Friday, July 29, 2011

Joseph Cambray on the relationship between archetypes, empathy, synchronicity and emergence theory

Joe Cambray is the current president of the International Association for Analytical Psychology.

"As noted, in terms of symmetry in psychological systems, empathy permits a temporary symmetrizing, linking Self and Other (person or object) in a unifying field. For therapeutically useful psychological reflection to emerge from this state of immersion a breaking of the transitory symmetrization will need to occur eventually. This can then lead to the full emergence of empathic understanding. Empathy then is a connecting principle that links us to our world in ways that feel deeply meaningful, especially when we can step back and reflect on our experience (that is, upon breaking the symmetry). As we have seen, the causes that activate the empathic systems are often unconscious with a psychoid quality, that is, beyond our capacity for awareness and can feel as an acausal coincidence. Therefore, I suggest that there can be a synchronistic field dimension to our empathic experiences . . . One of the most distinctive aspects of C. G. Jung’s model of the psyche is his postulation of a core level, the collective unconscious, operating underneath the personal conscious and unconscious aspects of the mind. This deeper layer is comprised of the network of all archetypes, where archetypes are the formal patterns, without content, the universal propensities of psychological life capable of expressing themselves across the spectrum of human experience from the instinctual to the sublime. When realized concretely, archetypes manifest through affect-laden images of a transpersonal nature, often with a numinous quality. As discussed in chapter 3, there is a scale-free or fractal quality . . . we can note that this mirroring "net" metaphorically offers the viewer a wholly interconnected universe, in which all of the parts are interdependent and mutually conditioned. These tenets also form the core of a holistic, emergentist viewpoint, ascendancy in the analytic world. As previously mentioned, Jung presaged this network model in various remarks about the interwovenness of the archetypes in the psyche, the deepest source of human patterns and hence, implicit, the source of all wisdom . . . In the language of Jungian psychology, the energizing or activation of an archetypal node is frequently referred to as a particular pattern having "constellated," for example, the propensity to face adversity with determination to vanquish it may reflect the constellation of a heroic archetype in a person’s life. However, such activations by their nature are transgressive of any view of a person as a wholly isolated entity; inner and outer environments are necessarily part of the full pattern, also in accord with the finding on mirror neurons. At deeper levels the psyche is not a closed system but opens into a field of interactions among individuals, a network with strong and weak links that can become self-organizing." (pp. 80-82)

Joseph Cambray (2009) Synchronicity: Nature and Psyche in an Interconnected Universe. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Danielle Quinodoz (et al) on the Audacity of Being a Psychoanalyst

Below are excerpts from throughout the paper which, taken together, form a meditation around the idea of audacity in the analytic process:

"The analyst has to find within him- or herself the audacity to be a psychoanalyst . . . Should analysts let their own minds resonate in tune with those of patients? In our work group, we tend to think that this may well be a first step towards a better understanding of the transference: letting oneself be taken over before being able to understand. Letting oneself go in this way may be proof not of negligence but of the analyst's involvement in a distressing moment during the session. It will in fact be easier to do this if there have been previous similar occasions on which the analyst has managed to break free of such situations; with an appropriate degree of confidence in their basic personality structure, analysts can find the audacity to do this . . . How can we find the necessary audacity to accept the unpredictability of psychoanalysis as well as its limitations, the audacity to express our difficulties and our failures?. . . If I myself dare to be an analyst, perhaps supervisees, through introjective identification, will discover in themselves the audacity to be analysts too . . . Daring to be a psychoanalyst does not demand any spectacular degree of audacity, but a much more modest everyday kind, one that may go unnoticed because it later seems quite natural. Nevertheless, psychoanalysts have to accomplish some deep internal processing before they can perceive in all simplicity what is going on inside them in the encounter with the patient in an analytic session. In our work group, we realized just how difficult it could be in that solitude we share only with ourselves to do away with an attitude of pretentiousness and become aware of feelings inside us of which we disapprove. How are we to dare to listen to our countertransference feelings without unconsciously censoring those that appear to be negative? How are we to dare to accept patients whose anxieties and difficulties remind us of our own? How are we to dare to enter, even momentarily, into certain worlds that seem to us to be completely mad, the better to understand them? That audacity is possible only if we can accept not only the limitations of psychoanalysis but also those that are within ourselves. This implies that, whatever the stage we have reached in our professional development, we have to admit to ourselves not only our successes but also our difficulties and our failures in order to be able to learn from them; it implies also that we have the courage to discuss these with our colleagues."

