Monday, May 13, 2013
Judith Hubback - Deintegration and the Mutative Factor
"Many adult people seeking analytical therapy in Britain these days are suffering from the results of deep disturbances which started in infancy, or even earlier, so that increasingly analysts have had to work on the basic structural defects, the sickness of the primary self. Inevitably much attention has been given, on behalf of those patients, to the analytic problems surrounding regression to infancy states, so that Fordham's work on the primary self is of central importance. The research for which he is perhaps best known was on children and babies, and it is mainly from work on infancy that the concept of deintegration was launched into the corpus of theories in analytical psychology. For those of us who work with adults it has proved very valuable: the concept throws light on many experiences with them when they are in, and emerging from, regressive primitive states.
Since putting forward many years ago the idea that the self functions not only integratively but that it can de-integrate, Fordham has written about this often. His latest book contains a number of elucidations which draw together his early thesis and his developments of it (FORDHAM 2). In the search for how change is set going, reference can be made to his thinking, in order to test out its applicability to day by day clinical work. He writes (1) that in 1947 ‘I postulated a primary state of integration expressed in the infant's individuality, continuity of being and adaptive capacity' (p. 31); (2), ‘the self is no longer conceived of as a static structure, instead the steady state represents one phase in a dynamic sequence: integration is followed by deintegration, which in turn leads to a new integrate. The sequence is conceived to repeat throughout life and lies at the root of maturational development’ (p. 102); and (3) ‘the states arising from deintegration are often unadapted in the first place, since they arise when a new development is required under the stress of internal or external dynamisms’ (p. 119).
Time and again Fordham stressed the normal healthy infant's inborn capacity to adapt to the mother, and to activate her to adapt to her infant. The infant's adaptation is not mere acquiescence with the environmental demands and realities; Fordham sees it as including in a more important way an infant's capacity to bring influence to bear on outer reality, and to master that area of it in which he finds himself. The infant is making sense gradually of the inner and outer world. If we view the self in its primal state (as compared with the classical Jungian later-in-life-individuated-self) we see it as a body-psyche integrate. Jung conceptualised libido as consisting of energy bound up in such an integrate; libido in the primary self is neutral; it contains both a loving and creative driving possibility and an attacking and destructive one. The concept of deintegration takes both into account.
In patients whose interactions with their analyst are at times steady and benevolent, and a few sessions later are fraught with envious attacks, we can detect within the fact of the deintegrative process the different qualities or characteristics of the two contrasted driving energies, loving calmly and attacking fiercely. The regression is to early infancy within the transference and—if the analytic container is strong enough—only within the sessions. The swings from calmness to attack have to be tolerated. In such phases of an analysis the analyst has to use the model of the unanxious mother who tolerates her infant's swings from steadiness to agitation, and combine that with the analytic understanding that agitation and attack are the forms in which the process of deintegration manifests itself. Since patients often describe themselves as feeling that they are ‘going to pieces’, or ‘falling apart’ under the impact of more stress than they think they can bear, analysts know they have to work in such a way as to enable that fear to be lived with while the patient experiences change and development as in fact acceptable. The loss of the previous steady state can be integrated when the patient deepens his or her understanding that these fearful times do not have to be gone through alone: the presence of the other dispels the fundamental terror of abandonment, which is perhaps the ultimate loss (‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’).
An essential aspect of the states and phases being discussed here is that the analyst and the patient are each still aware of being the people they are, of the continuity of the sessions and of the changes that the process entails. Their distinctiveness as individuals is maintained; fusion, if it occurs, in the course of the kind of experiences I am describing, is not facilitating. Very similarly to how the infant gradually discovers (as Jacobson wrote) that it is in contact with someone different from itself as well as distinct, so the patient benefits by the analyst not being drawn into an identification. Full empathy on the part of the analyst and emotional contact of a very deep kind do not entail loss of the essential boundaries. The ends of the sessions may be very painful and difficult for both people, but they make possible the acceptance of developmental differentiation. There is, I think, a close parallel between what is observable in a very elementary form in the young infant's discovery that the mother is different from itself, and what is experienced countless times during the working through in painful analytical therapy." (pp. 248-250)
Judith Hubback (1987). Change as a Process in the Self. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 32, pp. 241-255