he then deploys in his early works, where he analyzes his own dreams and slips, and in his clinical cases, which he writes with a novelist’s voice, including especially the case of Dora. Freud discovers
in these authors insofar as they continue to have that effect on her. To be carried away, enrapt, by a text or an author, with its hint not only of seduction but even a kind of sexual violence, suggests an erotics of reading linked to a mythic femininity. For Webster, it is in the transference that one finds one’s place as a reader, and especially a reader of psychoanalysis. If not there, where one’s autonomous mind is put in doubt, then why bother? If not there, then it is not psychoanalysis that one is encountering, or at least not a living psychoanalysis. When she speaks of The Life and Death of Psychoanalysis, this is what she means. It is both a life and death for the author as an analyst, as conveyed by the dreams and
which Freud gets caught in a web of erotic phantasy, a web, in fact, far more complicated than that which he explicitly addresses. And of course, it is one woven by the desire of the doctor as well as the patient. The web includes the name Dora as the pseudonym Freud chose and, especially, all that he doesn’t say about that choice. Malcolm discovers that transference is a web involving both doctor and patient, and that coming to terms with this interactive matrix has been (and continues to be) a critical challenge and source of new possibilities in the development of the field. This discovery is not only theoretical. Malcolm encounters the transference web in her relationship with the analyst “Aaron Green,” with whom she is meeting, but also in her encounter with Freud through his texts. The passage about her “getting a little carried away” conveys this latter truth. The transference to the text appears secondarily in Malcolm’s book, but it is just as significant, as is her transference to the analyst. If psychoanalytic work takes place only insofar as there is transference, then this principle can extend to psychoanalytic
that there is a transferential field involving writer, text, and reader that when deployed in certain ways allows the act of writing/ reading to function as an analytic act. Like all psychoanalytic acts, it is inherently experimental, in the sense of an experimental act of creation, as close to art as to science. Its success, indeed, its meaning, is never assured in advance, but measured by its effects. These are certainly the premises assumed by Jamieson Webster, another adept acrobat tightroping on the web of transference in The Life and Death of Psychoanalysis (2011). Her book is an experimental act in transferential writing. For Webster, the exploration of transference to the text as an analytic act—and it makes almost no sense to call it a self-analytic act, precisely because there is a transference—frames her reading of Theodor Adorno, Jacques Lacan, and Alain Badiou. Those who are looking for a dispassionate analysis of the work of those three intriguing thinkers should look elsewhere. More than Malcolm, who “gets carried away,” Webster makes it clear that she is carried away from the start, and that she only remains interested
passions presented in the text, but also the life and death of the field of psychoanalysis. Webster’s thesis is that the field lives insofar as it engages the effects of transference in its literature and discourse rather than fleeing them in the name of dispassionate science. Returning to Janet Malcolm’s reading of Freud, his interest in the box as a symbol of the female genitals is less significant in itself than as a sign of his discomfort with feminine sexuality. In that sense the box, even as it functions as a programmatic symbol in a manner that Freud warned the analyst against, also functions as a signifier for Freud’s discomfort. That is, in representing the female genitals it also represents for Freud a matrix of signifiers associated with the feminine and the mixture of desire and dread that he experiences in relation to them. Freud explicitly says that the box functions as a privileged signifier for Dora. However, that it also functions as such for Freud is hidden. In Malcolm’s view this is conveyed both by Freud’s awkward assertions and ellipses (including the link to Pandora) in his discussion of the case, and by the excitement it arouses in her, the
In a footnote to her book Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession (1982), Janet Malcolm wonders whether “she is getting a little carried away” in her discussion of The Life and Death of Psychoanalysis By Jamieson Webster London: Karnac, 152 pp., $37.95, 2011
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reader. Freud, in the manner of an analysand in treatment, both disguises and reveals his desire and dread in his stumbling with the signifier. Indeed, the transference is the web of signifiers, and to stumble in one is to stumble in the other. The inherent relationship between the speech act (even an act of writing) and the field of transference is what makes psychoanalysis possible. A fundamental text that examines the link between signification and transference is Freud’s The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901/1960), and strikingly, it is in that volume that he traces the origin of the pseudonym “Dora” to the name of his sister’s nursemaid (p.308). In other words, the choice of this name had already played a part in one of Freud’s “self-analytic” texts. However, Malcolm suggests that Freud was in fact overlooking, or perhaps hiding, a more likely and significant link. “Who could Dora be but Pandora?” Malcolm asks.
for her writing. In her preface she states, “I allow myself to blur the line between what is personal and impersonal throughout this work, but it must be said that in doing so, I take Freud as my model” (p.xi). There is much more going on here than an imitatione Freudi. One must read Webster as one listens, “with a third ear.” For when she writes of taking Freud as her model, she evokes the role of the master, a role that she then plays with throughout the text. Thus, Webster is not merely identifying with Freud as another subject who writes from a personal voice, but also implicitly taking him as the object of her desire, in hiding behind the three writers she chooses to acknowledge. To see how this is so, it is useful to return briefly once again to Malcolm’s book. Ostensibly a journalistic account of the then current state of the psychoanalytic field, the “impossible profession” comes alive when Malcolm encounters the vulnerability first
And: “[T]here is the quarter turn between the hysteric and the analyst, and I don’t think it possible without a deep love and respect for the unconscious” (p.139). The passage from love for the master to love for the unconscious is the drama of Webster’s tale. It is a narrative journey from transference to the author and to the author’s text to a transference to the textual unknown that is the unconscious. This suggests that writing and especially a personal writing from within the web of transference may play a fundamental role not only in the analytic act, but also in the process of becoming an analyst. Not all analysts go through this particular passage in their formation as analysts. Not all select writing as the medium of their encounter, but it is a fair question and one posed implicitly by Webster’s book, whether, aside from a personal analysis, some form of work in which one engages in the sort of
“The case [of Dora] rattles with boxes; you practically trip over one wherever you turn” (1982, p.96). It is in Freud’s choice of the name of that mythic woman, the “authoress of all our ills” (1982, p.96), that Malcolm finds clues to the more complex web of transference than the limited one Freud explicitly addresses in his discussion of the case. It is Freud’s erotic fantasies that are conveyed by the name Pandora, and by her association with Prometheus, a figure that has significance for Freud as well. Freud certainly saw his life’s work as a Promethean discovery changing the status of mortals in the world. The Gods sent Pandora to earth as punishment for Promethean excess. The message from Zeus: “You want the Promethean gift of psychoanalysis? Well then, you also get the Pandora’s box of transference to struggle with all of your days.” Freud, of course, says none of this, but puts it all there to be discovered by the reader who develops a sufficient interest in the text. To ask whether Freud does so consciously begs the question. Webster is quite aware that she is working this line. This is the sort of reading that interests her and sets the framework
of Freud in his slips and confusions about Pandora/Dora and then of the analyst “Aaron Green” when he talks of his blunders and his vulnerabilities when it comes to dealing with missed payments. It is not merely “the master’s” power but his fall that frames the transferential web, as the 18-year-old called Dora certainly knew as well. Webster addresses how this love for the master and especially for his fall functions within the structure of hysteria. She introduces it in her relationship to the three “masters” she is writing about. Indeed, these are stories of her love for them and their fall, their fall and her increased love. But as she writes, “hysterical ideals with respect to love are always at the heart of symptoms” (p.129). To write from the web of transference, then, is to write from one’s symptoms. It is as Lacan said of James Joyce, a putting into play the symptom that would otherwise be one’s undoing, a species of madness converted to the creative act. Webster again: “With each of these thinkers there was for me in the beginning a kind of madness, reading for hours on end, I couldn’t get inside it enough, much like the beginning of any common love affair” (p.139).
