Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cortina and Liotti - The Relationships between Attachment and Intersubjectivity

Abstract: The relationships between intersubjectivity and attachment are beginning to be explored within the psychoanalytic and developmental literature. We contribute to this comparative effort by exploring the different evolutionary origins of attachment and intersubjectivity. Five interlocking themes are central to this article. First, from an evolutionary perspective, attachment and intersubjectivity serve different functions. The main function of attachment is to seek protection, whereas the main function of intersubjectivity is to communicate, at intuitive and automatic levels, with members of the same species and to facilitate social understanding. Second, to survive in changing and highly competitive environments, an evolutionary strategy emerged among our human ancestors based on developing high levels of cooperation within small bands of hunters and gatherers. In turn, high levels of cooperation and social complexity put selective pressures toward developing effective modes of communication and more complex forms of social understanding (mindreading/mentalizing/ intersubjective abilities). These abilities far surpass mindreading abilities among our closest Great Ape relatives. Third, we provide further evidence for this hypothesis showing that in comparison with other Great Apes, young children show qualitatively different levels of collaboration and altruism. Fourth, we provide an overview of the development of attachment and intersubjective abilities during the first 2 years of life that support the hypothesis of a cooperative origin of intersubjectivity. Fifth, we return to the main theme of this article showing three ways in which attachment and intersubjective abilities can be distinguished. We conclude by exploring some clinical implications of this cooperative–intersubjective model of human development.

Mauricio Cortina and Giovanni Liotti (2010) Attachment is about Safety and Protection, Intersubjectivity is about Sharing and Social Understanding: The Relationships between Attachment and Intersubjectivity. Psychoanalytic Psychology, Vol 27(4), pp. 410-441

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Michael Fordham - Ego as Deintegrate of the Self

"In a previous paper (Fordham, 1957a) to which the reader is referred for a fuller account of what follows, I quoted Jung in support of a theory that the self is the prototype of the ego; this, together with other considerations, led to the postulate of an original self, which differs from all other states of integration in that it has no subjective manifestations though it can be inferred or intuited by observation. The theory postulated an original self which cannot give rise to the ego without dividing up spontaneously into parts termed deintegrates; these, by forming the basis for images of the archetypes, make possible the gradual development of the infant's relation to his mother and himself, and the gradual establishment of the ego over against the archetypal energies. These can at first often be observed to threaten the infant, and would overwhelm him disastrously were he not cared for by his own mother, who takes responsibility for satisfying his needs and protecting him, on the one hand, from social pressures with which he is manifestly not ready to deal, on the other from the complex inner energies against which he can be equally helpless and against whose effect even the best mothers are sometimes powerless.

The relation of the ego to the archetypes in infancy is radically different from that in later years; originally the ego is assumed to grow out of the self, as the result of its spontaneous deintegration followed by its reintegration. This process repeats, so that the self, considered dynamically, integrates and deintegrates in a rhythmic sequence. Gradually ego boundaries form and the psyche gains a demonstrable structure; only then can we refer to the complementary opposites, the ego and the archetypes, which can express themselves in images. It is recognized that, once this has happened, the energy in the archetypal forms bears a compensating relation to the strength of the ego as the centre of the conscious mind, and so, as the relative dominance of the ego comes about, the archetypal forms sink into the background or get hidden behind the barriers of repression. But when, as happens later in life, the ego ceases to have the same significance, as Jung has convincingly shown, it becomes drained of part of its energy and archetypal activity increases until finally the ego is displaced. It follows that the individuation process begins when ego consciousness, as an ideal and as a social and personal necessity, collapses.

The essential problem lies in the relation of the ego to the self; in early ego development the self is conceived to give rise to the ego, which then takes up its own struggle to extend consciousness with the support of, or in opposition to, the self. In individuation the self starts by performing the opposite function; it so to say attacks and eliminates the ego's position of pre-eminence which, as an illusion, it never regains."
(pp. 123-124)

"The thesis of this paper is mainly conservative inasmuch as it contests the extension of the classical concept of individuation to embrace the first half of life, including infancy. If individuation be defined as realization by the ego of the tendency to wholeness, it cannot cover the predominantly splitting processes of early infancy and childhood which lead to the opposition ego—unconscious. In the second half of life there may be deintegration of the self, but the predominating process is a uniting one; it leads to awareness of the ego as part of a greater whole, the self....In infancy the ego and self are not separate from each other in the way which Jung has correctly emphasized for personalities in whom the ego is a sufficiently organized structure. In them the ego can be distinguished clearly from that larger integer the self, and when this happens the process of individuation becomes an empirical fact." (pp. 127-128)