Quinodoz, Danielle; Candy, Aubry; Olivier Bonard; Genevieve DeJussel & Bernard Reith. (2006) Being a Psychoanalyst: An Everyday Audacity. Inter. J. of Psychoanalysis . Vol. 87, pp. 329-347.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Beebe, Cambray, and Kirsch on Individuation and Ethics

"At the core of Jung's approach to psychological treatment is his belief that clinical analysis catalyzes a natural developmental process that wants to take place anyway. If the work on the patient's complexes is pursued diligently in a spirit of honest dialogue, it may be rewarded by the patient's willingness to enter a dialectical relationship to the unconscious. Out of such a relationship, not only the resolution of conflict between ego and unconscious but also the energy-laden symbols that foster individuation are likely to emerge. None of this relieves the patient from responsibility for an ethical life. Rather, individuation moves toward the consciousness that enables an ethical standpoint to develop." (p. 239)

John Beebe, Joseph Cambray and Thomas Kirsch (2001). What Freudians Can Learn From Jung. Psychoanalytic Psychology, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 213-242

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Anton Hart on the Analyst's Disruptive Role in Analysis

"The analyst presents the unsettling prospect of intimacy in her refusal to comply with the prohibitions against alive or authentic exchange. As intimacy increases, self-protective, stasis-maintaining illusions and simplifications are jeopardized. This is a kind of violation that we have come in analysis to regard as vital, because it creates a potential space in each moment, making new experience possible. The analyst blows down the hiding places, the relief from anxiety associated with contact with other and exposure of self. The analyst tries to speak and to listen without including the common, implicit communication in the quality of the speaking or listening that "all of this is already known." As such, the analyst violates fundamental, anxiety-controlling tenets of social discourse: to wit, there will be no surprises, all that is said comes from the lexicon of the familiar, there will be no significant impact by one person upon another.

The analyst disrupts by trying to remain alert, present in the moment, and able to think associatively while the analysand steers the analyst toward becoming dull, remote, or associatively barren. The act of associative listening involves such violation. Simply to hear the analysand speak, with a distinction in mind between manifest (defensively rendered) and latent communication, is an inherently disruptive act; it says, "I will not abide by the rules that your communication dictates. I will not comply with the instructions on how I should listen to what you are saying that are incorporated into its form. I'll look for what's missing or obscured from both the narrator and the listener. I'll regard what is said as a communication about what is happening between us, rather than something out there." Ideally, such associative listening on the analyst's part invites similar listening on the part of the analysand. Similarly, alertness or interpersonal "presence" in the face of unconscious attempts to engender deadness or remoteness amounts to a disruptive, interpersonal "disobedience" on the analyst's part.

In a sense, putting the unformulated into words through interpretation amounts to a violation. Traditionally, we have thought of analysis as contributing to a developmental process in the analysand involving the acquisition of symbols. There are, however, forms of loss associated with the analytic process of giving language to presymbolic emotional experience. Analysands lose what I would refer to as the "safety of autism." By this I mean that regardless of how anxious or troubled the analysand's inner life may be, a measure of safety is invariably obtained by being incommunicado, without the threat of the other's mind. The analyst's symbolizing presence threatens free reign of dissociation, numbing, forgetting, psychogenic confusion, pseudo-stupidity, and many other means of self-management. As the analyst introduces language for experiences, the analyst intrudes on the analysand's private safety. Now experience that had been left disconnected is potentially connectable. Dreaded experience is no longer nameless, no longer isolated, no longer easily forgotten. The analysand is left with a problem he had previously been able to not know he had.

