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Medium 9781855755123

7. The collective dimensions of trauma

Ahlberg, Nora Karnac Books ePub

Violation of Ritual and Ritual Emotion

I will now again shift focus to include the issue of whether the changes in living conditions, which have provoked such traumatic experiences in the clients, are in any way related to collective ritual requirements of the ingroups at issue. The psychological foundations of rites de passage have long been debated within the history of religion and related subjects.1 The significance of such rites for facilitating emotional readjustment to a new life situation has been particularly stressed. However, the available material has been able to verify this only indirectly as it has mainly consisted of merely observing the rituals or collecting traditional lore.

The interpretation of emotions raises particular problems in cultural research because of its primary preoccupation with collective analyses. The emotional reactions of the individual therefore remain largely outside the scope of ethnographers’ focus. Although researchers such as Clifford Geertz (1973) and Victor Turner (1969; 1974; 1979: 1991) have suggested that ritual symbols affect the way individuals experience their world, they have not looked in detail at the individual subject in order to substantiate their ideas. Since the functions of rites are frequently depicted as dependent on personal meaning, the perspective of participatory observation is not sufficient ground on which to base an analysis.

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Medium 9781855752153

5. Summary

Gordon, Rosemary Karnac Books ePub

To sum up: It is my principal thesis that those who would die well and those who would create well are people who must be capable of being open and available both to the life forces and the death forces; and so they are available on the one hand to the processes of differentiation and integration, and on the other, to the processes of de-differentiation. In other words, they are people who can think and test and learn and assume control and responsibility, but they can also let go of these faculties and bear doubt and chaos and not-knowing, without excessive panic or pain or resentment. In other words, they are people who can sacrifice their phantasies of omnipotence. Instead they can learn, acquire skills, concentrate and take account of both extra- and intra-psychic reality; and they can also make themselves available to feelings of awe and wonder, which are the acknowledgment and the experience of mystery.

Only through more discussion, however, a greater pooling of clinical data and further study of biographies, can we hope to discover whether, in fact, the person who can live and work creatively is also able to die creatively.

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Medium 9781782201687

14 - Defences against Anxiety in the Law

Karnac Books ePub

Jon Stokes

The nature of work

Work provides a sense of self-efficacy and self-worth, but it also entails anxiety. The anxiety may be personal, with roots in past personal experiences or in the personality. It may be collective, with its source in group dynamics or emotional contagion. Frustrations, which work (the tie to reality, as Freud described it) necessarily entail, generates anxiety. The work itself arouses feelings and may stimulate anxieties through contact with frightening experiences—for example, in nursing, contact with physically damaged individuals, or, in the police, contact with physically dangerous individuals, as a toxic element and against which defence is appropriate. All work entails some anxiety in the sense of something incomplete that needs to be completed and the exercise of decision and discretion in achieving this (Stokes, 1999). Even a task as simple as sweeping the floor involves choices. We each sweep a floor in our own way, expressing attitudes to cleanliness, order, and aesthetics.

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Medium 9781855758896

CHAPTER EIGHT. The child and seduction

Karnac Books ePub

Michael Plastow

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, we are witness to a culture of the blame of the Other for one’s suffering. Amongst some of our colleagues we hear cries of “sexual abuse” or any other variety of “abuse” on the basis of particular symptoms or certain clinical presentations such as anorexia nervosa or “borderline personality disorder” which is said to be “emerging” when the presentation does not conform to the manual and the patient is a minor. In such cries we note an excessive insistence on history, as well as a conflation of history with the cause of the suffering of the child.

Such an insistence on history is also found in Freud’s formulation of the seduction hypothesis. Here we can examine the relevance and place of the seduction hypothesis and its abandonment to psychoanalysis and clinical practice today. In doing so we can assert that these are essential components of each and every analysis.

Let us then revisit the seduction hypothesis and its abandonment from this angle. In 1896, in a series of papers, Freud presented a theory about hysteria which became known as the “seduction hypothesis”.2According to this hypothesis the existence and symptomatology of hysteria found their origin in infantile sexual experiences. These “experiences” though were not able to be remembered by Freud’s patients but were “unconscious” and elicited through his treatment of them. Nonetheless it was the father of the patient who was primarily implicated in such scenes of seduction.

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Medium 9781910444160

CAPÍTULO 5 - Tres años observando infantes con la señora Bick

Jeanne Magagna Ediciones Karnac ePub

Jeanne Magagna

Hace algunos años, en 1981, la señora Martha Harris, jefa del departamento de Psicoterapia del Niño, que en ese tiempo era la tutora organizadora del Curso de Psicoterapia del Niño en la Tavistock, me pidió que me hiciera cargo de un seminario de observación de infantes para trabajadoras sociales. Aunque había observado un bebé anteriormente, me sentí inadecuada para la tarea, por lo que le pedí a la señora Bick supervisar mi observación de un bebé recién nacido. En 1948, cuando comenzó a enseñar en la Clínica Tavistock, incluyó en el método de formación de psicoterapeutas visitas a una familia para observar el desarrollo de un infante desde el nacimiento hasta los dos años de edad. En este capítulo describo su método de observación de infantes.

