Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dianne Braden - Participation Mystique as Bridge

Chapter excerpt from Dianne Braden (2014). Songs Never Heard Before: Listening and Living Differently in Shared RealitiesChapter 5 in Mark Winborn (Ed.). Shared Realities: Participation Mystique and Beyond. Fisher King Press, 2014.

"I’m left with the recognition that participation mystique represents, for me, a bridge between the world of the psyche and the world of my concrete body, the world of the other and the world I see as mine. These worlds are filled with perceptions, beliefs, sensibilities, fantasies and landscapes whose boundaries are more permeable than I’d ever thought possible, until I went to Kauai, on a writer’s retreat, to escape the participation mystique of another Ohio winter. The Self, in Jungian terms, is nothing if not ironic!

But these experiences point to more than a wry reflection based on the awareness that things didn’t go as I expected. It’s hard to miss the importance of these large gates one meets in a lifetime, gates whose opening changes our perceptions of what we see and hear. This experience certainly accomplished that for me, personally and professionally, and from such an unexpected teacher. Of course, I take Jung’s caution about the danger of the numinous to heart, and know that while participation mystique is an interesting and useful new tool, it is not the only or the best or the ultimate of analytic tools. Nor is it the wrong tool, if entered into unsuccessfully. But it deserves a place of recognition that I think it’s been deprived of for some time.

I have long believed there is an aesthetic of soul, discernible more easily in the dreams and fantasies I’m privileged to witness in the course of the analytic work I do. But I feel now like I’ve been given another dimension of psyche’s beauty, and I’ve tucked it away in the reference department of my consulting room attention. For the spirit of place discovered for me in Kauai, or in the story of Swift Gazelle, or in the wisdom and discipline demanded by the crazy woman of my dream, now adds a vitality and dimension to my work that I appreciate exponentially, as time goes on and my skill in accessing it increases. These are joined by the spirits of place invited into my sphere as I listen differently to the “songs never heard before” from my patients.

I agree with Jung when he says, “It was as though a breath of the great world of stars and endless space had touched me, or as if a spirit had invisibly entered the room."  I think this is exactly what happens when we are inducted into participation mystique with a place, a piece of music, or the psyche of another opening to us in analysis." (p. 128) 

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Judith Mitriani - The Greatest Obstacle to Good Analytic Work is the Desire to Do Good

"In concluding, I wish to express my belief that many of us are drawn to the work of analysis, at least in part, by the desire to do some good. However, paradoxically, this may be the greatest obstacle to actually doing ‘good analytic work’ and therefore the greatest barrier to truly helping the patient. If unbridled, it may prove to be the most obstructive ‘desire’—in Bion’s sense of the word—since our patients may actually need to transform us, in the safety of the transference relationship, into the ‘bad’ object that does harm. In terms of analytic technique, the analyst needs to be able to muster the wherewithal to see, hear, smell, feel and taste things from the vantage point of the patient. I have found it is of little use to give the patient the impression, in one way or another, that what he/she made of what I said or did was neither what I intended nor what I actually did or said. This tactic almost always misses the point andmay even reinforce the patient’s sense that his/her experiences are indeed unbearable.

Our analysands’ developmental need to house their ‘bad’ objects and unendurable experiences in us is primary. Within us, these objects and the experiences that have created them may find an opportunity for rehabilitation and transformation. For example, the experience of the ‘abandoning object’ that we become—during holidays, weekend breaks, silences and especially in the absence of our understanding in the analytic hour— may have the chance to become an experience of ‘an abandoning object who takes responsibility for having abandoned the patient’ and who, at the same time, is able to keep the patient in mind suf.ciently to be able to think about how he/she might feel about having been abandoned. Most importantly, that same object may also be experienced by the patient as able to bear being ‘bad’, which in itself is ‘good’! Furthermore, when reintrojected by the patient in this modified form, the ‘bad’ object is not so ‘bad’ at all: it is human, ordinary, with all the ordinary human frailties imaginable, but it is bearable. In this transformed state, the ‘bad’ object (which is now the contained) is enhanced with a ‘container’ (the analytic object), and the patient will be well on his way towards ‘being’ a thinking and feeling individual." (p. 1102)

Judith Mitriani (2001). Taking the Transference, International Journal of Psychoanalysis. Vol. 82, pp. 1085-1104.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Robert Waska - Klein's Projective Identification and Jung's Participation Mystique

"Contemporary Kleinian thinking includes the idea of projective identification as the core of all transference phenomena and most patients’ internal world of phantasy conflict. Klein’s discovery of the paranoid-schizoid position, the depressive position, and projective identification have set the stage for contemporary clinical understanding of our patients’ struggle with object relational issues.