The analyst violates with inquiring. The questions that comprise a detailed inquiry persistently violate the analysand's given understanding of herself. The questions do this, not by advocating an alternate explanation, but by revealing the limits of the current, defensively impoverished rendition. Relentless "pursuit of the particular" (Levenson, 1991) makes it increasingly difficult for the analysand to maintain vague, stereotypical notions about her experience of self and other; her ability to avoid encountering her own subjectivity is thus diminished.

The analyst disrupts by behaving in ways that simultaneously replicate and alter the analysand's historically established interpersonal script. Inevitably, the analyst will become involved in enacting patterns with the analysand which resonate with patterns of relationships in the analysand's developmental history (Levenson, 1983, 1991). But the analyst tries to "work his way out" of the enactment (Levenson, 1991). The analysand is no longer able to cling to his understanding of the predictable nature of interpersonal experience. The analyst's participation leads to the analysand's being confronted with the extent to which he had unwittingly narrowed his life.

The analyst interferes by considering all of the analysand's communications to be comments on the transference, at least in part, even when the analysand regards this as strange or disturbing. Attunement to the transference (and countertransference) amounts to a subversive form of meaning making that is at the heart of the analytic process. It is a consistent feature of the analyst's role the she is invited away from thinking about the process in terms of the transference-countertransference matrices by the analysand who persistently pulls for relational experience to remain unformulated. The analysand is, at best, ambivalent about such analyst's "pursuits" because they threaten to hinder defense and expose heartfelt desire.

I see my objective as an analyst as to challenge the analysand's inclination to distance himself from his own unpredictable subjectivity. I seek to disrupt through my unwillingness to collude with the analysand's invitation to avoid listening, thinking, and contact. The generative disruption I try to foster in analysis consists of my trying to clear the way for the spontaneous and the irrational, setting their creative forces against the analysand's (and my) defensive tendencies to remain unchanged and 'intact.'"
(pp. 191-193)

Anton Hart (1999). Reclaiming The Analyst's Disruptive Role. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Vol. 35, pp. 185-211.

Friday, July 15, 2011

James Hollis on the Importance of Mythological Knowledge in Analysis

"Myth is expressed 1) through dramatized tribal value systems, 2) through personal histories, and 3) in symptoms and complexes. No analysand will be unaffected—perhaps wounded, perhaps supported — by tribal dramas. Thus, juxtaposing the individuation imperatives of that person within the collective force field is a powerful therapeutic indicia for change, for choice, and for bringing psychic tasks to consciousness.

Who can work with the amanuensis without a sense of mythopoesis, without an awareness that this person swims in a value-laden force field which presents as concrete history but is captive to archaic dramas: the abandoned child, the wounded hero, the sacrificial lamb, and so on? Such acquired force fields usurp the agenda of the Self and bring about recurrent and predictable patterns. If both therapist and analysand are ignorant of such mythic materials, how can enlargement beyond fate occur?

Just as Jung called complexes splinter personalities, so one may call symptoms and complexes splinter, or fractile, mythologies. Each has a core energic structure, each has valence, each has an identity, each has a fractionated agenda. When evoked, each has a tendency toward the repetition compulsion, and yet each is an opening to the dynamics of pathology and a clue to the healing agenda obliged. Again, how can depth psychology be performed without a knowledge of the essential mythopoetic process of psyche?

My experience of training has suggested that most candidates are hungry for this sort of work, because it does touch them in a place where they have always lived but for which little recognition is offered. The others are merely perplexed and opaque. I have often wondered how we as trainers can perform our office if we fail to examine: 1) our personal mythic substructure which has brought each of us to this place, 2) what Hillman rightly called "the myth of analysis," 3) the mythic force field in which we move when we undertake training, and 4) where the gods really are in all this business.