Comencé la observación de un infante y su familia cuando la señora Bick tenía 79 años de edad. Esta fue su última experiencia formal de enseñanza. La señora Bick había publicado para entonces tres artículos sobre la importancia de la observación de infantes y ella estaba sumamente interesada en lograr que la observación de infantes contribuyera al trabajo psicoanalítico. Era bien conocida entre sus ex alumnos por sus estándares extremadamente exigentes para la observación. La señora Bick estaba entusiasmada por tener cada pequeño detalle de la observación para poder experimentar con claridad prusiana la relación entre el bebé y su familia. Yo era consciente de que ella se enfrentaba el final de su vida mientras que el bebé comenzaba la suya. Me parecía que su propio “contacto interno” con las ansiedades de morir, le permitían dar vida con máxima sensibilidad a los miedos de desintegración del bebé. La señora Bick tenía tal entusiasmo por la observación de infantes que de algún modo mi supervisión individual con ella se convirtió en un seminario de seis a 13 psicoterapeutas de niños, que estaban haciendo su segunda observación de un infante. Un año de observación se extendió a tres años de observaciones semanales, que presenté en el seminario.

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Medium 9781855750869

15. Technical Difficulties in the Analysis of a Case of Hysteria. [1919]

Ferenczi, Sandor Karnac Books ePub

{Including Observations on Larval Forms of Onanism and Onanistic Equivalents ‘)

A PATIENT who was endeavouring with great intelligence and much zeal to carry out the directions for psychoanalytic treatment, and who left nothing to be desired in the way of theoretical insight, nevertheless, after a certain degree of improvement, probably due to the first transference, made no progress for a long time.

As the proceedings made absolutely no headway, I decided on extreme measures and fixed a date up to which I would continue to treat her, in the expectation that by this means I should provide her with an adequate incentive to effort. Even this, however, proved only of temporary assistance; she soon relapsed into her former inactivity, which she concealed behind her transference love. The hours went by in passionate declarations of love and entreaties on her side, and in fruitless endeavours on mine to get her to understand the transference nature of her feelings, and to trace her affects to their real but unconscious object. On the completion of the period set I discharged her un-cured. She herself was quite content with her improvement.

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Medium 9781782204954

Chapter Two - Neuroscience of the Mind

Hall, Rebecca; Steiner, Hans Karnac Books ePub

Research in neuroscience has greatly contributed to our understanding of the mind and brain. We now know a great deal more than in Sigmund Freud's time, though in truth, many aspects of consciousness and the unconscious remain a mystery. Opinions on the neurological basis of consciousness vary widely, from Francis Crick and Christof Koch's theory that consciousness is localized to a specific, small part of the brain called the claustrum, to Gerald Edelman's proposal that consciousness is distributed across the entire brain and that all neurons participate. In fact, consciousness is still an area of active debate (see Carroll, 2016 and Strawson, 2016). The full story of how the mind neurologically functions and produces consciousness will likely not be understood for another fifty to 200 years. However, despite these current limitations in knowledge, the extremely complicated neurological story of the mind is beginning to unfold, providing exciting insight into how different cognitive and emotional processes are formed and controlled.

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Medium 9781855753341

CHAPTER THREE: The Caledonian tragedy

Karnac Books ePub

Peter Hildebrand

During the course of Ronald Harwood’s play and film, The Dresser, a leading character, the famous actor manager called ‘Sir’, inadvertently quotes Macbeth in his dressing room at the theatre. His dresser is horrified and implores him to take the appropriate action to exorcise the ill fortune that he fears will ensue. ‘Sir’ refuses, and after a brilliant performance of King Lear suddenly dies near the end of the play. We, the audience, are expected to assume that this is due in part to his action in quoting Macbeth and not then taking the appropriate steps to counteract the ill fortune that could follow.

The Dresser offers a good modern example of the theatrical superstitions that surround the tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare. In a recent book entitled The Curse of Macbeth, Ronald Huggett (1981), gave some fifty pages of material describing how the play is regarded as unlucky or even accursed in the acting profession. Thus, the actors must never refer to the name of the play within a theatre. It is always called “The Scottish Play” or “Harry Lauder” or “That Play” or “The Unmentionable” or “The Caledonian Tragedy”. Macbeth is associated with every possible form of ill fortune in the theatrical profession. When it is played, there is a history of theatres collapsing, actors falling ill, being injured in stage fights, running away, breaking down and actresses miscarrying. Famous actors and actresses playing the leading roles are reputed to have died soon after the play opened and the runs of many productions are associated with catastrophic experiences for members of the cast. Theatrical people, because of Macbeth’s popularity, expected their companies to close when the play was put on, as it was usually regarded as a last resort by the management of a failing group to try and get an audience into the theatre. There have been actual deaths in stage duels and The Royal Shakespeare Theatre itself, at Stratford-on-Avon, burned down in the 1930s on the night following a performance of Macbeth.