struggle that this book represents is in fact a necessary element in the “quarter turn” from neurotic to analyst. Freud’s letters to Fliess, Lacan’s weekly seminar, Bion’s immersion in groups as well as his writing, would be instances of such encounters. Webster’s book is about becoming a psychoanalyst. However, it is also the record of that becoming. It is the record of a certain encounter with the text that in Webster’s case forms the work of transference, and transference work, through which she finds her place as analyst. The book is structured around three dreams and around the reading of three authors. As noted, Freud too wrote from his dreams in the process of becoming a psychoanalyst. However, he also wrote “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality”(1905/1960), and, most importantly for reading Webster’s book, “The Theme of the Three Caskets” (1913/1958). It is in this latter work that the significance of the number three is addressed. And in that discussion of a literary theme that Freud traces back to its origins in myth is revealed a structure that in fact also lies beneath Webster’s journey.
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Freud begins the essay on the theme of three caskets by recalling the choice that must be made by Bassanio, Portia’s lover in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Suitors for the princess’s hand must choose among three caskets in order to find the correct one, the one that contains the portrait of the princess. In his analysis of this story, Freud identifies the casket (another box) with Woman and renders the theme of the three caskets: the choice of three women. This analysis then takes us to King Lear and the three women who are his daughters, but takes us also, as Freud moves to the myth that he finds behind the literary works, to the three Fates and especially the third Fate Atropos, the inevitable, who is Death. How Love and Death are linked is the point of the myth, in Freud’s view, and the truth is conveyed most directly by the character of the third Fate. As Freud puts it:
the Other, is what the myth conveys. That an actual woman can occupy the place of the subject and three male authors can be situated in the place of the Other is entirely in keeping with the character of Freud’s discourse throughout this essay. In the mythic form, substitution, displacement, condensation, indeed all of the rhetorical tropes of the primary process, are permitted. The Life and Death of Psychoanalysis is Jamieson Webster’s encounter with the three caskets. In them she has placed Adorno, Lacan, and Badiou, but the questions regarding which one she loves, which one deserves her love, which love is true, and what it means to choose are the questions of Lear, the questions always at stake in the theme of the three caskets. The male authors in the caskets should not lead us astray, since, as Freud reasons, it is the caskets themselves that represent the women, who in turn represent the Fates, the Graces, and the Hours (time itself ).
However, it is the third dream, a minimal dream about finding a book entitled Instructions on How to Fell a Tree, a nearly empty dream about loss itself, and associated with a certain process of subtraction and the movement toward a nodal zero point, associated in turn with the work of Alain Badiou, that functions as the third casket. The emptying out that allows for the choice of love without glorification, without justification, without any reason. This is the choice associated with becoming a psychoanalyst, represented by the move from the wish for authorization to the real of the psychoanalytic act. As Webster puts it, “Psychoanalysis is the grace of a losing strategy. It is as if the injunction itself emptied out” (p.95). The losing strategy is the one taken by Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice when he chooses the casket of lead and wins his love. That it is the choice of loss is first
We might argue that what is represented here are the three inevitable relations that a man has with a woman—the woman who bears him, the woman who is his mate and the woman who destroys him; or that they are the three forms taken by the figure of the mother in the course of a man’s life—the mother herself, the beloved one who is chosen after her pattern, and lastly the Mother Earth who receives him once more. But it is in vain that an old man yearns for the love of woman as he had it first from his mother; the third of the Fates alone, the silent Goddess of Death, will take him into her arms. (1913/1958, p.301)
Webster makes many trenchant points in her reading of these authors and in her original and engaging critique of their thought. It is not in any way to minimize the value of that critique to say that what ultimately distinguishes the book is, however, somewhere else. It is rather in the form of her encounter with the three caskets represented by these authors and in her coming to terms with the choice she must make in order to become a psychoanalyst. Choice involves wish and wish, of course, leads to dreams. So it should be no surprise that it is in Webster’s dreams as presented in the book that the drama unfolds. The earliest dream, which is told second but which Webster says “belongs to Adorno,” is a dream of the mute and mutilated trumpets of angels set as a memorial: “a memorial to impotence,” she calls it. In the second dream, told first in the book, the reversal being a play on the nachtraglich (or belated) effects of unconscious memory, a vase and a letter appear, two signifiers of importance in Lacan’s work. The dream is an open wish to be authorized as a psychoanalyst through Webster’s matrilineal identification. The first trope is thus from impotence to authorization.
made clear by the slogan on the third casket. After the first two caskets of gold and silver promise objects of desire, the third promises only, “Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.” It is also clear in Bassanio’s assertion upon making the choice: “[T]hy meagre lead which rather threaten’st than dost promise aught. Thy paleness moves me more than eloquence.” Or as Cordelia, the third daughter of King Lear, said when pressed by her father, “What can you say to win a third more opulent than your sisters?” (1988, p.945). “Nothing, my lord.” z
Freud is rendering these thoughts in their mythic form, as he does throughout this remarkable essay. It would be a reduction and distortion of Freud’s point to take Man and Woman in their commonplace sense here rather than in the mythic sense that Freud is writing. Man is in the place of the Subject in this rendering and Woman in the place of the Other. The three positions of the Other, origin, love, and death, and the Subject’s encounter with these positions of
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REFERENCES Freud, S. (1901/1960). “The Psychopathology of Everyday Life.” Standard edition (Vol. 6). London: Hogarth Press. Freud, S. (1905/1953). “Dora: Fragments of an analysis of a case of hysteria.” Standard edition (Vol. 7, pp.1–122). London: Hogarth Press. Freud, S. (1905/1953). “Three essays on the theory of sexuality.” Standard edition (Vol 7, pp.125-248), London: Hogarth Press. Freud, S. (1913/1958). “The theme of the three caskets.” Standard edition (Vol 12, pp.289-303). London: Hogarth Press. Lacan, J. (1976). The seminar (Book XXIII). Le Synthome, ed. J-A Miller. Paris: Ornicar. Malcolm, J. (1982). Psychoanalysis: The impossible profession. New York: Vintage. Shakespeare, W. (1988). “The Tragedy of King Lear.” The complete works. New York: Oxford University Press.
