Friday, April 27, 2012

Murray Stein on Individuation

"The work of individuation proceeds in two movements, an analytic and a synthetic one. These are not sequential—first one, then the other—but rather take place in a rhythm specific to each individuation process. The analytic movement results in separation and differentiation; the synthetic movement builds up the transcendent function. Out of this process emerges an identity based on conscious and unconscious, personal and cultural (as well as archetypal) images and contents. Jungian analysis works in both directions through the analysis of identity and identifications, of transference contents and dynamics, of complexes and cultural assumptions as well as through the synthesis of emergent aspects of the self as they manifest in dreams, active imagination, and archetypal transference. The individuation process is lifelong and does not begin with entry into analysis or end with the termination of analysis." (p. 1)

Murray Stein (2005) Individuation: Inner Work, Journal of Jungian Theory and Practice, Vol. 7, #2, pp. 1-13.

Editors Note: Dr. Stein is a past-President of the International Association for Analytical Psychology, a founding member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts and Chicago Society of Jungian Analysts, and is presently the President of the International School of Analytical Psychology in Zurich.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oklander - Ferenczi's Influence on Field Theory in Psychoanalysis

"The analytic field is therefore a psychological fieldin Lewin's terms or an experiential fieldas defined by Merleau-Ponty, Pichon-Rivière, and the Barangerswhich is generated whenever two people meet in a closed room, in order to "do psychoanalysis." This implies certain conventional and social definition of the situation (the setting) as well as the physical, institutional, and social environment in which all of this takes place, which are usually kept tacit, unless some psychological event in the field makes them relevant and worthy of mention.

This complex psychological space is essentially dynamic; this means that every element within the field interacts with all the others, that its configuration evolves with time, and that its limits are also variable, expanding and contracting according to the fluctuations of feeling, thought, and meaning within the field.

Field Concepts In Psychoanalysis

That the analytic situation is always bipersonal would appear to be a truism: No one has ever denied that there are physically two persons present in every analysis. But the crux of the question is whether both of them actually determine the analytic process or whether it is determined only by the patient's contribution. Although Freud created the psychoanalytic device as the meeting of two people, each with his or her own particular task, his whole scientific perspective demanded that his descriptions should be framed in objective terms, that is, that they should describe the object of study as if the observer were not there at all (Tubert-Oklander, 2004). This resulted in a one-person theory, which described and explained the events that took place in the analytic situation solely as a manifestation of the patient's personality organization - his or her "mental apparatus" -thus assuming that the analyst was nothing but a neutral observer who had no incidence on the "material" under scrutiny.

The relational approach to psychoanalysis was truly inaugurated by Sándor Ferenczi, who conceived the psychoanalytic treatment as a veritable meeting of two minds. This implied an interweaving and mutual determination of transference and countertransference. He also emphasized the crucial role played by emotional experience, as the true basis of psychoanalytic discoveries (Ferenczi and Rank, 1924).

Nowadays, researchers tend to think of affects as a primitive form of communication among individuals, one that appears from the very beginning of life, long before the inception of language (Kernberg, 1976). It is certainly the only way in which a baby can influence and generate reactions in its mother that are appropriate to its needs (Bion, 1962). Emotion is, therefore, not only a private experience, but an event shared with other human beings - what we may call a communion. But because the gist of this process appears to be unconscious, it can only be truly comprehended as an inference from the inner experiences and the outer behavior of the parties involved.

This was obviously Ferenczi's view. In his clinical writingsespecially in his Clinical Diary of 1932 (Ferenczi, 1985), a private document that was not intended for publicationthe analyst's and the patient's mental processes freely intermingle, and their simultaneous unraveling enriches and deepens both parties' understanding, thus generating a true emotional insight. This he described in the following terms:

It is as if two half souls completed each other to form an unity. The analyst's feelings are threaded with the analysand's thoughts, and the analyst's thoughts (figurative representations), with the analysand's feelings. Thus the otherwise lifeless images become events, and the meaningless sentimental storms are filled with a representative content [p. 55, my translation]."

(pp. 118-119)

Juan Fiscalin Oklander, (2007). The Whole and the Parts. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, Vol. 17, pp. 115-132.