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Medium 9781855751453

3 A re-evaluation of acting out in relation to working through

Limentani, Adam Karnac Books ePub

IT SEEMS LOGICAL that any discussion on acting out, in order to be meaningful, would have to be related to the concept of ‘working through’. There are few aspects of our daily analytical work which are more challenging than acting out and more directly pointing to the necessity and arduousness of working through the patient’s resistances, as Freud (1914) has warned us. The problem is not only that the tendency to act out needs constant attention by the analyst but also that disturbing episodes of acting out may well occur in the course of working through anxieties and conflicts under apparently quite satisfactory circumstances. I am referring to those optimal conditions where analyst and patient work well together and, of course, where the analyst has in no way contributed to force the patient to act out as a result of his own incompetence or because of the persistence of unresolved conflicts in himself. However, it would be fair to say that there are many instances when the analyst may unwittingly play a part. The experienced analyst is not only disappointed at seeing years of insightful working through wasted but may even come to the conclusion that the patient’s resistances are intractable to the point of abandoning analysis.

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Medium 9781855755758

CHAPTER THREE: Perceptive identification

Bollas, Christopher Karnac Books ePub

Psychoanalysts are familiar by now with the theory of projective identification even if they do not agree with it. The aim P of this brief essay is to propose another concept—perceptive identification—to make a distinction in object relations theory.

The term projective identification is often used to describe the projection of unwanted (not necessarily bad) parts of a personality either into an internal object or into an actual other, or both. It may be a way of evacuating and storing parts of a self—which serves many functions. The self may be denuded by off-loading such parts, but they can be contacted through forms of psychic remote-control.

The concept of projective identification is often used to explain how the self can identify empathically with the other. Think of Hamlet. We can become Hamlet mentally because—Oedipal creatures that we are—we project ourselves into his character.

A problem with this singular concept of identification, however, is that it runs the risk of assuming that Hamlet exists because we have created him through our projections. First, Hamlet has to exist before we can project ourselves into him.

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Medium 9781855750623

3. Primary object-love and primary affectional bonds

Hamilton, Victoria Karnac Books ePub

Michael Balint

Michael Balint, who was born in Budapest in 1896 and was analysed by one of Freud’s earliest followers and colleagues, Sandor Ferenczi, was one of the foremost pioneers of the object-relations school. Together with the Scottish psychoanalyst, W. R. D. Fairbairn, he might be regarded as the forerunner of the British ‘Middle Group’ of analysts - a group which continues to play an important role in the integration and clarification of Freudian and Kleinian theory. In 1939, Balint came to England, where he made important contributions both to the developing theory of psychoanalysis and to general psychiatry and medicine. He is particularly well-known for his innovative groups for general practitioners; through these groups, which were attended by doctors from all over Britain, Balint was able to bring psychiatric and psychoanalytic insights into the lives of the general public (Balint, 1957). Balint’s relational concept of ‘primary love’ brought an entirely new perspective to the theory of infancy and a focus on relationships which was quite different to that of Anna Freud and Melanie Klein. Ferenczi had made a particular study of mother-child relations and his interest in the strength of the mother-infant relationship continued to inspire the Hungarian school of psychoanalysts centred in Budapest. Ferenczi introduced the phrase ‘passive object-love’ to describe the infant’s self-centred, but absolutely dependent, love for the mother. In the 1930s, Michael Balint, his wife, Alice, and colleague, I. Hermann, published a series of papers in which they emphasised the importance of the infant’s primary instinct to cling. Hermann observed clinging and grasping movements in the early weeks of the life of infant apes and human babies. He did not postulate that these behaviours were evidence of a primary object-relationship, but Alice and Michael Balint combined his observations with Ferenczi’s concept of passive object-love to form their new concept of ‘primary object-love’. Primary object-love acknowledges the active role played by the infant, illustrated by his clinging tie to the mother. Primary love is thus descriptive of an active love of the mother. The Balints’ view of a primary object-relationship is similar to that of Melanie Klein in that the infant is active and his love is egocentric. However, although unaware of his mother’s interests, the infant’s relationship is neither destructive nor dominated by orality.

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Medium 9781855757806


Karnac Books ePub

Alessandra Lemma

There is the story of an elderly Jewish wife who calls downstairs to her husband, “Harry, come upstairs and make T love.” After a pause, the sorrowful reply is made: “Sarah, I can’t do both.”