As Jung observed, our work is the hardest of all, to be psychological about psychology itself. This epistemological task is most difficult and elusive for it asks us to reflect on that which consciousness with its limited capacity cannot itself envision. And that is where the study of myth, which originates outside the sphere of consciousness, but not outside the psyche, becomes necessary."
(p. 16)

James Hollis (2004). Is Something Mything: A Question Inviting Re-membrance. Journal of Jungian Theory and Practice, Vol. 6, pp. 15-16.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Anna Aragno on Metaphor and Metapsychology

"In summary, the following are the main points psychoanalysis brings to the current status of our collective understanding of metaphor:

1. Just as metaphor pervades everyday thought and language, so is it an integral part of the processes, phenomena, and interpretive activities of the psychoanalytic situation. "Psychoanalysis is essentially a metaphorical enterprise" wrote Arlow (1979, p. 373); we listen metaphorically to capture and translate unconsciously enacted, felt, and fantasized meanings into linguistic form, again, "largely through the use of metaphor" (Arlow, 1979, p. 363).

2. As in all forms of symbolism, firm ego boundaries are required for metaphorical thought to be used and understood in discourse and in treatment. Traumatic and/or overwhelming affects and conflicts interfere with, and degrade, the capacity for entering that region of imaginal ideation where conceptual metaphor and meaningful symbolic communications can be exchanged. The restoration, or development, of this capacity—the loosening of concrete and literal thinking—plays an important part in the therapy of more
primitive pathologies.

3. Metaphors are conceptual and figurative, and only secondarily linguistic, involving affective, perceptual, kinetic, and cognitive input. The metaphorical process lies between the primary and secondary processes, and is the central activity in the selection and integration of affective, mnemonic, perceptual, and kinetic registrations and stimuli in the process of dream construction, so that "Affects, metaphor, and memory form a synergistic, unified system." (Modell, 1997, p. 220).

4. Psychoanalysis specifically introduces a temporal dimension to the idea of the transfer of meaning from one thing to something else, in that the something else becomes "in terms of another time: the present is understood in terms of the past, the past in terms of the present" (Borbely, 1998, p. 925). Moreover, we look through and into metaphorical constructs in order to see and understand psychic reality, whereas metaphors usually work directionally the other way around, from organic experience to a perceptual reality (Enkell, 2001).

5. In conjunction with cognitive science, we recognize that metaphor includes a series of mechanisms designed to process and integrate new patterns, as in making correspondences, or finding the familiar in the unfamiliar; "The perceptual and motor apparatus serve memory by means of a scanning process in which there is an attempt to match current experience with old memory categories" wrote Modell (1997, p. 221). By figuring or pointing to one thing while meaning another, we accommodate experience and organize reality (Arlow, 1979).

6. Metaphor is implicated in all creative thought: It is the vehicle of novelty and new meaning in art, poetry, and science, alike, an "instrument through which to express something that cannot be captured in any other way" (Enkell, 2001, p. 236). Not surprisingly, metaphors come in various types: there are those that are playful, creative, and expansive, others that are "fixed, unambiguous foreclosed and unchanging" (Modell, 1997, p. 220). There are banal, communal, cultural, conventional, root, idiosyncratic, poetic, and theoretical metaphor varieties; metaphors that are orientational, ontological, organic, mechanic, and anthropomorphizing; those that carry collective weight and those that never make it to full form. The symptom or illness as metaphor is a somatic affect-equivalent expressing an unconscious plaint that cannot find another means of representation. Some metaphors are hung on metonymic hooks (Modell, 1997), others, fastidiously contrived, that sink. Let us not confuse the metaphoric eruptions of the personal dream with those of the consummate poet; though spun from the same spool each weaves a very different cloth, the former spontaneous but rough-hewn, the latter a skillfully brocaded tapestry." (p. 35)

