Friday, November 27, 2015

James Grotstein on The Transcendent Position

by James S. Grotstein


Bion, who was to become the awesome explorer of the "deep and formless infinite" of the psyche, first immersed himself in the theories of Freud and Klein and then gradually developed a revolutionary metapsychological metatheory for psychoanalysis. Bion incurred the criticism of his colleagues by daring to investigate faith, spirituality, religion, mysticism, metaphysics, and fetal mental life. His concepts of transformations in L(ove), H(ate), and K(nowledge), as well as of intuitionistic and subjective science [Transformations in "O" (Ultimate Truth, Absolute Reality)], constitute an objective and numinous psychoanalytic epistemology.

Bion was preoccupied with the concept of ultimate reality and absolute truth and reoriented psychoanalytic metapsychology into a theory of thinking and meta-thinking about emotions. He distinguished the "thoughts-without-a-thinker" from the mind that had to develop in order to think them. I believe that his concept of "intuitionistic thinking" also presumes the presence of a more profound aspect of that mind: Not only did a mind develop to harvest the "thoughts without a thinker," but another aspect of the mind had to originate these "unthought thoughts." I believe that Bion came to a realization that true "thinking" ("dream work alpha" along the dimensions of "L, H, and K") is an unconscious -- if not preconscious -- act and that what we normally term "thinking" (application of the ordinate and abscissa of the "Grid") is really "after-thinking."

By realigning psychoanalysis with metaphysics and ontology (existentialism), Bion perforated the mystique of ontic "objectivity" implicit to logical-positivistic, deterministic science and revealed its own unsuspected mythology--its absolute dependence on sense data. Applying his concept of reversible perspective, he found myths, both collective and personal, to be themselves "scientific deductive systems" in their own right (Bion, 1992). Mostly, Bion founded a new mystical science of psychoanalysis, a numinous discipline based on the abandonment of memory, desire, and understanding. To Bion, mysticism is "seeing things as they truly are -- without disguise" (personal communication). He was preoccupied with the question of how we know what we know.

In this contribution I emphasize my understanding of Bion as the intuitionistic epistemologist, the "emotional mathematician" (Bion, 1965), the "mystical scientist" (Bion, 1970), the intrepid voyager into the deep and formless infinite, "O." I suggest that a "Transcendent Position" is implied by Bion's conception of "O," the latter of which overarches "nameless dread," beta elements, the "thing-in-themselves," the noumenon, "absolute truth," "ultimate reality," and "reverence and awe." 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Passing of Harold Searles_1918-2015

I'm sad to report the passing today (1918-2015) of one of the great figures in American psychoanalysis - Harold Searles - who is best remembered for his pioneering work on the psychoanalytic treatment of schizophrenia.

Harold F. Searles (born 1918) is one of the pioneers of psychiatric medicine specialising in psychoanalytic treatments of schizophrenia. Harold Searles has the reputation of being a therapeutic virtuoso with difficult and borderline patients; and of being, in the words of Horacio Etchegoyen, president of the IPA, “not only a great analyst but also a sagacious observer and a creative and careful theoretician”.

  • Searles, Harold F.. Countertransference and related subjects; selected papers., Publisher New York, International Universities Press, 1979
  • Searles, Harold F.: Collected papers on schizophrenia and related subjects, Imprint New York, International Universities Press, 1965
  • Searles, Harold F: My Work With Borderline Patients, Publisher: Jason Aronson, 1994, 
  • Searles, Harold F.: The Nonhuman Environment in Normal Development and in Schizophrenia (New York, 1960) 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Michael Eigen - Image, Sense, Infinities, and Everyday Life

Excerpt from Karnacology Article Introducing Eigen's New Book: 

"I have been fascinated by images ever since I can remember. How embarrassing for my mother, proudly introducing her three-year-old son to the principal of the school at which she taught only to have the little one say, “You’re a whale.”  To this moment, I can see myself seeing this good man as a whale as vividly as the instant it happened. His body and demeanour became a prompt for a waking dream image selected from swarms of inner possibilities, seas of images within. For the little boy, people were not only people. They also were these images and, at times, this led to trouble.

Wilfred R. Bion wrote a good deal about “verbal images” and for a poet, verbal images can create experiential realities. I’m no longer sure when I became aware that words were packed with colour and tone. I could actually hear music and see colours when writing and sometimes speaking, as if words were colours and tones and the latter words. The separation ordinarily made between such media did not hold for me. Later in life I was drawn to and profoundly influenced by psychoanalysts who painted, drew, and had a feel for poetry and music – Marion Milner, D. W. Winnicott, and Wilfred Bion.