Michael Fordham (1958). Individuation and Ego Development. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 3, pp. 115-130

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Guiseppe Civitarese - Immersion vs. Interactivity

"....any analytic style or model that aims to produce a transformative experience must satisfactorily resolve the conflict between immersion (the analyst's emotional participation and sticking to the dreamlike or fictional climate of the session, dreaming knowing it's a dream) and interactivity (for the most part, interpretation as an anti-immersive device that ‘wakes’ one from fiction and demystifies consciousness). In analytic field theory the setting can be defined — because of the weight given to performativity of language, to the sensory matrix of the transference and the transparency of the medium — the place where an ideal balance is sought between immersion and interaction." (p. 279)

Guiseppe Civitarese (2008). Immersion Versus Interactivity and Analytic Field. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, Vol. 89, pp. 279-298

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Norah Moore - The Transcendent Function and the Forming Ego

Editors Note: Jung's concept of the transcendent function and the corresponding production of symbols has similarities with Wilfred Bion's concept of the alpha function.   Bion conceptualized the alpha function as working on unmetabolized aspects of experience, referred to as beta elements, which are transformed,  via the alpha function, into aspects of experience which can be reflected on - metabolized experiences which he referred to as alpha elements.

"Jung's first exposition of this concept was in the paper ‘The transcendent function’ written in 1916 (JUNG 10), although he had prepared the way in an earlier description of the symbol as a means of assimilating the unconscious contents and as a bridge to ‘the best of man’ (JUNG 9). He speaks of the conscious and unconscious tendencies together making up the transcendent function: unconscious material is needed for it in conjunction with the ego which searches for meaning and strives to understand the unconscious; alternatively, creative formulation, elaborating the unconscious material, allows it to condense into motifs of creative fantasy; that is to say, into symbols. Understanding and creative formulation often go hand in hand, each regulating the other. In this process, he says, the ego takes the lead, but the counterposition in the unconscious is equal in value to it.

In ‘Definitions’, published in 1921, this description of the process of the transcendent function is elaborated in a way that stresses the experience which accompanies it, and the effect it has of causing a change of direction. The symbol is described there as the best possible expression of a fact which is relatively unknown at the moment of the symbol's birth, every psychic function going into its making. The full conscious confrontation of the opposites produces a violent disunion, and because the ego is forced at this moment to acknowledge both the rational and the irrational as equals, it cannot choose between them and a suspension of the will occurs, and this dams up vital energy. Out of this impasse, he says, a new unity is born, the symbol, which transcends the opposites, and stands in a compensatory relation to both, forming a middle ground where they are united, and which is acceptable to the ego. The symbolic nature of this new thing is recognizable by the accepting attitude of the conscious mind towards it, by the sense of revelation accompanying it and by the initiation of a reconstructive process with the setting up of new goals. Jung writes: ‘I have called this process in its totality the transcendent function’ (JUNG 12, p. 480).

In 1917 in ‘Two essays’, Jung again speaks of the transcendent function as the whole process, labour, action, and suffering of coming to terms with the unconscious (JUNG 11, p. 79). He then goes on to speak of its content and purpose: ‘It represents a function based on real and "imaginary", or rational and irrational, data, thus bridging the yawning gulf between conscious and unconscious.’ He says further (p. 108): ‘The transcendent function does not proceed without aim and purpose, but leads to the revelation of the essential man.… The meaning and purpose of the process is the realization, in all its aspects, of the personality originally hidden away in the embryonic germ-plasm; the production and unfolding of the original, potential wholeness.’

In 1940 in ‘The archetypes of the collective unconscious’, he says more about the way the birth of the symbol is reacted to. In the collision of opposites, he says, a third thing, the symbol, is born, which is of an irrational nature, and is neither expected nor understood and is at first rejected by both conscious and unconscious, but which leads to a new situation and promotes new conscious attitudes (JUNG 14).

This completed the description of the transcendent function, and elsewhere (JUNG 16, 13) the themes are repeated of the transcendent function as process and experience, without further elaboration.

Jung's viewpoint is that of the directed and formed minds of the adults he treated, for whom the unconscious material was not readily at hand (JUNG 10) but had to be sought in various ways. In addition to the transference as a source, he mentions dreams, fantasies and slips, and the practice of active imagination. He points out that in primitive people, in whom the mind is not yet directed, this search for unconscious material is unnecessary, since that is all around. He does not, however, describe how the transcendent function grows and is experienced by the forming ego as directedness comes to predominate over undirectedness in the course of civilization, or in the somewhat analogous development of a child.