Monday, April 23, 2012


My apologies to the readers of The Psychoanalytic Muse.  Other professional commitments during the past two weeks have disrupted my regular routine of posting.  Routine posting should resume this week.  Thank you for your continued interest in this blog and the field of psychoanalytic thought.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mark Winborn - The Influence of Familiarity on Analysis

"I propose that familiarity is a particular aspect of the intersubjective field which emerges over time and begins to shape and influence the behaviours, perceptions, thoughts, and feelings of the participants. I also propose that it is an influence co-created (Eber 1990) in the field; it does not originate from the individual psyche of either the analyst or patient." (p. 189)

"I have proposed that the experience of familiarity is an affective state that can be utilized as a defence (defensive familiarity) against ‘analytic contact’ (Waska 2007) or in a manner facilitative of the analytic process (facilitative familiarity). Facilitative familiarity is associated with the positive aspects of familiarity (e.g., consistency, continuity, predictability) that help establish a sense of security in analysis. In practice, we can see states of familiarity along a continuum that extends from utility and facilitation to defensiveness and obstruction; with more optimal functioning of the dyad, there will be a fluctuation of states of familiarity and otherness in the field while at the other extreme there will be a fixed tone and sense of stuckness." (pp. 194-195)

"I have outlined a distinction between experiences of ‘facilitative familiarity’ which furthers the felt sense of security and trust in analysis and what I have termed ‘defensive familiarity’ – those states of familiarity which interfere with or otherwise disrupt the analytic process. It is facilitative familiarity states that provide the base from which the members of the dyad can face the disruption and conflict that may emerge as implicit states of defensive familiarity that come alive in the dyad. Engaging with states of familiarity in the analytic field is a complicated project fraught with ambivalence. In many instances,the familiar feels warm, comfortable, predictable, or safe and an analysis can’t proceed without the presence of these elements that help to build a secure base; however, they engender feelings that can be difficult for the analyst to question or relinquish, even in the service of greater analytic depth; and the patient may also be reluctant to examine the experience of familiarity too closely, perhaps fearing to venture into riskier psychic territory. The patient may also hear our attempts at exploring the feelings of familiarity as an indication that they aren’t doing therapy correctly, feeling criticized in the process of the exploration. These are some of the shared emotional dilemmas that may be encountered as the analyst and patient attempt to mutually engage experiences of defensive familiarity. Reading the implicit communication on the face and in the body, voice and feeling tone will be important to this process as will awareness of states of match and mis-match during analytic interactions.

I am not advocating the adoption of a stance of formality as a means of avoiding a sense of familiarity, nor am I advocating any attempt to avoid the feeling of familiarity in the analytic setting. I think the danger for analytic work is not the feeling of familiarity itself but the lack of sufficient consideration for how it affects our various analytic relationships. Obviously, it is not possible or desirable to defend against or attempt to diminish the influence of the familiar on an analysis, but by considering the variety of ways it can influence an analysis, we can become more conscious of this phenomenon. My aim is to bring the feeling of familiarity, as an emergent aspect of the transference/countertransference field of many analytic relationships, to the foreground for consideration."'
(p. 202)

Mark Winborn (2012) The Shadow of Familiarity: A contributor to the intersubjective field. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 57, pp.187–206

Monday, April 9, 2012

Rosemary Gordon - Transference as a Fulcrum of Analysis

The most recent volume of the Journal of Analytical Psychology contained the death announcement of Dr. Rosemary Gordon who was a prominent author/editor within the field of Analytical Psychology and an influential member of the Society of Analytical Psychology in London. She died on January 15th, 2012 at the age of 92.

"The value of transference analysis is, I think, intimately linked up with its potentiality for stimulating the development of the symbolizing process, or, as Jung has called it, of the transcendent function. This function enables the psyche to form and to relate to symbols. Symbols act as bridges between pairs of opposites and so link the conscious to the unconscious, the strange to the familiar, soma to psyche, and the fragment to the whole. Francis Bacon has regarded myths or ‘fables’ as ‘a transparent veil occupying the "middle" region that separates what has perished from what survives’. One might say that analysis strives to help a patient develop such a middle region, so that, as in the case of my patient, what has perished (i.e., the quarrelling parents of the past) will cease to be confused with what survives (i.e., the patient himself who needs to gain access to his potential to grow and to create).

When ‘transference’ rather than ‘true’ relationship predominates then the symbolic function has most likely remained immature. For then past and present cannot yet be seen as both related and different, nor can the object perceived be recognized as other or more than the object desired or feared. In a previous paper I have suggested that the transcendent function can develop only when a person has become able to confront three major life problems: death, mourning and separation, and greed.