Sense is a word that spans many dimensions of experience, a kind of unifying word: e.g., the five or six senses, proprioception and kinaesthesia, common sense, animal or vital sensing, sense as meaning, intuition, a felt sense, a self-sense, a sense of self and other, God-sense. A lot of sensing goes on in psychoanalytic sessions, with one’s self, others, art and writing. One senses mood, atmospheric conditions, feeling.

Sensing often gives rise to images acting as expressive “feelers”, touching and opening experiential worlds moments convey.  Herbert Read felt that image preceded idea by about two hundred years. Hopefully, in a particular life the situation is more condensed. It is a real issue, how we sense our life and our images of it. Identity fields flow from them.

In Western epistemology, sensation and image have been second-class citizens until the Romantic Movement, but poets and mystics have always valued them.  As I point out in The Psychotic Core, Freud used images drawn from spiritual experience to describe creative processes.

The first chapter of my new book Image, Sense, Infinities, and Everyday Life explores birth as an image sense used to describe feeling. Literal, physical birth turns into an expressive verbal image for sensations of change and transformation. Bion spoke of psychoanalysis as embryonic, not yet born or in uneven aspects of birth. Similarly, human personality. There are ways we are born and fail to be born all life long. Biblical psalms and prophesies link states of birth to mood. When God is gone, the psalmist may die out emotionally. When the Divine Presence manifests, the psalmist comes emotionally alive. We repeatedly undergo variations of death-rebirth experiences emotionally.  The prophet promises God will give us a new soul, a new spirit, fresh as snow. Spiritual texts throughout the world supply colorful language to express affective dramas.

Bion links a sense of empty-full with the feeding situation, the infant’s full and empty states at the mother’s breast, sensations that turn into a vocabulary for emotional and spiritual states. Emptiness-fullness expand in meaning as one grows. They take many turns in Bion’s work. For example, Bion values a space unsaturated by meaning so that meaning can grow, in contrast with over-saturated space with little room for more.  We develop a sense for the rise and fall of affect in sessions, the interplay of good and bad feeling, and a kind of internal psychic “body English” towards tipping the balance for the better.

Book Description - Image and sensing have been underrated in Western thought but have come into their own since the Romantic movement and have always been valued by poets and mystics. Images come in all shapes and sizes and give expression to our felt sense of life. We say we are made in the image of God, yet God has no image. What kind of image do we mean? An impalpable image carrying impalpable sense? An ineffable sense permeates and takes us beyond the five senses, creating infinities within everyday life. Some people report experiencing colour and sound when they write or hear words. Sensing mediates the feel of life, often giving birth to image.
In this compelling book, Michael Eigen leads us through an array of images and sensing in many dimensions of experience, beginning with a sense of being born all through life, psychosis, mystical moments, the body, the pregnancy of “no”, shame, his session with André Green, and his thoughts related to James Grotstein, Wilfred Bion, and Marion Milner. The author concludes with notes on his life as a young man leading him into the therapeutic vocation he has fostered and which has fostered him for nearly sixty years.
Michael Eigen is a psychologist and psychoanalyst, and the 2015 recipient of the NAAP Lifetime Achievement Award. He is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology in the Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis at New York University, and a Senior Member of the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis. He is the author of a number of books, including Toxic NourishmentThe Psychoanalytic MysticFeeling Matters and Flames from the Unconscious.  He contributed a chapter to Mark Winborn's book Shared Realities. His latest book, Image, Sense, Infinities, and Everyday Life, is published by Karnac Books.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Curator of The Psychoanalytic Muse Interviewed by "Speaking of Jung"

Dr. Mark Winborn at Bollingen, the lake
retreat of C.G. Jung in Switzerland
Dr. Mark Winborn was recently interviewed by Laura London of the “Speaking of Jung Podcast.” The interview has been uploaded to her website and can be listened to or downloaded here:
It’s 55 minutes long and revolves around the general theme of “What is Jungian Analysis?” but it covers a wide territory contrasting Jungian with psychoanalytic perspectives, medications, treatment effectiveness, the therapeutic relationship, choosing an analyst, etc.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

"Shared Realities" Nominated for 2015 Gradiva Award - NAAP

"Shared Realities," edited by Mark Winborn and published by Fisher King Press has been nominated for the 2015 Gradiva award - awarded annually by the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis - for the best published, produced, or publicly exhibited works that advance psychoanalysis. The final determination for the nominees will be made during the NAAP annual meeting November 14th in NYC.