Review of Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Therapies The psychoanalytic situation has the power to change subjective awareness and one’s experience of the world. And as our clients are changed, so too are we. There Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Therapies By Jeremy D. Safran Washington, DC: APA, 232 pp., $24.95, 2012 are complex dynamics within the dyad that fortify us, disassemble our preconceived notions, and enrich our understanding of ourselves and the other. It is possible to experience another type of transformation through encountering and absorbing the written word. In this way, I came away from Jeremy Safran’s new book, Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Therapies, somehow changed. I must admit that I approached the book with skepticism. Only at the tail end of my reading did I become aware of the fact that I had been reading with an unusually critical eye, continuously wondering what made Safran’s book unique and questioning the journey he was taking me on. Having read numerous books over the past year that present an overview of psychoanalytic or psychodynamic psychotherapy, perhaps I was tired or simply saturated with this type of writing. I found myself wondering, “What could this text offer that has not already been detailed in similar publications?” (Bateman & Holmes, 1995; Cabaniss, Cherry, Douglas, & Schwartz, 2011; Gabbard, 2010; McWilliams, 2004). However, in the end the answer is: quite a lot. Safran’s book is rooted in two broader contexts. First, Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Therapies is part of a larger series of American Psychological Association books—with 24 titles planned—entitled the Theories of Psychotherapy Series. Each book is written by a leading proponent and practitioner of the respective theory, with the entire series geared toward a graduate-level audience. The books are also paired with DVDs that demonstrate the therapy process over the course of six sessions. Safran’s book can be coupled with the DVD Psychoanalytic Therapy Over Time (featuring Jeremy Safran himself ), which was produced in 2008. The second contextual framework is more substantive and is part of what makes Safran’s book a novel contribution to the psychoanalytic literature. Safran’s perspective is rooted in his own largely relational paradigm and his ecumenical approach to other theoretical perspectives, even those outside of psychoanalysis. More importantly, Safran is a social constructionist at heart. In the introduction to the text Safran offers a lengthy discussion of what he refers to as “subversive threads in psychoanalysis.” He offers the
reader a tapestry rich in texture and nuance that draws together many disparate threads in order to create one of the most inclusive histories of psychoanalysis I have read to date. There are places where the contextualization of psychoanalysis feels labored, but necessary in order to thoroughly grasp Safran’s view of the psychoanalytic landscape. For example, there is a substantial discussion of critical theory and the Frankfurt School of social research in the introduction that lays the groundwork for Safran’s perspective on psychoanalysis. Although critical of ways in which psychoanalysis has privileged the few, Safran sees contemporary psychoanalytic theory as one that is politically progressive and deeply influenced by Marxist critiques of capitalism. His discussion, much later in the text, of working with diverse client populations returns to this theme of leveling the playing field across culture, class, and other forms of difference. This foundation is what makes Psychoanlaysis and Psychoanalytic Therapies truly distinct from other introductions to psychoanalytic theory and practice. It was here, in the introduction to the text, that I encountered my own resistance. A small voice in my head kept asking, “Where are we going?” Safran affords the reader an entrée into psychoanalysis that is novel and refreshing. There were places where I found myself disoriented as a result. However, much like the process of therapy, my resistance eventually yielded and gave way. I came away from the book with a new appreciation of the genesis of psychoanalytic thought and the many social, philosophical, and historical influences that have shaped the current milieu. Safran does a masterful job summarizing disparate and complex schools of thought within psychoanalytic theory. He is catholic in his respect and appreciation for paradigms as varied as ego psychology, Lacanian theory, attachment theory, motivational systems, and his native relational school. Whereas many battles have been fought across these reified lines, Safran’s appreciation for the unique contributions of each is invigorating. Chapter 2 details the many theoretical developments across time and continents that have shaped today’s climate of pluralism and cross-pollination. The reader is given the opportunity to travel through basic Freudian 30
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Tracy A. PROUT
tenets, the development of ego psychology in Britain and the United States, Kleinian and object relations theories, interpersonal analysis, Kohutian perspectives, relational theory, Latin American influences, and Lacanian theory. His writing on these very complex and nuanced perspectives, and the ways in which they have influenced one another, is refreshingly clear and straightforward. Even his discussion of Lacan is digestible, a rare feat matched only by the work of Bruce Fink (2011). The only perspectives that were notably absent were those of neuroscience and neuropsychoanalysis, which would be wonderful additions to what is already a pretty thorough history.
This chapter on history also introduces the reader to basic theoretical and practical matters of psychoanalytic therapy—namely, transference, countertransference, therapeutic alliance, and resistance. I was glad to see a more in-depth discussion of these foundational elements of psychoanalysis in the subsequent chapter on theory. The artificial divide between history and theory (chapters 2 and 3) is a bit of a conundrum for authors and readers alike. For example, the brief introduction to transference in chapter 2, “History,” left me wanting more. The concept was covered again and in more depth in chapter 3, “Theory,” but it felt a bit odd to have two separate discussions of the same concept. The chapter on theory concludes with a wonderfully precise description of attachment as a motivational system. The longest chapter in the book is the fourth, and its focus is on the therapy process. Organized into two major sections—“Principles of Intervention” and “Change Mechanisms”—this chapter is packed to the gills. Safran’s appreciation for vastly different psychoanalytic theories and his own relational nod to intersubjectivity and a two-person psychology are on display here. In a section
on affect regulation, Safran writes, “There was thus a type of mutual evolving relational dance taking place that allowed both me and my clients…to change at the same time” (p.115). There were many places in this chapter where I felt I was grasping long-understood concepts in new and deeper ways. As a teacher of psychodynamic psychotherapy, I found myself placing Post-it notes throughout this section to share with my students. Safran writes about the impact of unconscious motives in this way: “We do things for reasons that are opaque to us and are then surprised and disappointed by the results. This contributes to a sense of being a victim rather than an agent” (p.107). Something about this type of parsimony, which can be found throughout the book, added a new layer of clarity to a long-studied topic.