The very context and circumstances of analysis inevitably evoke these fundamental anxieties—which the history of the patient may have made too overwhelming and unbearable for him to contain. Through the constancy and reliability of the analyst, the rhythm of his presence and of his absence, and the perception, verbalization and interpretation of the fears, rages, loves and hates the patient experiences, the disintegrating ferociousness of these anxieties may be diminished sufficiently so that then true symbolization can develop..."
(p. 114)

"To summarize:
1. The concept of transference has been accepted as valid and valuable but each generation of analysts hopes to use it with increasing skill and perceptivity in the analytic process.

2. Transference analysis can be regarded as lived-through active imagination. Its goal is the forging of links between inner and outer world through the development of the transcendent function.

3. Interesting parallels suggest themselves between the discoveries and goals of transference analysis and Martin Buber's concept of the ‘I-It’ and the ‘I-Thou’ attitudes. The ‘I-It’ attitude I have suggested corresponds to transference relationship, while in the ‘I-Thou’ attitude a whole subject encounters or relates not to an object, but to another whole subject."
(p. 116)

Rosemary Gordon (1968). Transference as a Fulcrum of Analysis. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 13, pp. 109-117

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Michael Eigen & Primary Aloneness

"D.W. Winnicott writes of essential aloneness made possible by unknown support. The baby is supported in an alone state by a not-quite-cognized presence. In the passages I wish to amplify, Winnicott points to an aloneness that precedes clear self-other cognition. The mother is there helping the baby but the baby may not take in the fact that another being distinct from him is keeping him in life. Among the passages in which Winnicott (1988) feels pressed to convey this paradox are the following:

'At the start is an essential aloneness. At the same time this aloneness can only take place under maximum conditions of dependence. Throughout the life of the individual there continues a fundamental unalterable inherent aloneness, along with which goes unawareness of the conditions that are essential to the state of aloneness. (p. 132)'

Whether or not Winnicott's time sequences turn out to be correct, there is, I feel, an important experience he tries to express. He uses a certain verbal latitude to touch and communicate this experience and I will take liberties too. What is at stake is a psychic reality of great import, a precious piece of our beings that we must take time to live our way into and, simply, to live.

An aloneness that is supported by another one doesn't know is there. A primary aloneness supported by an unknown boundless other. To think that aloneness has in its very core a sense of an unknown infinite other - no wonder Winnicott says so much depends on the quality of environmental being and response. The very quality of our aloneness depends on it.

I personally experience something sacred in this core. I think Winnicott did also. Our lives tap into a sense of holiness connected with a background aura of infinite unknown support. That such an implicit sense exists offers no guarantees about how we use it. When the support basic aloneness needs cracks, vanishes or is threatened, emergent self-feeling veers towards cataclysm.

Chronic self-hardening may be an important part of individuation, but a price is paid. Basic aloneness mutates and splinters, and the cataclysm one hoped to dissolve is embedded in character. We have a lot to say about character and cataclysm in ourselves and in the world. But our concern in this paper is to support a thread of peace that Winnicott calls to our attention."
(pp. 63-64)


"Initially, I spoke of the baby's sense of unknown boundlessness, but in the preceding passages Winnicott writes that the dependence he touches does not sense its dependence. Neither sensing nor perception of dependence arises at this stage. Perhaps there is an implicit rather than an explicit sense of unknown boundlessness. At some point, I feel there is. Yet I take Winnicott to heart when he says that the point of experience he touches here does not sense dependence, even if dependence is present. To be dependent without sensing it and to be supported in being by that unsensed, unknown dependence - this is a radical statement with many ramifications. As I live my way into it, I feel freer. To be totally supported by unknown support includes an area of experience that is exquisitely, thrillingly beautiful. A piece of the peace that passeth understanding.

Winnicott's is a peace that reaches towards and from the aloneness of an incommunicado core. It supports that core by its own incommunicado being. It creates a background for the history of aloneness throughout a person's life. For aloneness, too, has biography. Threads of aloneness reach forward, some of them into a oneness of awareness. Awareness sports immense diversity but shares a common thread. The iteration of being aware, an implicit awareness of being in every speck of consciousness, is a kind of oneness, if only a oneness of something like sameness that unites human being. We love or hate our differences but one mind runs through them. One, that is, if one counts that high. All-one, all alone, all one in aloneness, brothers and sisters, shared humanity.

We grow into shared aloneness as a precious state of being, a privileged state among others, in which sharing is in the aloneness, and aloneness is in the sharing. In dipping in, some of us discover new levels and qualities of caring. For some, dipping in is more than enough.
" (pp. 67-68)

Michael Eigen (2008). Primary Aloneness. Psychoanalytic Perspectives, Vol. 5, pp. 63-68