Winborn's "Shared Realities" Reviewed in JAP

Mark Winborn’s book (editor and contributor), Shared Realites: Participation Mystique and Beyond (Fisher King Press), is reviewed in the September 2015 issue of the Journal of Analytical Psychology (Vol. 60, #4, pp. 563-565). The review is written by Stephen Bloch of the South African Association of Jungian Analysts (SAAJA). The volume includes several IRSJA contributors - Pamela Power, Dianne Braden, Deborah Bryon, Jerome Bernstein, and John White – as well as Jungian analysts and psychoanalysts from other societies and countries (Marcus West, Robert Wasksa, Michael Eigen, and Francois Martin Vallas). 

From the review: "This book is an engaging and enriching exploration of a key Jungian term which is often overlooked. It is a concept that one often thinks one has grasped and integrated. On reading this panoramic spread of papers one becomes aware of the generative significance and clinical usefulness that a full understanding of this concept brings. Moreover, as the more psychoanalytically based authors demonstrate, participation mystique may well be the area of intersection between analytical psychology and broader psychoanalytic thinking. The result is a comprehensive sense of how the concept is understood and utilized by contemporary analysts."…/10.…/1468-5922.12170_2/full

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Mark Winborn - Aesthetic Experience and Analytic Process

"We each have an aesthetic sensibility that is collectively influenced, archetypally potentiated, and intimately connected to our individual subjectivity. When conducting an analysis, we implicitly evaluate almost every element on an aesthetic level. Our analytic aesthetics, which are strongly influenced by the culture of our training, significantly impact our sense of what analysis should feel, sound, and look like. Our theoretical orientations are likely adopted because a particular set of theories conform to an internal aesthetic ideal or provide a sense of aesthetic satisfaction. All analysts have aims and ideals in analysis, even these are implicitly held (Sandler & Dreher, 1996). I would extend this idea by saying that all analysts have an aesthetic sense they are working from and responding to, even if they are unaware of it.

Analysis is a work, both active and receptive, in which there is a creative product contributed to by both parties. Therapeutically, we could say analysis is a restoration of an aesthetic response to life in which meaning plays an important organizing role. Attention to the aesthetic elements of analysis brings the interaction alive, awakening our psyches and stirring our imaginations. Aesthetics is a way to give ourselves over to experience – a way of entering into experience, rather than thinking about experience. Hopefully, these sensitivities become something that complement our other ways of ‘being with’ in analysis, rather than becoming one pole of a dichotomized set of opposites where one mode of working analytically is inevitably seen as better than another mode. There must be a moving back and forth between understanding and knowing, which are related to meaning, and a creative response to the analytic situation which is the aesthetic element. In the end, the process of meaning making is itself an aesthetic object rather than a process unto itself." (p. 104)

Mark Winborn - Aesthetic Experience and Analytic Process, International Journal of Jungian Studies, 2015, Vol. 7, #2, pp. 94-107.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Giuseppe Civitarese - Closing Your Eyes to See

Now, “You are requested to close the eyes (or an eye)”, from being the inaugural moment of Freud's self-analysis and of psychoanalysis, becomes the moment that marks the start of each analysis. We ask patients to free associate, to dream, to set aside external reality and to focus on psychic reality. The analyst too turns a blind eye because he forgoes any judgmental attitude. And he closes his eyes. Analysis consists in an exchange of states of reverie, in the creation of a shared dream space in which the communication between one unconscious and another takes place in ideal conditions.

Through the intuition of the unconscious movements of the relationship, the analyst builds new symbolic forms to help the analysand express hitherto unthinkable emotions, to make the superego less ruthless, and thus to be more fully human. The assumption behind this approach is that when a patient enters analysis, he loses his mind (Ogden, 2009 ) or, in other words, enters an intermediate psychological area, or one shared with the analyst. The way in which each generates the meanings of his or her own experience is affected by the presence of the other. What is created is an unconscious emotional field that the couple share. In short, for a mind to develop, when it is born, or to resume psychic growth that in some areas may have been arrested, there have to be at least two people.

The very device of analysis (an unprecedented form of relationship, a new way of being human that was invented by Freud) is therefore an example of voluntary blindness, like turning off the lights to focus on the theatre of the inner life or the phantasmagoria of the cinema of dreams.

