Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kenneth Lambert: Resistance and Counter-resistance


I have tried to show that resistance is an activity of one person towards another person, or an image of another person, whereby the resisting person takes up a stance, maintains a system, a stasis, a pause or hold-up. He holds himself upright like a pillar, with undertones of phallicism and ecstasy. With this he opposes another person and causes him to stand back. The pause and the phallic ecstatic element suggests an excited wish behind the resistance that is sustained until the other person has been fully tested out.
Perhaps the ‘system or stasis’ elements arise from the false ego while the ‘pause or hold-up’ elements stem from true ego sources. By contrast the ‘ecstatic and phallic’ dynamisms represent resistance arising out of unconscious sources that wish only to seize the personality and run away with it, regardless of the personal factors involved in the analytical relationship or indeed the fate of the patient.
The way in which this phenomenon has been understood in the historical development of psychoanalysis and analytical psychotherapy and analytical psychology shows a movement from the study of subjective fears involved in submitting to analysis towards the study of modes of resistance. This leads to considering what is being defended; the study finally moves into considerations of the interpersonal process whereby what is being resisted is the impact of or penetration by another person.
Case histories illustrate how envy, often overwhelming, together with experiences of past damage and fear of devastating penetration can cause patients to resist the personal impact of their analysts. Resistance is distinguished from defences by virtue of the fact that, in resistance, the wholeness of the person and its present total organization is felt to be threatened by the analyst. In the case of defences, the subject is defending himself against the pressure of a part of himself that is feared or disliked. This, as Fordham has shown, sometimes operates by projective identification of the sick part of the patient on to the analyst and constitutes an attempt to safeguard the patient's good parts (FORDHAM 7). In the case of Winnicott's deeply regressed patients, however, the distinction between defences and resistances ceases to be relevant; a blind push for survival in the face of threatened annihilation is the order of the day. Prior to treatment through analytical psychotherapy, the false self and ego, together with whatever there may be of a rudimentary real ego, seem to cooperate to provide protection against feared disaster. After therapy gets going, clinical evidence suggests that the resistance-defence put up by the false self works through uncomprehending compliance with interpretations or rejection of them as absurd. The true self, on the other hand, with enough hope in it to seek analytic psychotherapy at all, employs resistance-defence to reject all therapeutic efforts save those that seem to meet the over-riding need for ‘first months of life’ care.
Resistance can be divided into two types. Secondary resistance is very heavily saturated by archetypally originated infantile transference-counter-transference. Primary resistance involves the direct resistances of a person to the possibility of a changed, if not quite new, development of life being brought about by an interpretative and interpenetrative relationship with another person. A deeply conservative force is at work—and, in a way, justified until reality testing has taken place, or, when necessary, the patient's capacity to carry out reality testing has been facilitated. Of course, secondary resistance has a basis in primary resistance, but is heavily influenced by the infantile experiences and the personal history of the patient which in turn determine to a great extent the archetypal configurations involved.
Two phenomena that look like an infantile expression of a primary type of resistance have been uncovered by Winnicott. Patients who regress to the point where their dependence upon the maternal environment is nearly absolute, and who have been interrupted in the early process of finding and creating the maternal object, either go in for a ‘moment of hesitation’ prior to experimenting with a ‘kind of intimacy’ with the analyst or seem to resist endlessly all normal analytical and interpretative processes. This they need to do in the service of the true self because of their need to reproduce with the analyst something as close as possible to the experiences of the early months. Here the destruction of the maternal object, her survival, the objectivity of her reality and the birth of concern and care for the mother etc. represent the real point at issue—critical for the establishment of the infant self's sense of security. In such cases, the real resistance would paradoxically be expressed in any acceptance by the patient of the normal analytical procedures and interpretations. This would in fact only collude with the purposes of the false self.
Resistance on the part of the analyst may be understood in terms of unneurotic resistance, neurotic resistance, reactive counter-resistance, complementary counter-resistance and concordant counter-resistance.
I acknowledge the information and stimulus received in writing this paper from the two historical streams of analytical psychotherapy — psychoanalysis, Kleinian psychology and Winnicott on the one hand, and analytical psychology on the other. In terms of contemporary writers I owe much to Heinrich Racker and Roy Schafer, but above all to an enabling analysis by, and the teaching of Michael Fordham, for whom the whole subject of resistance has been of constant concern and interest.
Kenneth Lambert (1976). Resistance and Counter-Resistance. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 21, pp. 164-192

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

William Meissner - Reflections on Psychic Reality

Abstract: The author explores the nature and development of psychic reality and draws the following conclusions: (1) psychic reality is equivalent to subjective (conscious) awareness. (2) Psychic reality is open to unconscious influences, both as to content and motivation. Psychic reality thus is not equivalent to unconsciousfantasy or transference, but can include effects of both. (3) Psychic reality can also include objective experience. (4) The capacities for internal psychic experience and knowledge of objective reality externally are modes of experiencing that develop early and achieve gradual integration through integrative play. (5) Psychic experience, and therefore psychic reality, cannot be regarded as exclusively subjective or objective, but as inherently both. The ways in which subjectivity does not preclude or exclude objectivity are discussed and related to transitional experience. (6) The inherent subjectivity of psychic experience precludes any form of direct intersubjective communication, that is, unmediated communication from subject to subject. The tensions of subjectivity and objectivity are discussed in relation to the analytic situation, in which perspectives of patient and analyst differ and reflect their respective psychic realities, each with its own validity and uncertainty and openness to unconscious needs, fantasies and motives.