It is impossible to teach the theory and practice of psychotherapy without cogent case examples. Often texts like these are enhanced with a smattering of vignettes intended to bring the material to life. Safran offers many brief illustrations throughout, especially in chapter 4, “The Therapy Process,” and these are wonderful. But, given that the psychoanalytic therapy is a rich and multilayered process that unfolds over the course of time, it was the two lengthier case studies that I found most informative. The first case presented is that of a fouryear, three-day-a-week analysis of a young African American woman named Simone. Safran’s summary of this very complex case is highly engaging, sophisticated, and highlights numerous aspects of psychoanalytically oriented treatment. Their work together demonstrates the movement of client and therapist from the surface to deeper recesses of the mind and individual history. Aspects of Simone’s personality emerge naturally over the course of treatment as Safran reveals his understanding of these dynamics and his private reactions to her style of interacting. There is close attention to the racial differences between
client and therapist, as well as a thoughtful discussion of dreams, early childhood experiences, and the client’s ongoing ambivalence about treatment. Perhaps the best parts of this particular case are those that represent two sides of the same truth—one part of being a therapist is being comfortable in the “not knowing.” There are aspects of the case that Safran reports were never “fully explored” (p.123) in their work together. I found myself nodding in solidarity with this statement; there are always threads that remain unpursued, truths unrevealed, questions left unanswered in the work we do. This tolerance for ambiguity and acceptance of things that remain opaque is an essential trait of therapists of all orientations. As Safran puts it, “I believe that no story ever completely unfolds in any treatment and that at any given point in time a specific client and therapist are able to reach the depth and accomplish what they are both ready and able to accomplish at that time” (p.134). On the other side of this uncertainty, Safran wraps up his case with a follow-up from the client years after the termination of their work together. These types of epilogues are rare; how many clients move on from therapy never to be heard from again? There is an argument for knowing the effects of our work. The second case detailed in this part of the book is a six-session treatment conducted for the purposes of the accompanying APA training DVD, Psychoanalytic Therapy Over Time, with Amanda, a young Caucasian woman with a history of depression and substance abuse. The inclusion of this case in a text on psychoanalytic therapy will likely be satisfying for clinicians working with time-limited treatment settings (e.g., college counseling, managed care) and for those who are familiar with or eager to learn about brief relational therapy (BRT; Safran, 2002), the core conflictual relationship theme (CCRT; Book, 1997) in brief psychodynamic psychotherapy, and other short-term treatments. I did wonder how the filming of these sessions might have naturally affected the process between client and therapist, but the case still provided valuable insights about how to work through a therapeutic impasse. Safran’s candor and self-disclosure about his countertransference reactions and thoughts about the client between sessions were also very gratifying. Both cases reflect Safran’s 31
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relational stance and his rejection of the myth of the isolated mind. Finally, Safran concludes with a brief chapter on empirical evaluation of psychoanalytic concepts and treatment and a discussion of future directions for the field. As a psychodynamic researcher, I would have preferred to have seen the evaluation research woven into the rest of the text rather than left for the end. This organization reminded me of courses where “multicultural issues” were identified in a separate lecture as though they were not part and parcel of all that had previously been discussed. Although Safran makes a strong case for the importance of ongoing psychodynamic psychotherapy research— not surprising given that he is a leader in the field—it would be stronger still if evidence and future questions were provided throughout the book. He concludes with more pointed elaboration on the issues of class, culture, and difference that are hallmarks of Safran’s work and many of those from the relational school. His inclusion of Altman’s (2000) self-disclosing story of failed treatment with an African American client was a wonderful example. This is a gem of a book. Students of psychoanalytic psychotherapy and seasoned practitioners alike will benefit from this member of the Theories of Psychotherapy Series. Safran’s writing is accessible and astute. He takes the reader on a journey through history and social change that is unique in its perspective and its appreciation for the many who have built the foundations of our psychoanalytic thinking. Safran contextualizes the countercultural forces that have shaped today’s psychoanalytic community. He does so with great care and equanimity. He is a tour guide, taking the reader down broad, familiar streets and also down narrow lanes that have subtly shifted the landscape by subverting the mainstream establishment. Psychonalaysis and Psychoanalytic Therapies is an elegantly and lucidly written book that synthesizes an incredible amount of information. It is a superb resource for academics, practitioners, and researchers at all levels of training. z REFERENCES Altman, N. (2000). Black and White thinking: A psychoanalyst reconsiders race. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 10(4), 589–605. doi:10.1080/10481881009348569 Bateman, A., & Holmes, J. (1995). Introduction to psychoanalysis: Contemporary theory and practice. Florence, KY: Routledge Press. Book, H. E. (1997). How to practice brief psychodynamic psychotherapy: The core conflictual relationship theme mode. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Cabaniss, D. L., Cherry, S., Douglas, C. J., & Schwartz, A. R. (2011). Psychodynamic psychotherapy: A clinical manual. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell. Fink, B. (2011). Fundamentals of psychoanalytic technique: A Lacanian approach for practitioners. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. Gabbard, G. (2010). Long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy: A basic text. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. McWilliams, N. (2004). Psychoanalytic psychotherapy: A practitioner’s guide. New York, NY: The Guilford Press. Safran, J. D. (2002). Brief relational psychoanalytic treatment. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 12(2), 171–195. doi:10.1080/10481881209348661
Max Schur: Freud’s Doctor and My Supervisor
Marvin H. LIPKOWITZ
One evening in October 1969, I took the train from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side of Manhattan and walked to the El Dorado at 300 Central Park West for my weekly analytic supervisory session with Max Schur. I was feeling cheated because he had cancelled my session the week before for the first time in the almost two years that he had been my supervisor. Helen, his wife, met me at the door of their apartment, her face expressing the sadness
While the anxiety disappeared, the awe remained and was constantly refreshed by his erudition, which was not limited to psychoanalysis. There is one example of this that remains fixed in my memory after 50 years. My analysand, a young man whose narcissm was not matched by his education, regularly attempted to impress me with his intellectual attainments. On one occasion he did this rather ostentatiously by quoting the phrase, “Many are the world’s won-
this combination of skills that impressed Princess Marie Bonaparte, Freud’s patron and protector, so deeply that she recommended that he become Freud’s physician in 1929. It took me some time to calculate that he had accomplished all of this, and had been given the responsibility of treating one of the most prestigious figures of his age, when he was only 31 years old. While we did not spend much time speaking of his past, Max did at times talk
that was then conveyed in words: “Marvin, Max is dead.” That was how I learned that I had lost my teacher, my supervisor, and my friend. I had met Helen before knowing Max. She was a child psychiatrist during my years of psychiatric residency training at Kings County Hospital, and in 1959 we had coauthored a paper published in the Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. I had been a friend and colleague of Helen’s for years, and of course I was aware (and in awe) of Max’s reputation as Freud’s physician, but I did not meet him until perhaps five years later when our class of psychoanalytic candidates began attending Friday evening seminars in his home/office. Later, the psychoanalytic training program assigned him to be my individual supervisor. I recall that it did not take long before his personal warmth melted away any anxiety I felt on meeting this famous man.
ders, but none more wonderful than man,” which he attributed to Aeschylus. I had not the vaguest idea of the author of the phrase, and presented it to Max simply as an example of what was occurring in the transference. However, Max, on hearing this, appeared puzzled for a moment, then said, “That’s not right. It’s not Aeschylus, it’s Sophocles.” He then rose and went into another room, returning with a book he had consulted to determine that he was correct, and demonstrated this correctness to me by reading from the book…in classical Greek. I still recall his response to my surprise that he could do this: “Oh, Marvin,” he said, “When I was in school we had to become fluent in both Greek and Latin.” Of course, his erudition was evident in his professional attainments. I learned that his psychoanalytic training had occurred after he had begun to practice as a physician specializing in internal medicine. It was
of his relations with Freud. He described the now famous exchange that occurred at their first meeting—when Freud asked him to promise that when the time came, Max would not let him suffer unnecessarily—and how in 1939 Freud reminded him of the promise and Max fulfilled it. (Freud refused pain medication because he wanted to keep his mind clear for the purposes of his work.) Max had served as Freud’s physician for ten years, from 1929 until 1939. In 1939 Freud and his family emigrated to London. Max and Helen and their family were delayed in following him, because Max had to undergo an operation for appendicitis. After Freud’s death on September 21, 1939, the Schur family emigrated to the United States, where Max resumed his medical practice and obtained a position at Bellevue Hospital in New York. He went on to become a training and supervising analyst at the Downstate Medical Center
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Psychoanalytic Institute and clinical professor of psychiatry at the State University of New York. By the time I knew him his medical and analytic experience had been synthesized into a unified set of constructs. Prior to 1950 his published papers were all on medical subjects, but after that his publications were all on psychoanalytic subjects. Initially he wrote on symptom formation and the development of affects. He was especially interested in somatization and the somatopsychic interface. In his “Comments on the Metapsychology of Somatization”