Civitarese, Giuseppe (2014). The Necessary Dream: New Theories and Techniques of Interpretation in Psychoanalysis (Kindle Locations 249-261). Karnac Books. Kindle Edition. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Lina Balestriere - Working in the Field of Psychosis

Psychosis questions the very foundations of the concepts on which analysts rely to represent psychic functioning. More than any other pathology, it undermines the pillars of analytical thinking, reveals the intimate core of conceptual thought, dismantles the shared scaffolding of theoretical construction and questions ultimate convictions about the foundations and functioning of the psychic apparatus. What becomes of representation if it disintegrates, becomes a thing, or indeed an empty sound? What becomes of the trace if emptiness, nothingness, paralysis, blankness occupy such a large place in the psychic life of the subject? And then what becomes of a subject or, in Freudian terms, an ego when not only that sense of identity but also more fundamentally that sense of existing, in a relationship, in relation to others, fi rmly grounded on land, which upholds all people, is simply not sustainable? What becomes of anxiety if it reaches the borders of non-existence, if the annihilation process deforms perception, of one’s body, oneself, of others? What then of the encounter, what of the transference, that major process, the decisive lever for psychoanalytic work, at once repetition and a possible exit from repetition, if that encounter perpetually takes place beneath the sword of Damocles, of the inescapable, of powerlessness, annihilation, of that which never happened, or happened too often, of uncontrollable anxiety or persecutory emptiness? To advance into these zones with the concepts we make our own leaves us anxious and distraught. We fear then that these, our beams of light amidst obscurity, to cite a Freudian metaphor, will lose substance before such radical questioning. Once divested of their robes, of their elaborate scaffolding, what will remain? The vertigo of doubt is inescapable. After all, there is no guarantee they have their own existence, in the sense that their relevance might hold for that core of the real which conceptual abstraction attempts to capture. It is undoubtedly not fortuitous that for a long time analysts, and Freud fi rst and foremost, cast doubt upon the psychotic’s capacity for transference. The young science had to preserve itself from too radical a questioning. It was no doubt easier to think the psychotic incapable of transference than to have to submit to the risk of doubt and so risk ruining those convictions acquired in the field of the neuroses.

Nor is it fortuitous that a theory of the psychoses nearly always introduces new concepts: I am thinking of Aulagnier’s pictogram, of Bion’s β-elements, of Lacan’s foreclusion of the Name-of-the-Father, to cite only those theorizations which find a new currency for the problematics of representation. But the force of those theories spares no psychoanalyst confronted with psychosis from asking the essential question. What remains when the building totters and cracks, what of the living core that resists and has our conviction prevail, the raw material, grain of sand from the real, around which can coalesce the pearl of the concept? There is no set answer. Things come to light in singular fashion, for each practitioner, thanks to salutary, vertiginous experience and the collapse of certainties. (pp. 407-408)

Lina Balestriere (2007): The Work of the Analyst in the Field of Psychosis, International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, Vol. 88, pp. 407-421.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Michael Diamond - Use of the Analytic Mind and Interpsychic Communication

Conclusion to the Paper: The analyst’s unique use of mind placed in the service of the patient’s mind–body expression provides the driving force for patients to become more able to access their own unconscious mental functioning, both to understand themselves better and to internalize the mutative facets of the relationship with the analyst. Accordingly, the patient’s development is essentially dependent on the analyst’s use of this function and disturbed by perturbations in it. Consequently, as Loewald (1960) advocated, the analyst must offer a more or less evolved representational level, moving a step beyond the patient’s mental state by offering a different yet experientially appropriate perspective of a new, more “mature” object at a higher level of psychic integration. This requires discipline and faith in interpsychic dialogue in the context of an open, emotionally engaged unconscious participation in the analytic dyad.

In order to access and trust the unconsciously functioning analytic instrument, to secure analytic technique, and to better meet the challenges of our “impossible profession” (Freud 1923) by furthering dialogue among different psychoanalytic cultures—particularly given the somewhat neglected primacy of the Freudian unconscious—analysts are best sustained by maintaining confidence in analysis and its potential usefulness for each unique analytic dyad. Therefore, analysts need to recognize the significance of unconscious communication and to possess a clinical perspective grounded in theory both of unconscious mind and of analytic mind use in order to feel anchored across the spectrum of patients and situations.

The analyst’s more relaxed capacity to traverse this expanse with its inherent dynamic tension necessitates a level of maturity on the analyst’s part whereby analytic mind use can benefit the patient. In closing, I will quote William Wordsworth’s (1807) lyrical words as aptly evocative of
the essence of the analyst’s developed mind use:

More skilful in self-knowledge, even more pure,
As tempted more; more able to endure,
As more exposed to suffering and distress;
Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Shared Realities: Participation Mystique and Beyond - Conclusion

From Mark Winborn (Ed.). Shared Realities: Participation Mystique and Beyond. Fisher King Press, 2014.