Jung’s concept of participation mystique  involves a mystical connection, or identity, between subject and object in which the subject cannot clearly distinguish himself from the object but is bound to it by a direct relationship which amounts to a partial identity. It is a transference relationship in which there is an influence directed at the person or thing. As a result, there is an identification with it. Participation mystique involves a non-differentiation of subject and object and hence a primitive unconscious state. This is also a characteristic of the mental state of early infancy and of the unconscious adult mind. Jung’s concept is very similar if not identical to the Kleinian notion of projective identification, especially in terms of the blurred reality between self and other, the influence upon object, and the subsequent identification that takes place. Modern Kleinian treatment utilizes the concept of projective identification as central to understanding human functioning and the moment to moment clinical situation. Steiner states:

[Klein introduced] the concept of projective identification (Klein, 1946), in which splitting is followed by projection of the split-off fragments, which are consequently disowned and attributed to someone else. The motive for projective identification can be so varied (Rosenfeld, 1971) that it is always necessary to specify in detail what the particular aim is at any time. The result, however, although varying in extent, is always a denial of separateness between self and the object, and a consequent depletion of personal resources, as well as a distortion of the object, which is experienced as if it contained the disowned attributes.

One of the most important consequences of the theory of projective identification is that it enables us to formulate the aim of psychoanalysis in new terms. According to this model, the aim of psychoanalysis is to help the patient to achieve an integration and to regain parts of himself that have become unavailable because they have been split off and projected.

Projective identification is not always pathological and with a suitably receptive object can serve as an important form of primitive communication (Bion, 1962). It is a vital part of all human interaction but serious and chronic pathology results if projections become irreversibly bound to the objects they enter and cannot readily be restored to the self.

Betty has elaborated the term by focusing on moment to moment subtle interaction between patient and analyst in which the patient manages to manipulate and shape the analyst into feeling and thinking in certain ways that are congruent with the patient’s phantasies about self and object. These are interpersonal patterns, particular ways of talking, and certain styles of relating that push and pull the analyst to adopt certain feelings, attitudes, and approaches that are enactments of the transference. This understanding of projective identification is very similar to Jung’s idea of the “influence” upon the object that creates certain identifications in the participation mystique dynamic." (pp. 97-98)

Chapter excerpt from Robert Waska (2014). Modern Kleinian Therapy, Jung's Participation Mystique, and the Projective Identification Process, Chapter 4 in Mark Winborn (Ed.). Shared Realities: Participation Mystique and Beyond. Fisher King Press, 2014.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mark Winborn - Watching the Clouds: Analytic Reverie and Participation Mystique

Reverie is opening to one’s own internal stream of consciousness – to ideas, thoughts, feelings, sensations, memories, images, urges, and fantasies. According to José Ortega y Gasset, "So many things fail to interest us, simply because they don’t find in us enough surfaces on which to live, and what we have to do then is to increase the number of planes in our mind, so that a much larger number of themes can find a place in it at the same time." In sympathy with Ortega y Gasset’s observation, reverie involves being receptive on many levels to the experience and communication, both explicit and implicit, of the other person’s presence in the room. It also includes a sensitivity to the emerging potentiality of the ‘analytic third’ - the mutually constellated but indeterminate creation of the analytic dyad which comprises 'something more’ than the combined individual contributions of the analytic partners. The potential range of reverie stretches from the ordinary to the transcendent. For example, Ogden describes reverie as, "an experience that takes the most mundane and yet most personal of shapes…They are our ruminations, daydreams, fantasies, bodily sensations, fleeting perceptions, images emerging from states of half-sleep, tunes, and phrases that run through our minds, and so on." Working from a different vantage point, Marilyn Mathew articulates the connection between reverie and soul: "Reverie is both a process and a state of mind…it is reverie that extends psyche’s vision beyond the door and windows of our minds into the cathedrals of our souls."