I had reported to him a particularly inept interpretation, that he asked me whether I believed in the Oedipus complex. The most important result of my supervision with Max had little to do with the technical and theoretical aspects of psychoanalytic treatment. He taught me how to treat patients. This was a result about which we never spoke, and it happened without any conscious effort on my part. I became aware of it only several years after his death when a very cultured gentleman was referred to me for psychotherapy. I learned that he had been in treatment with Max some years
out of breath when Max opened the door for us, I announced that in addition to walking up the stairs I had left my bride on our anniversary. Max looked shocked and upbraided me for doing such a hurtful thing; he then asked for my phone number, and immediately called my wife to apologize to her for taking me from her; congratulated her; and added a few less than kind words about her husband’s misplaced priorities. Fortunately, our marriage survived this bit of stupidity. My wife has never forgotten this call and, occasionally, when I again do something that makes the
(1955), he introduced the concepts of somatization and desomatization. His monograph on The Id and the Regulatory Principles of Psychoanalysis (1966) explains the pleasure-unpleasure principle, and argues for a structured id. In one of his few divergences from Freud’s thinking, he felt that the idea of the repetition compulsion as a regulatory principle was superfluous and was not consistent with Freud’s usual standard of logical conceptualization. Max’s thinking in this work may have reflected the influence of Heinz Hartmann’s reframing of Freud along the lines of ego psychology, a dominant trend in North American psychoanalysis at that time. However, supervision with Max was not an introduction to his theoretical writings. I do not recall his ever referring to them. In fact, his supervisory comments rarely invoked complex theory at all. I remember, with chagrin, one occasion, after
before, but said nothing to him about my connection to Max. After several months of therapy, he said to me, “I have been wondering whether you were Dr. Schur’s student. Your style is so much like his.” While I felt complimented, the real compliment was to Max, who realized that the essential purpose of good supervision, like that of good parenting, is to foster identification. One final example of Max’s profound humanity occurred on May 19, 1967. It was my tenth wedding anniversary, but of course it fell on a Friday, and that was the evening that my psychoanalytic class held its weekly seminar with Dr. Schur. Over my bride’s objections, I felt it imperative to go to the seminar. On that evening, as fate would have it, the elevators in the El Dorado were not working and several of us decided to walk up to the Schur apartment. I no longer recall its exact floor, but the number 18 seems about right. Arriving
recollection appropriate, reminds me of how much I could benefit from a bit more identification with Max. In the slightly more than 70 years of his life, Max Schur achieved many things for which he is remembered. Not the least was his relationship with Freud. I recently attended a Broadway play about Freud, in which frequent reference was made to Max. His interest in learning never ceased. He was an honored physician, an eminent psychoanalyst, and a scholar. But my memory of him is best epitomized by a word from another language that he spoke far better than I. Max Schur was a mensch. z
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REFERENCES Schur, M. (1955). Comments on the metapsychology of somatization. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 10, 119–164. Schur, M. (1966). The id and the regulatory principles of mental functioning. New York, NY: International Universities Press.
Other Family Stories If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way. --Emile Zola (Dreyfus, 1937) In every family there are stories that are repeated to the point of becoming lore. However, each member also creates his own idiosyncratic version of events, constructed through his unique heuristic. We each look into the kaleidoscope, with its distinctive hues and shapes generating our perceptive field, and with what we see, alongside with what we are told, we come to devise assumptions about our reality. There are also the facts that we are not told or those that we perceive but are not spoken; these we intuit, avow, repress, or dissociate depending upon how nurturing or devastating they may be. If we are fortunate, the missing pieces are either of minimal salience or support the version of events that we have constructed for ourselves. At their worst, they haunt us as we grapple along in our attempts to reconcile differing landscapes, whispering to us that we don’t know what others insist we do, or know what we must not acknowledge lest we dare to pierce the protective shield laid down within our family narrative. Consciousness is indeed a social phenomenon (Stern, 1997), and there is no place where this is truer than within the society of a family. Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 when it ran first off and then on Broadway in New York. Performed recently by Denver Society for the Performing Arts, the play tells the story of the Wyeths, a family of writers, actors, politicians, and a reality-television producer. The four Wyeths, patriarch Lyman, matriarch Polly, daughter Brooke, son Tripp, as well as Polly’s, recently released from rehab, sister Silda, gather for Christmas at Lyman and Polly’s Palm Springs home in 2004, Brooke’s first visit from New York in six years. The play starts with volleying, as the four Wyeths have just finished a game of tennis and immediately embark on the verbal shots that only families can lob at one another. Yet what at first glance seems to be a quasi-typical if tense reunion soon devolves into much more, as Brooke reveals that she has written a memoir exposing a long-held family secret about the oldest Wyeth brother, Henry, who died when Brooke and Tripp were children. His death and the events leading up to it have long been relegated to matters that cannot be spoken of in the Wyeth home, and we
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learn how Brooke and Tripp both struggled to make sense of a trauma that remained largely unformulated (Stern, 1997) for each. As Tripp states, he “grew up in the shadow of a brother he barely knew,” attempting to fill the void as the sole surviving Wyeth son. Brooke, who long idealized Henry and describes him as her best friend, grew to blame her parents for his death, demonizing them as monsters incapable of loving their children in any genuine fashion. There is another form of family idiom that sponsors a particular kind of hate. Some families are emotionally shallow. The parents may be unusually concerned with creating a “happy family.” A certain kind
There are also the facts that we are not told or those that we perceive but are not spoken; these we intuit, avow, repress, or dissociate depending upon how nurturing or devastating they may be. of superficial support is provided, but core emotional issues are avoided and channeled through a kind of pseudo-sublimation (Bollas, 1989, pp.130-131). They Wyeths have moved to Palm Springs from Los Angeles, a seeming oasis and sanctuary that represents their wish to gloss over the past and put on a happy face. Over the years, as their parents refused to talk about either Henry or what had happened to him, Brooke and Tripp do their best to sublimate this not-knowing through work: Brooke as an author, scripting characters over whom she has complete knowledge and control, Tripp as a producer of a Judge Judy– like courtroom reality show in which families engage in conflict resolution in a public, gaudy manner. In fact, much of Other Desert Cities serves as a diagram as to how we each erect public and private selves, and how far removed one often is from the other. Lyman is a famous actor turned staunch GOP politician, Polly had a career as a writer of movies in which sister Silda starred while battling her own struggles with addiction. Each character has carefully assembled a public face, while privately each wrestles with their own internal demons stemming from the events surrounding Henry’s death. As the play unfolds, it becomes increasingly clear that each family member has constructed his or her own version of events, stories that are irreconcilable and threaten to tear the family apart forever. As the play reaches its climax, each character’s kaleidoscope crashes to the ground, shatters each 34
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individual’s sense of reality, and illuminates that what cannot be formulated lies dormant until it can no longer be disavowed. Bollas’s unthought known (1987) describes how experience that cannot be spelled out explicitly remains tucked away, there but not there, elusive and yet within reach. As we learn more of the truth behind the family’s secret, it is hard not to wonder if Brooke and Tripp, particularly Brooke, did not indeed know what they claimed not to know; children often discern what goes on behind closed doors between adults. Brooke is at the heart of the story, the identified patient (she has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals), and her memoir serves as the catalyst for the unfolding of events. Perhaps the family secret was there to be known, all along, but could not be thought because the consequences of knowing were too dire. Idealizations would need to be dissolved, devaluations reconsidered, and by the end of the play, which takes place six years later, what was once a paranoid schizoid position has moved into a depressive one. Brooke has come to peace with her past, secrets are spilled and named; thoughts and feelings are now known and can be named, and the choice about what to make public and what to keep private has become reflective as opposed to defensive. Other Desert Cities displays the damage that can be inflicted when events seem too overwhelming to be spoken, when parents attempt to protect their children by refusing to let them engage in their attempts at mastery of understanding the horrors of such experience. Like the pavement on the road to hell, they are well-meaning but utterly destructive. Unformulated experience cannot remain unformulated forever. The family skeletons are eventually revealed; when they can be articulated, processed, and known they no longer haunt us as shadow images that we can neither see nor touch but always sense at our core and in our bones. Instead, they come to inform our understanding of who we are, where we come from, and how we perceive the world around us. We no longer need to idealize or demonize but instead can reconcile the (usually) good intentions with the resultant grief and suffering. Our respective kaleidoscopes may not be identical to those around us, but they need not clash in unacknowledged ways: the differences can be named. z REFERENCES Bollas, C. (1989). Psychoanalysis of the unthought known. The shadow of the object: New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Dreyfus, A., & Dreyfus, P. (1937). Dreyfus: His life and letters. London: Hutchinson and Company. Stern, D. B. (1997). Unformulated experience: From dissociation to imagination in psychoanalysis. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press.