I wish to explore those areas of the inception of the transcendent function. To Jung's formulation that every psychic function goes to the making of a symbol, I would like to add that only the psychic functions that have evolved enough at the time can participate. The real and imaginary data he mentions must be mediated by the senses, and by means of sense-perceptions of the outside world, while the archetypal images of the inner world must be encountered in bodily experience with the mother. The body bases of the symbol are found in the mode of bodily experience of the time, and in the kind of perception of the outside world of which the infant is capable."
(p. 164-165)


"It has been seen that the transcendent function shows itself at different developmental stages in different ways, but always acts in providing a stable basis for future growth by linking back to what has gone before, thus enabling the ego to make sense of new experience: at first by an emotionally charged symbolic equation which restores the original wholeness, and later by a representation which may also be strongly affective, when the ego is in a position to observe.

The transcendent function has its forerunner in the earliest months of life when the ego is forming, in the projection of archetypal images and in symbolic equivalence; it is formed of all the psychic functions and mechanisms and of the mode of perceiving of the time. It grows side by side with the ego in a mutual interaction, the body ego and observing ego developing together as islands of body experience which gradually become more continuous. The bridge between inner and outer is at first a symbolic equivalence, but representations of the lost primal self may then occur. As the ego develops it defends itself against the unconscious from which it is emerging, but also relates to it by participation in the transcendent function. Later on the formed ego is able to be an observer because defences have developed, and it has now to make some effort to get into touch with the unconscious, as in active imagination. While the ego is developing, or in times of regression, the unconscious is all around without much barrier, and no special effort need to be made to encounter it. The symbol forms a bridge for a two-way action between inner and outer, relating always to the wholeness of the self. The conscious mind reaches out to grasp whatever is unknown to it, whether in the unconscious or without, where the inner images are met as projections.

As at different stages there are different kinds of perception, there are also different mechanisms for communicating with the unconscious, and both these variables influence the way the transcendent function is experienced. At first there is a projective mechanism, which gives way later to creative formulation and imagination; the experience of the opposites is at first discontinuous, but later the opposites confront each other, and a capacity for ambivalence develops. The fixed attitude to the discontinuous inner world which is met in the archetypal transference gives place to the development of an as-if attitude to it which is more continuous.

At first wholeness is of a chaotic totality of experience, where real and imaginary data are not separated or distinguished; as the primal self deintegrates and islands of ego begin to form, the opposite aspects of the archetypes are projected separately in sequence, and encountered by the ego as outside phenomena, strange and unfamiliar, although they are inner images that are being met. The developing transcendent function forms a bridge between the opposites as they come into collision, and the gap between real and imaginary widens as the ego grows: here the symbol is born, which allows the conscious and unconscious to take hold of each other in a conjunctio at once tangible and infinite."
(pp. 179-180)

Norah Moore (1975). The Transcendent Function and the Forming Ego. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 20, pp.164-182

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Louis Sander Passed Away November 28, 2012

Louis Sander - a member of the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis and the Boston Change Process Study Group - died at home on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at the age of 94.  Below are the comments about Dr. Sander's contributions written by Stephen Seligman for Psychoanalytic Dialogues in 2002:

Louis Sander is one of the most ambitious, comprehensive, and profound psychoanalytic theorists of our time. Yet his work is not widely known outside the world of developmental psychoanalysis. Among these cognoscenti, Sander is revered as an intellectual godfather: He began looking at babies with crystal clarity before any of the original crop of infant observers did, influenced them all, and has retained his status as their intellectual hero. Exploring the theoretical implications of those observations, he proposes an exceptionally bold synthesis that brings systems theories from physics, neuroscience, and general biology to bear on the basic questions of psychic structure and motivation.

Louis Sander's bold and ambitious theoretical synthesis deserves careful attention from psychoanalysts of all persuasions. Sander's cutting-edge approach draws on infant observation research, nonlinear dynamic systems theories, and current biology, physics, and other “hard” sciences. He is rethinking the psychoanalytic approach to psychic structure, motivation, and therapeutic action. In so doing, he updates Freud's project of linking psychoanalysis with scientific paradigms, but without reductionism, epistemological naivete, or an implicit antipsychological attitude.

Sander emphasizes the dynamic relationships between elements in systems. His method draws parallels between the different levels of the functioning of natural systems, starting with the basic “biological” level of cells and organs and moving toward the psychic and interpersonal phenomena that are of greatest interest to psychoanalysts. In this way, he opens a window for a broad and inclusive “relational metapsychology.”

Stephen Seligman (2002). Louis Sander and Contemporary Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Dial., 12:1-10.