William W. Meissner (2000). Reflections on Psychic Reality. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, Vol. 81, pp. 1117-1138.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Don Kalsched - New Routledge Book Release: Trauma and the Soul

In Trauma and the Soul, Donald Kalsched continues the exploration he began in his first book, The Inner World of Trauma (1996)—this time going further into the mystical or spiritual moments that often occur around the intimacies of psychoanalytic work. Through extended clinical vignettes, including therapeutic dialogue and dreams, he shows how depth psychotherapy with trauma’s survivors can open both analytic partners to "another world" of non-ordinary reality in which daimonic powers reside, both light and dark. This mytho-poetic world, he suggests, is not simply a defensive product of our struggle with the harsh realities of living as Freud suggested, but is an everlasting fact of human experience—a mystery that is often at the very center of the healing process, and yet at other times, strangely resists it.

With these "two worlds" in focus, Kalsched explores a variety of themes as he builds, chapter by chapter, an integrated psycho-spiritual approach to trauma and its treatment including:
  • images of the lost soul-child in dreams and how this "child" represents an essential core of aliveness that is both protected and persecuted by the psyche’s defenses;
  • Dante’s guided descent into the Inferno of Hell as a paradigm for the psychotherapy process and its inevitable struggle with self-destructive energies;
  • childhood innocence and its central role in a person’s spiritual life seen through the story of St. ExupĂ©ry’s The Little Prince;
  • how clinical attention to implicit processes in the relational field, as well as discoveries in body-based affective neuroscience are making trauma treatment more effective;
  • the life of C.G. Jung as it portrays his early trauma, his soul’s retreat into an inner sanctuary, and his gradual recovery of wholeness through the integration of his divided self.
This is a book that restores the mystery to psychoanalytic work. It tells stories of ordinary patients and ordinary psychotherapists who, through working together, glimpse the reality of the human soul and the depth of the spirit, and are changed by the experience. Trauma and the Soul will be of particular interest to practicing psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, analytical psychologists, and expressive arts therapists, including those with a "spiritual" orientation.

Donald Kalsched is a Jungian analyst in private practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a training analyst with the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts. He is the author of numerous articles in analytical psychology, and lectures widely on the subject of early trauma and its treatment. His books include The Inner World of Trauma (1996).

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Robert Caper - Strachey's Auxilliary Ego and Mutative Interpretation

"Strachey believed that the mutative interpretation exerted its therapeutic effect because it made the analyst into what he called an ‘auxiliary superego’ for the patient. He felt that, in making a mutative interpretation, the analyst draws the patient's attention to the fact that he (the patient) regards him as similar in some way to the patient's archaic superego. But he does so in a way that at the same time demonstrates that he is not the patient's archaic superego. Strachey makes it clear that the analyst does not do this by being kind, tolerant or loving, as a way of contrasting himself to the patient's harsh, intolerant superego. That would amount to no more than being an archaic superego in its positive (i.e. seductive) variation - one that controls the patient's mind by ‘parental’ love and approval rather than ‘parental’ hatred and disapproval. Instead, the analyst becomes the one thing that an archaic superego is incapable of being: realistic. According to Strachey,

the most important characteristic of the auxiliary superego is that its advice to the ego is consistently based upon real and contemporary considerations and this in itself serves to differentiate it from the greater part of the original superego (Strachey, 1934, pp. 281-2, my italics).

But, of course, advice (or anything else) that is ‘based upon real and contemporary considerations’ must be a function of the part of the mind whose function it is to determine what is real and contemporary, namely, the ego.

If we look at the relationship between patient and analyst from the point of view of group psychology, the mutative interpretation consists of the analyst detaching himself from the basic-assumption group that he has joined with the patient (through mutual projective identification), and forming a work group. In terms of the psychology of the individual, it is the analyst detaching himself from a state of mind dominated by his archaic superego, and instead employing his ego - his capacity to simply observe what is real and contemporary in the psychic sphere.

Clinically, the analyst uses his ego to maintain contact with the patient's state of mind using his countertransference and other means. He then tries to convey to the patient what his state of mind is, or, rather, those aspects of it of which the patient is unaware. He does this without any implication about how the patient should be (which would be a superegoactivity encouraging splitting), but only tries to describe how, in the analyst's opinion, he actually is (an ego activity encouraging integration).

I believe that it would clarify our understanding of mutative interpretation if we did not follow Strachey in regarding the analyst as an ‘auxiliary superego’ for the patient. The analyst's work in mainly directed toward using his ego to place himself in a world different from that of the superego, one of impartial assessment of reality, without any of the moralistic disapproval or approval that is the essence of the world of the archaic superego. I believe that the reason that the mutative interpretation has its specific effect on the patient is not that the analyst turns out to be an ‘auxiliary superego’ for the patient, i.e. a better superego than the one the patient already has - but that he turns out to be an auxiliary ego, which is no kind of superego at all.

For this reason I believe it would deepen our understanding of the specific therapeutic action of psychoanalysis, and help us clarify the differences between psychoanalytic development and psychotherapeutic change, if we did not follow Strachey in regarding the analyst as an ‘auxiliary superego’ for the patient. In making a mutative interpretation, the analyst is acting as an ego, an agent of reality. The reality that he supports in the analysis is the clarification of who is who, what belongs to the patient and what to the analyst. By so doing, he incurs the hostility of the archaic superego, both the patient's and his own, the force of which is directed against an integrated view of reality and toward splitting, projection and confusion. Strachey wrote that in making a mutative interpretation, the analyst is testing his relationship to his own unconscious impulses. I believe, rather, that the mutative interpretation tests his relationship to reality, on one hand, and to his own archaic superego, on the other. For this reason, a successful mutative interpretation is therapeutic for the analyst as well as for the patient." (pp. 99-100)

Robert Caper (1995). On The Difficulty Of Making A Mutative Interpretation. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, Vol. 76, pp. 91-101