When The Narrative Changes: A Poem by A. E. Stallings The Argument1 After the argument, all things were strange. They stood divided by their eloquence Which had surprised them after so much silence. Now there were real things to rearrange. Words betokened deeds, but they were both Lightened briefly, and they were inclined To be kind as sometimes strangers can be kind. It was as if, out of the undergrowth, They stepped into a clearing and the sun, Machetes still in hand. Something was done, But how they did not fully realize. Something was beginning. Something would stem And branch from this one moment. Something made Them both look up into each other’s eyes Because they both were suddenly afraid And there was no one now to comfort them. “The Argument” could be a poem for marriage counselors. Or a poem for anyone who is married or has ever been, or indeed, for anyone who has ever been in an important relationship of any kind. There’s a moment—in anybody’s life with anybody—when something turns, and not necessarily for the better: some words, a revelation, a betrayal, an eye-opening perception, often mutual, of serious difference. At such moments the narrative, the story couples tell themselves about who they are together, changes. A. E. Stallings2 is a contemporary American poet of great accomplishment and subtle observation. Her close reading here of the changes in emotional weather that come with a serious marital fight is brilliant. She captures the odd dissociative estrangement after the burst of “eloquence” that follows when long-unuttered thoughts have been expressed, that moment when we know things have been said that cannot be taken back, performative words, speech acts requiring further acts. And we recognize the exaggerated politeness of people unsure about where to go next, overwhelmed by the changes their words have wrought, and reluctant to lose the something good they thought they had.
Stallings is regarded as one of the “new formalists”—contemporary poets who make use of traditional forms. She gives us her observation of the couple’s transformative process as a sonnet. She does take liberties with the form. However, the deep structure of a sonnet, a this, but then this, informs the poem. And the sonnet form is a particularly good choice. A sonnet can be a kind of argument—reflecting the duality, the ongoing yes-but of experience contradicting or transforming itself. It should be said that much critical thought has been given to the question of what is and what is not a sonnet.3 (Not unlike the question of what is or is not poetry—or, for that matter, what is or is not psychoanalysis.) Sonnets come in a variety of historical and contemporary shapes, in different lengths and meters, in free verse and rhymed. But there are some general characteristics: complex thought is compressed into a short lyric poem (traditionally 14 lines) with a rough and slightly unequal distribution of weight between a first idea and a second—like eight lines of a first statement hinged to six of a second. The second statement extends or is set against or transforms or argues with the first. 35
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Henry M. SEIDEN
And the last lines, often but not always a couplet, offer a resolution, a bringing together of the contending or antithetical thoughts. I think the key element (and the source of poetic excitement) is the hinge, the turn, the volta, the line that takes one from the first sentiment to the second, that is, the line that signals a sudden or surprising transformation of experience or understanding. In “The Argument,” the turn is sharp (quite literally) and breathtaking, the image is stunning: stepping out into “a clearing and the sun, machetes still in hand.” The metaphorical knives take us from odd “kindness” to clarity and sudden fear. Fear is right: this fight is a killing fight. The couple knows that “something was done,” that “something would stem.” They are afraid, but more. They are suddenly alone, their aloneness made more cruel by the fact that what has been damaged is the couplehood that had been their refuge. But by “no one now to comfort them,” Stallings is addressing something more than the fact that they don’t have each other. This is not just a poem about a crisis in a relationship; it is a poem about growing up. When the narrative governing a sustaining relationship changes, a kind of innocence is lost. The loneliness that comes of that loss is inescapable. Still, there may something to be said for loneliness. And there may be a place for a psychoanalyst here. Readers of DIVISION/ Review will remember that Heinz Kohut thought that the disjunctions, the breaks in the narrative, the inevitable failures of the “self-selfobject bond,” are vital opportunities for what he called “transmuting internalization.” That is, that we grow up by coming to terms with the impossibility of relying on someone else (like a marriage partner—or an analyst) to complete us. The disappointment, which may at first be heartbreaking—or enraging, as here in “The Argument”—requires us to provide our own completion. It starts us (we hope) on a process whereby we can go forward more whole. z 1. Reprinted by permission of Triquarterly Press. “The Argument” appears in Olives (2012) and first appeared in The Cortland Review in 2006. 2. Stallings (born in 1968) is a 2011 MacArthur Fellow. She is a frequent contributor of poems and essays to poetry journals and has published three books of original verse, Archaic Smile (1999, University of Evansville Press); Hapax (2006, Triquarterly Press); and Olives (2012, Triquarterly Press). In 2007 she published a verse translation of Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura (The Nature of Things) with Penguin Classics. 3. See, for one example, the variety of sonnets and the interesting essay by Tony Barnstone (2006). REFERENCES Barnstone, T. (2006, December). A manifesto on the contemporary sonnet: A personal aesthetics. The Cortland Review. http://www.cortlandreview.com/features/06/december/barnstone_e.html
All of These Things Will Happen
A Graduation Address for the Class of 2012 New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy When Jo Lang called to extend this invitation, my mind turned first toward how it is a wonderful invitation indeed. I have been fortunate to speak in a variety of psychoanalytic settings, but this invitation comes with particular meaning in that it comes from students as they celebrate the culmination of many years of study and hard, humbling work. So, I thank you sincerely for the honor. But immediately my mind then went to the following thought: wait a minute, I am too young! I laughed as I linked that thought with the feeling of sudden age that I experience each time, every time I watch gray hair fall to the floor as the barber buzzes. I laughed again when I considered that only in this profession could a fifty-something feel too young. Then I thought, hey, it is the 50th anniversary, so maybe I am part of the theme. Or I figured, well, Martin Bergman must have said no, or perhaps you are waiting to invite him back next year when he will be 100. I figured as well that Phil Bromberg must be out of town at a Grand Man conference, and that Adrienne Harris had likely stormed the gates to be there too. So here you are, stuck with me. What could I possibly have to say beyond annoying you yet further with my narcissistic nattering about arthritis, jowls, and gout? So I immediately turned to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Tony Kushner, and David Foster Wallace, who are known for their famous commencement addresses (among other things). Big mistake. Not only did I feel green as in young, but as in envy. I implore you to read them. You must read Emerson as he addressed the Harvard class of 1837, and made his case for the necessity of scholarship and contemplation: “Whilst the world hangs before the eye as a cloud of beauty, we cannot even see its beauty.” You must read Foster Wallace as he addressed the Kenyon College class of 2005, and leaned into his exquisite attunement to the interstitial to point out that freedom is found not in the big moments but in the between moments of caring for others: “That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.” You must read Kushner as he took the Vassar class of 2002 on a wild romp, delighting at every turn in calling Bush the devil, lapsing into Yiddish, and imploring the graduates to look inward, toward “the ideology you have