The concept of participation mystique has evolved and expanded in range since C.G. Jung adopted it from Lucien Lévy-Bruhl approximately 100 years ago. The analyst authors who contributed to this volume have explored the concept from fresh perspectives. No longer can participation mystique accurately be utilized as a label to describe the psychological orientation of ‘primitive’ people or be considered an undeveloped or non-psychological way of being. When viewed through the perspective offered by the authors of these chapters, the concept provides a contemporary lens for perceiving “the sympathy of all things.”[1] Participation mystique is better used to describe the complex mix of unconscious and implicit connections/influences that exist: between people, people and animals, people and their environment (including nature), and sometimes between people and things. Because the nature of participation mystique is complex, it sometimes facilitates the analytic process and sometimes obstructs – depending upon our response to the field that has been constellated.

The ongoing developments in quantum physics, complex systems theory, field theory, and philosophy emphasize the inter-relationship of all things in ways never imagined several generations ago. As philosopher Dan Zahavi puts it, “the three regions ‘self ’, ‘others’, and ‘world’ belong together; they reciprocally illuminate one another, and can only be understood in their interconnection.”[2] The conceptual framework created by Jung anticipated the developments of the intersubjective movement in psychoanalysis.[3] As such, we can think of participation mystique as being almost synonymous in function with intersubjectivity, but also as a term which moves beyond the realm of ‘subjectivities’ to include other elements of our environment and the environment itself. Jung’s concept of participation mystique also includes the influence of the collective psyche which is not present in intersubjective theories.

The preceding chapters illustrate the current vitality of the concept. Our desire is that participation mystique will begin to be seen as a broadly reaching concept – an element of which can be found in many other analytic terms and experiences.  These chapters highlight the importance of engaging with each other and our environments from the perspective of participation mystique; a perspective which permits a deeper empathic engagement with our patients and the world to emerge.  

Mark Winborn, PhD, NCPsyA
Editor, Shared Realities

[1] C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 1961, 138. In this passage Jung used this phrase to describe the common foundation of the collective unconscious but it many ways it better describes the experience of participation mystique.
[2] Dan Zahavi, “Beyond Empathy: Phenomenological Approaches to Intersubjectivity,” Journal of Consciousness Studies 8 (2001): 151–167.
[3] Intersubjective psychoanalysis emerged, in part, out of the influence of phenomenological 

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Full sample chapter available at the Fisher King Press link.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Articles on Classical Adlerian Depth Psychology

All of the articles on Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy,
recently published in the Journal of Individual Psychology, may now be
accessed at no cost, directly from the web site at

Contents of the JIP Special Issue:
* "Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy: The Congruence of a
Theory," by Erik Mansager
* "Rediscovering Adler," by Henry Stein
* "Striving for Authenticity," by Sophia de Vries
* "A Narrative Survey of Classical Adlerian Psychotherapists," by Erik
* "Applying the Classical Adlerian Family Diagnostic Process,"by Jane
Pfefferle and Erik Mansager
* "Classical Adlerian Assessment of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic:
Queen of the Derelicts," by Dyanne Pienkowski
* "Examples and Explanations of the Socratic Method in CADP," by
Sophia de Vries and Henry Stein
* Review of Classical Adlerian Psychotherapy, Volume 1," by Dyanne
* "Classical Adlerian Publications"

Henry T. Stein, Ph.D., Director & Senior Training Analyst
Alfred Adler Institutes of San Francisco & Northwestern Washington
Distance Training in Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy

Friday, January 23, 2015

John White: Toward a Phenomenology of Participation Mystique

Chapter excerpt from John White (2014). Toward a Phenomenology of Participation Mystique and a Reformulation of Jungian Philosophical Anthroplogy, Chapter 10 in Mark Winborn (Ed.). Shared Realities: Participation Mystique and Beyond. Fisher King Press, 2014.

Throughout his professional life, Carl Jung insisted that his theories were scientifically and empirically founded, based more or less exclusively on clinical observation and experience. While this claim rings largely true, we should not think of Jung as solely an inductive scientist of the psyche. For Jung offers many statements not only about what the psyche does – i.e. clinical observations – but also about what the psyche is, claims which therefore amount to speculative philosophical claims rather than empirical, scientific claims. That Jung made such claims is consistent with his research program, which included his efforts to establish analytical psychology’s superior understanding of the psyche over the views of Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler. But it is also this element of Jung’s thought which invites philosophical reflection on his theories and opens many of his claims to philosophical scrutiny and critique.