As Freud (1927d) so helpfully highlighted, humour is the most sophisticated defensive manoeuvre at our disposal to cope with the realities of the human condition. He did not view humour as an “escape” as such, but, at its best, more as a capacity within the self to be regarded far more positively than just as “another defence”. He believed that humour was a mature adaptation because it makes it possible to find an alternative between suffering and its denial. Indeed, one of the constants in life, cutting across historical periods and cultures, has been the function of the “comic spirit” as a way of managing the inescapable difficulty of being. In his own way, Charlie Chaplin recognized this essential function. “Humour,” he said, “is a kind of gentle and benevolent custodian of the mind which prevents us from being overwhelmed by the apparent seriousness of life” (quoted in Boskin, 1987, p. 154).

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Medium 9781883881269

21. The Gifts of the Saturnalian King

Eric Rhode Eric Rhode Ebook ePub

The kachina dances are perhaps the most beautiful of Zuñi ceremonies. Instituted according to tradition solely as a means of enjoyment, they became the most potent of rain-making rites, for since the divine ones no longer come in the flesh, they come in their other bodies, that is as rain. (Bunzel, p. 517.)



The depressive and the paranoid-schizoid twins appear in Zuñi mythology in relation to water as a maternal element. Gods who embody the rain represent the depressive twin, while the murdered kachina children who live beneath the surface of a lake represent the paranoid-schizoid type of twin, who has the power to abduct living children and even to become them.

Lévi-Strauss (1952) makes this point in “Le Père Noël supplicié,” a paper that does not appear in the collections of his papers. On 2 December 1951 the ecclesiastical authorities of Dijon burnt Father Christmas in effigy; they had hoped to end a growing “Père Noel” cult in France. Lévi-Strauss saw the authorities as re-enacting the divine-king sacrifice of the king of the Saturnalia, but without any awareness of what they were up to. He indicated a structural analogy between the masked Pueblo Indians who enact the kachina ceremonies and Father Christmas as a deteriorated representative of divine kingship.

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Medium 9781855758148

CHAPTER ONE: Experimental psychology and psychoanalysis: what we can learn from a century of misunderstanding

Karnac Books ePub

Paul Whittle

This paper is a personal and informal ethnography of the subcultures of psychoanalysis and experimental psychology. It is a case study in incommensurability, and was written out of frustration with the incomprehension that each side displays toward the other. The two disciplines shared many common origins, but each now views the other, by and large, with indifference or hostility. I sketch some reasons why their relationship generates discussions, such as those concerning the scientific status of psychoanalysis, that are like trains passing in the dark. I make some tentative suggestions as to why we may always need such different styles of psychology, and for what different goals, and personal and sociological reasons, we have developed them. I make even more tentative suggestions as to what, if anything, we should do about it.

*This paper was first presented to the Zangwill Club of the Department of Experimental Psychology, Cambridge University, in April 1994. Since it derives its structure and its liveliness from the occasion, it is being published as a record of the talk, with informal style and local allusions, rather than in more conventional journal-article format.

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Medium 9781912567126

3. The Klein-Bion Expansion of Freud's Metapsychology

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Sigmund Freud's genius was a child of its time and he was naturally preoccupied with the current scientific developments and psychotherapeutic methods. He wanted to create an explanatory science which could prove things. He naturally looked upon the mind and brain as phenomenologically identical and was preoccupied with a neurophysiological model, with ‘hydrostatics’, with the Darwinian framework of evolution applied to the mind. This model drew on comparative anatomy, embryology and, unfortunately, archaeology, backed by the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, to frame a metaphor which was mistaken for a theory. While these gave him tremendously useful tools they also imposed their limitations when treated as theoretical hypotheses requiring experimental proof.

This model of the mind, which is made explicit (as preconceptions) in the ‘Project for a Scientific Psychology’, did indeed stay with him all his life. It was a model that was bound, by its own structure, to impose on him a view of mental life in which he could not possibly have believed but that he nonetheless used as a basis for scientific work. It viewed the life of the mind as bound to the body and its needs, and thus engaged upon finding means to gratify these needs without running into an absolute confrontation with the environment, human and non-human. Freud eventually also came upon evidence of another agency that the personality has to satisfy, that is the agency of the conscience, of the superego. His picture of the personality was a slightly sad one as spelt out in The Ego and the Id. He pictured the ego as serving three masters – the id (the instincts), the outside world, and the superego. Using all the tricks and devices of its intelligence to outwit these three masters, the ego sought to find some kind of balance, a peaceful co-existence. When Freud later came to formulate the theory of the life and death instincts, it appeared that the very purpose of life was to die peacefully. It does not matter that he could not possibly have believed this, but as a scientist he worked at his assumptions and hypotheses, pursued them relentlessly, and produced an imposing and substantial foundation for the science.

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