inherited and I hope transformed by living, and which with your psyche is the prism through which your self or soul is refracted, the light and air baffle, which your flame or the smoke from your smouldering traverses to reach the exterior world.” Oy. And that is the extent of the Yiddish I know into which I might lapse. Then Jonathan Alpert came along with his petty, ill-conceived, and ill-published New York Times op-ed attack on psychoanalysis, and made my day. I thought, yes! I can take him down. I can make mincemeat of him. We can make a pie and have him for dessert. With some reflection, though, I understood that was not my job. Besides, others have already ably done just that. No, my job was to block his cheap shot. He is likely not the first hater you have faced, nor will he be the last. But tonight I get to be your big brother and dole out some advice. I do so because Alpert does not know what it takes to sit where you sit. He does not know how our fingers bleed as we tailor tiny stitches. He does not know what it means to hold a life as it comes undone, to work toward reformulating a life, toward reintegration and repair. He does not know your courage, and because he does not know your courage, he does not know your fear. He thinks that his brash braying, his goals, his action will undo the grief that comes with the territory human. A bipolar patient will leave for Buenos Aries on vacation and never return, the new moon will float like a rib at the edge of night, your nephew will end up in rehab for the second time, and your next patient is in the waiting room. There will be days and days when you feel that the best you have done has been blank and suspicious, stars supernova like diamond broaches in a queen’s black safe, your mother will call, her best friend has died, and your next patient is in the waiting room. An adolescent will cut herself and call you from a street corner, the great globe spins, lava pours from shelf to shelf, your best friend will date a guy who smells of cigarettes and too much money, and your next patient is in the waiting room. With a gush of doubt, half of your hours will suddenly be unfilled, elk are chased by wildfires, antlers pink with flame, your father-in-law will get lost on his way home from the grocery store, and your next patient is in the waiting room. All of these things will happen. I am telling you because Jonathan Alpert cannot; like Rousseau, he is too 36
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proud and self-sufficient. From his coach’s bench he cannot see, as you can see, the subtle and excessively enigmatic human. He cannot feel the ego’s crumbling skeleton, weakened by its crushing brutality. He cannot meet the ego’s hand as it reaches for the delicate rapture of recognition and repair. A young father can now take his developmentally disabled son to the park, the moon, that baby’s rib, hangs now between Jupiter and Venus, your nephew graduates from college, and your next patient is in the waiting room. A child draws the Little Mermaid and you swimming along a shoreline, he hands you the picture, and in a sidelong glance you know that together you have completed your work, the rogue wisteria vine unfurls outside your window, the one your neighbor tried to kill, and the paradox of its droopy, lazy, grapey lavender and its fierce will to live carry you through a sleepy afternoon, your daughter gives birth to twin girls, and your next patient is in the waiting room. A middle-aged man arrives with his cello and plays a Bach sonata, you have been waiting for this moment for seven years, the tide comes in, working its graphite magic around the long abandoned pilings, your beloved friend has her hip replaced and you walk together across her apartment, she fears she might fall, instead you fall into laughter, and in that crevice of enigmatic transfer you lapse into an imitation of two elderly aunts, the laughter takes you over as it will, as it must, and your next patient is in the waiting room. All of these things will happen. I am telling you so that you will know to take care of yourself. Keep Advil, stamps, and a bar of good chocolate in your desk drawer. Keep strong coffee, peppermint tea, and a bottle of good scotch in the kitchenette. Oh, and cashews. I might not be standing here if it weren’t for cashews. Keep your physical therapist, your trusted consultants, and a friend who is sure to make you laugh on speed dial. Keep a voodoo doll handy for those times when United Health Care puts you on hold for, like, forever. Spend too much money on lingerie. Take a walk around the block. Kiss the sky. Vote. Play the piano. Buy flowers. Don’t do the dishes, and have sex on a Wednesday night. Cancel the afternoon and go to your daughter’s fifth-grade play. When your patient cancels, read Elizabeth Bishop instead of Betty Joseph. Stretch. All of these things will happen.
I am telling you so that you will know to take care of one another. Form study groups, even if you just sit around and gossip. Call each other in the middle of the day. Teach, supervise, write, and then get out and dance. Contest the ways in which psychoanalytic practice has a creeping creepy way of shrinking the human. Read Proust together. Make stronger coffee, and read Lacan. Bring out the scotch and tackle
Beckett. Buy your suitemate’s favorite cookies. Start a new journal. Lay claim to your generation’s voice. Teach us. Go to yoga. Audit classes. Send a young colleague a fullfee patient. Help Lew. Worship Shelley. Sit Shiva. Host baby showers. March. Present cases to one another, and revel in the widening reverie. The gray will come sure enough. Time’s arrow pierces us all. Lucky we, we
know how to attend to wounds. Protect what you know, fight for what you know. Be loud if need be. But most of all, seek to preserve how we know that there is undivided being between us. Hold tight to that potential space not only in your consulting room, not only as the great globe spins, but also with us, your welcoming community. Hold tight this night’s widening happiness. It is much deserved. Congratulations. z
About Unconscious in Translation Sex is important. That was clear to me early on: important and different from other desires. I was, however, puzzled both by the importance and by the difference, but I expected all would become clear in my analytic training. It didn’t play that way. After reading and re-reading Freud and others, I was more confused than ever. The epiphany which answered some of my questions while allowing me—or forcing me—to frame more questions about sexuality (to problematize it) came when I was introduced to the work of Jean Laplanche. To help myself understand Laplanche’s thinking I retranslated the classic 1965 essay he wrote with J.-B. Pontalis: “Fantasy and the Origins of Sexuality” (Fantasme originaire. Fantasmes des origines, origines du fantasme). I sent Laplanche my efforts, he replied with encouragement, and so began the process which led to the creation of a new publishing house: Unconscious in Translation (UIT). Outside of the Anglophone universe, Laplanche is widely recognized as providing
Jonathan HOUSE, General Editor, UIT
perhaps the most important, certainly the most coherent, theory of the nature and genesis of infantile sexuality. Within our community, his work has been largely unknown, and even those who admire his work and who see the need to place their own theorizing in relation to his often understand Laplanche in terms of his early work rather than in terms of what he has written in the last 30 years. This is understandable as, until quite recently, almost nothing written after 1993 had been translated. UIT aims to fix that problem. We will publish English translations of all of his work. In addition to Laplanche, there are other important French psychoanalytic thinkers whose work remains mostly untranslated into English: theorists, clinicians, essayists, and some, such as J.-B. Pontalis, whose work, while completely accessible, cannot easily be categorized. The mission of UIT is to translate and publish as much as possible of this rich, often delightful body of work. We have begun with one by Laplanche and one by Pontalis: 37
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l Freud and the Sexual, which contains Laplanche’s essays from 2000 to 2006—it is a translation of Sexual: La Sexualité élargie au sens freudien—and l J.-B. Pontalis’s Brother of the Above— Frère du precedent—which was awarded the Prix Médici Essai in 2006. By the end of 2014 we expect to have published three more volumes of Laplanche’s work, a volume by Dominique Scarfone, and a volume by Christophe Dejours. These include: l Le Fourvoiement Biologi sant de la Sexulite Chez Freud by Laplanche; to be translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith, who translated The Language of Psychoanalysis in 1967 and, in 2013 for UIT, Pontalis’s Brother of the Above. l Between Seduction and Inspiration: Man by Laplanche, translated by Jeffrey Melhman, who also translated Laplanche’s 19xx Life and Death in Psychoanalysis. l Apréscoup by Laplanche, translated by Dorothée Bonnegal-Katz l Laplanche by Dominique Scarfone, translated by Dorothée Bonnegal-Katz, and l Le Corps d’abord by Christophe Dejours z
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Freud and the Sexual
Essays 2000toto2006 2006 Essaysfrom from 2000 “Freud and the Sexual ” is the English translation of Laplanche’s most recent volume: Sexual: La sexualité élargie au sens freudien which represents the culmination of his work. Laplanche’s late style is clear, direct, accessible, and often witty. TRANSLATED BY
John Fletcher, Jonathan House and Nick Ray PUBLISHED BY
Unconscious in Translation, New York
Unconscious in Translation
is new collection which will publish English translations of literary and theoretical works connected with psychoanalysis and with the philosophy of mind. Under the direction of Jonathan House, the collection aims to publish important texts that otherwise have not been or would not be translated. Initially the focus will be on works originally written in French.