Reverie isn’t simply allowing oneself to daydream, where there isn’t an interaction with the flow of thoughts, ideas, and sensations. The stance adopted is similar to Jung’s active imagination191 in which a relationship or stance is established with the internal flow. Active imagination, which has been described as "dreaming with open eyes," is a technique developed by Jung to facilitate the engagement and assimilation of unconscious processes while in a relaxed but waking state. It is important to note, however, that Jung saw active imagination as an activity primarily engaged in by the analysand which, at times, might be facilitated by the analyst. While Jung did engage in the active imagination to facilitate his own process, as documented in The Red Book, it doesn’t appear that he saw active imagination as something that was engaged in with another person as it is typically conceptualized in the case of reverie.

Davidson offered Jungians an initial conceptual step towards reverie by proposing that the patient’s transference is a "lived through form of active imagination." Later, Schaverien built on Davidson’s offering by suggesting that active imagination is a method the analyst can use to understand some forms of countertransference. Schaverien proposes that active imagination can be thought of as nearly synonymous with reverie. However, I would argue that active imagination is a concept which has been predominately utilized and thought about from an intrapsychic or one person theoretical framework. Therefore, there are limitations and pitfalls, from an intersubjective perspective, with re-purposing active imagination as a dyadic (two person) or triadic (i.e. the addition of the analytic third to the dyadic perspective) concept, even if it is more familiar to Jungian readers. Attempting to use the concept of active imagination to discuss the two-fold and three-fold influences of the analytic encounter is rather like the biblical parable of putting new wine into old wineskins.

In contrast, analytic reverie, which has been a dyadic concept since inception, has been referred to by Gabbard and Ogden to as "a waking dream," but one which is dreamt with another person rather than alone. In this vein, Ogden sees reverie as both a personal/private event (i.e. intrapsychic) and an intersubjective one. To put it another way, he acknowledges the presence of two subjectivities that can experience their interaction as being both individual and collective (i.e. as an inter-connected and emergent entity). Ferro also highlights the reciprocal, dyadic nature of reverie:

There is, I believe, a constant baseline activity of reverie… which is the way the analyst constantly receives, metabolizes, and transforms whatever reaches him or her from the patient in the form of verbal, paraverbal, or nonverbal stimuli. The same activity of reverie is at work in the patient in response to every interpretive or noninterpretive stimulus from the analyst. The purpose of analysis is first and foremost to develop this capacity to weave images (which remain not directly knowable)…there is no communication that cannot be seen as having to do with and belonging to the field itself.(pp. 71-73)

Chapter excerpt from Mark Winborn (2014). Watching the Clouds: Analytic Reverie and Participation Mystique, Chapter 3 in Mark Winborn (Ed.). Shared Realities: Participation Mystique and Beyond. Fisher King Press, 2014.
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Monday, July 7, 2014

Conference: Analysis and Activism, Dec 5-7, 2014, London

Analysis and Activism: Social and Political Contributions of Jungian Psychology
December 5-7, 2014 - London, UK
Registration and Further Information Here:
Video announcement by conference organizers:


Sunday, July 6, 2014

James Grotstein - The Overarching Role of Unconscious Phantasy

"In the Kleinian/Bionian way of thinking, all transactions that occur internally within the infant, between infant and mother, infant and world, and between objects in the world are represented as unconscious phantasies. All defense mechanisms themselves constitute unconscious phantasies about the interrelationship between internal objects and between them and the self. Unconscious phantasies constitute moving narrative images and arise during the prelexical hegemony of imagery (Shlain, 1998)....