Anna Aragno (2009).  Meaning's Vessel: A Metapsychological Understanding of Metaphor.  Psychoanalytic Inquiry. Vol. 29, pp. 30-47. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

C.G. Jung on Libido and Instinct

"The energic standpoint has the effect of freeing psychic energy from the bonds of a too narrow definition.  Experience shows that instinctual processes of whatever kind are often intensified to an extraordinary degree by an afflux of energy, no matter where it comes from.  This is true not only of sexuality but of hunger and thirst too.  One instinct can temporarily be depotentiated in favour of another instinct, and this is true of psychic activities in general.  To assume that it is always and only sexuality which is subject to these depotentiations would be a sort of psychic equivalent of the phlogiston theory in physics and chemistry.  Freud himself was somewhat sceptical about the existing theories of instinct, and rightly so.  Instinct is a very mysterious manifestation of life, partly psychic and partly physiological by nature.  It is one of the most conservative functions in the psyche and is extremely difficult, if not impoossible, to change.  Pathological maladjustments, such as the neuroses, are therefore more easily explained by the patient's attitude to instinct than by a sudden change in the latter.  But the patient's attitude is a complicated psychological problem, which it would certainly not be if his attitude depended on instinct.  The motive forces at the back of neurosis come from all sorts of congenital characteristics and environmental influences, which together build up an attitude that makes it impossible for him to lead a life in which the instincts are satisfied." (pp. 138-139)

C.G. Jung (1952/1956). Symbols of Transformation.  The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 5.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hanna Segal on Symbol Formation

Hanna Segal (1918-2011) - long-time student and supporter of Melanie Klein's perspective on psychoanalysis - died on July 6th at the age of 93.

"The symbol proper, available for sublimation and furthering the development of the ego, is felt to represent the object; its own characteristics are recognized, respected, and used. It arises when depressive feelings predominate over the paranoid-schizoid ones, when separation from the object, ambivalence, guilt, and loss can be experienced and tolerated. The symbol is used not to deny but to overcome loss. When the mechanism of projective identification is used as a defence against depressive anxieties, symbols already formed and functioning as symbols may revert to symbolic equations.

Symbol formation governs the capacity to communicate, since all communication is made by means of symbols. When schizoid disturbances in object relations occur, the capacity to communicate is similarly disturbed: first because the differentiation between the subject and the object is blurred, secondly because the means of communication are lacking since symbols are felt in a concrete fashion and are therefore unavailable for purposes of communication. One of the ever-recurring difficulties in the analysis of psychotic patients is this difficulty of communication. Words, for instance, whether the analyst's or the patient's, are felt to be objects or actions, and cannot be easily used for purposes of communication.

Symbols are needed not only in communication with the external world, but also in internal communication. Indeed, it could be asked what is meant when we speak of people being well in touch with their unconscious. It is not that they have consciously primitive phantasies, like those which become evident in their analyses, but merely that they have some awareness of their own impulses and feelings. However, I think that we mean more than this; we mean that they have actual communication with their unconscious phantasies. And this, like any other form of communication, can only be done with the help of symbols. So that in people who are 'well in touch with themselves' there is a constant free symbol-formation, whereby they can be consciously aware and in control of symbolic expressions of the underlying primitive phantasies. The difficulty of dealing with schizophrenic and schizoid patients lies not only in that they cannot communicate with us, but even more in that they cannot communicate with themselves. Any part of their ego may be split off from any other part with no communication available between them.

The capacity to communicate with oneself by using symbols is, I think, the basis of verbal thinkingwhich is the capacity to communicate with oneself by means of words. Not all internal communication is verbal thinking, but all verbal thinking is an internal communication by means of symbols—words." (pp. 395-396)

Hanna Segal (1957). Notes on Symbol Formation. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, Vol. 38, pp. 391-397