Forthcoming: Fall 2012: J.-B. Pontalis: “Brother of the Above” translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith. Initially published as Frère du précédent, this short book, part memoir, part psychoanalytic theory, part literary criticism, was awarded the Prix Medici Essai in 2006. Already scheduled for 2013 and 2014: Jean Laplanche: • Entre séduction et inspiration: L’homme translated by Jeffrey Mehlman (2013) • Problématiques VI: Après-coup translated by Dorothée BonigalKatz (2014) • Problématiques VII: Le fourvoiement biologisant de la sexualité chez Freud translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith (2013) Christophe Dejours: • Le corps d’abord translated by Sophie Leighton (2013) Dominique Scarfone: • Laplanche translated by Dorothée Bonigal-Katz (2013)
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NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS Kyle Arnold is a psychologist at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. He is currently preparing a psychobiographical study of Philip K. Dick entitled The Electric Double, to be published by Oxford University Press. Ghislaine Boulanger is on the faculty of the NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis and in private practice in New York. She is the author of Wounded by Reality: Understanding and Treating Adult Onset Trauma (Analytic Press, 2007) and articles describing the psychodynamic consequences and treatment for those surviving massive psychic trauma. Dana L. Castellano is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Boulder, CO. She is Secretary of Division 39 and an active member of several of its committees and task forces, including the Committee on Psychoanalysis and the Humanities. She teaches and supervises for the Boulder Institute for Psychotherapy and Research. Ken Corbett is Clinical Assistant Professor at the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. He has a private practice in New York City, and supervises nationally. His writings and interviews about gender, sexuality, art, and psychotherapy appear in academic journals as well as magazines, newspapers, websites, and on television. William Fried is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in addition to a photographer. Dr. Fried is a member and on the faculty of the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research and is past president of Section 1, Division 39. He practices psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in Manhattan. He is a contributing editor of DIVISION/Review. Adrienne Harris is faculty and supervisor at NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis; faculty and a supervising analyst at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California (PINC). She is an associate editor of Psychoanalytic Dialogues and is a contributing editor of DIVISION/Review. Her book, Gender as Soft Assembly, was published by Routledge in 2004. Laurence Hegarty is an artist and psychotherapist based in New York City. Examples of his work can be seen at LaurenceHegarty.com Jonathan House teaches at Columbia University’s Institute for Comparative Literature and Society and also at Columbia’s Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. He is a member of the Conseil Scientifique of the Fondation Laplanche and practices psychiatry and psychoanalysis in New York City.
David Lichtenstein is the Editor of DIVISION/ Review. He is a supervising analyst of the ApresCoup Psychoanalytic Association and is in private practice in New York City.
Henry M. Seiden is the Chair of the Publications Committee of Division 39 and a contributing editor (On Poetry) of DIVISION/Review. He maintains a private practice in Queens, NY.
Marvin H. Lipkowitz is retired from his chairmanship of the Dept. of Psychiatry at Maimonides Medical Center. In his younger years he underwent psychoanalytic training during which one of his supervisors was Dr. Max Schur.
Jeanine M. Vivona is a Professor of Psychology at the College of New Jersey and is a member of the editorial board of The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association as well as other psychoanalytic publications. She is in private practice in Bala Cynwyd, PA.
Ronald C. Naso is in independent practice in Stamford, CT. He is a consultant and supervisor in the Internship and Postdoctoral Fellowship training programs at the Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut. He is the author of numerous papers on psychoanalytic theory and practice and a recent book, entitled Hypocrisy Unmasked: Dissociation, Shame, and the Ethics of Inauthenticity, Aronson, 2010, and a contributing editor of DIVISION/Review. Tracy A. Prout is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, NY, and works with the Health Right International Human Rights Clinic. She is in private practice in New York City.
Mitchell Wilson is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, training and supervising analyst at the San Francisco Center for psychoanalysis, and is on the editorial board of several psychoanalytic journals. He teaches in the Bay Area and is in private practice in Berkeley, CA. Lynne Zeavin is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City. She is on the faculty of the Institute for Psychoanalytic Education at NYU Medical Center, an assistant clinical professor at NYU Medical Center, and a contributing editor of DIVISION/ Review. She is currently writing about the contemporary Kleinians.
Kim Rosenfield is a poet and psychotherapist. Her most recent analytic writing appears in Studies in Gender and Sexuality and her latest poetry book, USO: I’ll Be Seeing You, is published by Ugly Duckling Presse. She is a member of the international artists and writers collective Collective Task.
On the Photography of Alix Pearlstein Once relegated to a single monitor in a darkened room, media in both institutional and commercial art contexts has been spectacularized, eating up coveted wall space once reserved for objects and attracting an enraptured public. As we increasingly navigate a fragmented world of constructed realities in the palm of our hands or at MOMA, what lures us into stopping and watching? Perhaps it is something we recognize. Few artists hold my attention more than Alix Pearlstein, who has been producing media works since the early ’90s. Commissioned for specific art contexts, her video installations are a hybrid of performance art, experimental theater, commercial advertising, acting workshops, “reality” television, “games people play”–era encounter groups, and the hectic contactimprovization choreography that emerged out of instructional tendencies in postminimal art. Notably absent from this list is “cinema,” a deep category that other artists mine to exhaustion. Pearlstein’s performers are often an intergenerational mix of body types “acting out” scripted encounters, with the both the camera and its director participating in a maelstrom of action and language. The still photograph for Pearlstein is a byproduct of events orchestrated to mimic behavior and could operate as either pure document or promotional tool. Freezing the action in any Pearlstein production situates us between the highbrow (recalling Tina Barney’s anxious portraiture of the affluent) and the low (the furious, staged confrontations of daytime TV); set into motion, Alix Pearlstein’s group dynamics issue sparks across gallery walls, or screens. Alix Pearlstein is represented by On Stellar Rays www.onstellarrays.com www.alixpearlstein.com z Tim Maul 40
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