Virtually everything that is mental can be thought of as related to an unconscious phantasy, e.g., body parts, the body itself, impulses, defense mechanisms, internal objects, even affects. Unconscious phantasy should be distinguished from conscious and preconscious fantasy. For instance, when an analysand, while sitting in the analyst’s waiting room just before a session, by chance overhears the analyst speaking on the phone, he or she may develop a fantasy that the analyst is trysting with his or her lover or spouse. The unconscious phantasy correlate would be that the analyst is clearly demonstrating that he or she prefers others to the analysand and is purposely humiliating the analysand by letting him or her know of the preferred presence of another person in the analyst’s life....

....Klein espoused that phantasies can either be phylogenetic or can form anew in the dynamic, repressed unconscious (by virtue of influences from the unrepressed unconscious; see above). All in all, the analysis of unconscious phantasy occupies the main portion of Kleinian/Bionian practice and thinking.

The concept of unconscious phantasy has played a central role in psychoanalytic thinking and practice almost from the beginning of psychoanalysis....Thus, he [Freud] conceived of unconscious phantasies as the mental representation of the irrupting instinctual drives, or, to put it more mystically, as the narrative incarnation of the drives.

Put succinctly, when a psychoanalyst speaks of phantasy, he or she is usually referring to unconscious phantasy. In the now famous "Controversial Discussions" in London in 1943, during the peak of the time of the troubles between Anna Freud and her followers and Melanie Klein and her followers, a gentlemen’s agreement was forged, initiated by Susan Isaacs (1952) in which she recommended that each side concurred that the term fantasy should apply to conscious or preconscious phenomena, and phantasy to strictly unconscious phenomena (King and Steiner, 1992). Kleinian analysts tend to use the concept of unconscious phantasy as the mainstay of their theory and technique, and consider it to be the sum and substance of the unconscious mental life of the internal world or of psychic reality. In other words, to them phantasy is psychic reality. Today’s ego psychologists, self psychologists, intersubjectivists, relationists, and interpersonalists, being more wedded to impinging and/or depriving reality traumas, both in the genetic past and in the current parallel process of the analysis, tend to pay less attention to unconscious phantasy. Freud (1900, p. 607) stated that dreams were the royal road to the unconscious. I believe that my Kleinian and Bionian colleagues would agree with me that dreams, i.e, phantasies, are the unconscious." (pp. 190-192)

James Grotstein (2008). The Overarching Role of Unconscious Phantasy, Psychoanalytic Inquiry, Vol. 28, pp. 190–205.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Marcus West - Participation Mystique and Trauma

"It is for this reason that the process of analysis with patients who have experienced early trauma is, on the deepest level, essentially one in which the analyst, through the process of participation mystique, slowly comes to experience an equivalent to the patient’s early trauma through the patient’s re-enactment of that trauma upon them.183 The analyst can then, and only then, ‘speak from experience’ and properly contain and help the patient to recognize the impact of the trauma and how this manifests in their fundamental, implicit ways of being with others. This is perhaps what Bion means by the patient communicating their uncontained beta elements to the analyst. This dis-identification from the patient is not, therefore, a simple matter.

Invaluable in this, is the historical, traumatic dimension, the recognition of which has allowed a subtle but profound shift in my analytic attitude. I have come to understand that the way a patient experiences me in the present relates very much to the way that past experiences became installed as their ‘ways of being with others’ at an implicit, procedural level. Furthermore, that every day, moment-by-moment interactions are laden with meaning through association with past experience and past traumas. This has allowed me to see that these experiences are at the same time about me and not about me - which is implicitly facilitates dis-identification - and to recognize and understand what they are about.

The analyst’s ‘accompanying, following, witnessing, and bearing with the patient’s experiences’ means, for me, being able to stay with the patient’s experiences as they actually are and were. The process of analysis (which I contrast in exactly this respect with ‘therapy’) is the slow development, between patient and analyst, of their individual and joint ability to achieve this and to resist the patient’s natural, inevitable and understandable pressure to move away from experiences which were previously unbearable." (pp. 65-66)

Excerpt from Marcus West (2014). Trauma, Participation Mystique, Projective Identification and Trauma, in Mark Winborn (Ed.), Shared Realities: Participation Mystique and Beyond, Fisher King Press.

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