In the following chapter, I seek to outline Jung’s notion of participation mystique and consider it from a philosophical standpoint. My goal will be to articulate Jung’s idea of participation mystique in a way that I think better captures it philosophically than Jung is able to develop. I will begin with some discussion of problems associated with translating Jung, which in turn raise some central issues of a philosophy of human nature or “philosophical anthropology”. I will then outline features of Jung’s notion of participation mystique, including elements of his descriptions which might suggest other interpretations of the data than he assumes. Finally, I will offer a phenomenology of participation mystique, based on the philosophical anthropology that I have outlined. In the end, I hope not only to have clarified the notion of participation mystique philosophically, beyond what Jung was able to do, but also to offer a sounder understanding of human nature and human functioning than is generally available in Jung’s sometimes sketchy writings on these issues....

....The philosophical anthropology I have borrowed from Scheler suggests that the advantage of the spiritual approach to reality is that it allows differentiation and distinction, it gains objective knowledge about the constitution of the world, and it links experience to understanding, reason, and categorical types of thinking. But the psychic approach has its own strengths: imagination, energy, affective power, a sense for totalities, a synthesizing tendency, a richness of experience and life. Spiritual acts, no matter what their value, tend to literalize life and being, which is the cost of achieving its aims; psychic reality in contrast tends to images and values, to multiplicity and play. Psyche moves toward wonder rather than conceptual analysis and color rather than literalness. But psychic reality can also run amok without the cognitive understanding and volitional cultivation of its instinctive movements.

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Francois Martin-Vallas: The Transferential Chimera and Neuroscience

Chapter excerpt from Francois Martin-Vallas  (2014). The Transferential Chimera and Neuroscience, Chapter 9 in Mark Winborn (Ed.). Shared Realities: Participation Mystique and Beyond. Fisher King Press, 2014.

In this chapter, I will examine the question of the participation mystique in neuroscientific terms. Recent developments in neuroscience now enable us to start creating links between our clinical practice, especially the analysis of the transference, as Jung conceptualized it in The Psychology of the Transference and my concept of the transferential chimera.

In Greek mythology, the chimera is a composite beast, born of Echidna and Typhon, as was her sister, the Sphinx. With a lion’s head, a goat’s body and a snake’s tail, she is a devastating monster who spews out flames and devours any humans who fall in her path. In science, specifically in biology, the chimera is an entity or piece of tissue made up of two cell populations of distinct genotypes, arising from two distinct zygotes: thus within one individual here is the coexistence of cells with alien DNA baggage. In everyday language, be it in English or French, the word chimera denotes an illusion impossible to attain in reality. Finally, in the field of psychoanalysis, Michel de M’Uzan uses the word “chimera” to denote the inter-space of the transference as an autonomous dynamic born of the analytical encounter. It is in this last sense that I propose to use it in the field of analytical psychology, to emphasize the autonomous dynamics of the transference, as well as the fact the it emerges from the encounter of the analyst with the analysand as a new psychic reality. That is also why, in this text, I talk about it as a neo-reality or a neo-system. These points are developed in my 2006 and 2008 papers.

Jung’s original intuition about the analysis of the transference was to highlight the deep role the analyst plays in the treatment process. It was probably his misadventures with Sabina Spielrein which gave rise to his painful awareness of this, as witnessed in his correspondence with Sabina and with Freud. It caused him to ask Freud to include a period of personal analysis in psychoanalytic training, which was granted. At the root of the affair was obviously his realization that the transference not only unfolds in the patient but also in the analyst; hence, his use of the notion of participation mystique, a term coined by Lévy-Bruhl.

My argument for the concept of a transferential chimera was motivated by the perceived need to add a further dimension to Jung’s approach. It seems to me that the phenomenon of the transference is not only largely unconscious, but it is moreover, independent in part, both of the analysand and his analyst. It appears from my clinical experience, that the encounter between the analyst and the analysand may in fact be the basis of an emergent psychical neo-reality, with its own logic, its own evolution and its own way of functioning relatively independently of the two protagonists involved in the treatment. Put another way, if participation mystique is an essential part of the transference as Jung predicated, then it is likely to be the source of an emergent psychical dynamic which will have a considerable bearing on the direction that the relationship between the analyst and analysand might take.

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Full sample chapter available at the Fisher King Press link.