11923 Chapters
Medium 9781782201038

Chapter Eighteen - Dreams (1998)

Talamo, Parthenope Bion Karnac Books ePub

Let's begin with “blinding ourselves” so that we can see better. Bion never actually wrote anything specific or systematic about dreaming. After the 1960s, he wrote little that was apparently systematic. The famous “trilogy” is not in fact a systematisation, even though it may draw a great deal on his previous thought. But in this “trilogy” one of the clear things, which he drops eventually, allows us to see that Bion's ideas on dreams were different from Freud's. I am quoting from the second volume of A Memoir of the Future:

“‘I won't wish you sweet dreams,’ says Alice, ‘because as P. A.’—the Psychoanalyst, another of the characters—‘would say, the dreams are always sweet by the time we have verbalised them.’ Then the Psychoanalyst who is Bion replies: ‘Not I—Freud.’ That is, Freud's idea of the dream was that once we have managed to verbalise the dream we have sweetened it, some with sugar, some with a more artificial sweetener, but at any rate we make it relatively nice. Bion says that this is something that Freud says, not he, and it is from here that we derive the idea of what a dream is, what the function of the dream is and how it works.

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Medium 9781855758476

CHAPTER THREE: I don’t know

Eigen, Michael Karnac Books ePub

My purpose in writing this chapter is to dignify and celebrate the phrase, I don’t know. It has a long, rich cultural heritage. Yet, in political practice and everyday life, it often is denigrated, as if those who seek or hold power, whether in family, work, or politics, are phobic about not knowing. They fear that appearing not to know would compromise their position and precipitate a slide down the ladder of esteem.

We are urged, from school on, not to be ashamed of not knowing. We are told that not knowing makes learning possible, part of the process of getting to know. Yet, few of us escape childhood without being shamed for not knowing. I doubt many go through school without many kinds of humiliation, not least involving damage to fear of not knowing.

We learn early to cover up deficits. An illiterate delinquent may hide his incapacity with increased bravado and destructive acts. It is a funny kind of learning, making believe we know more or are better, stronger or more able than we know we are. I remember volunteering to tie someone’s shoelace in kindergarten, although I did not know how. The teacher treated me rather well, but the event stuck like glue in my mind. I wondered over many years why I had the need to do that. I knew I could not tie the shoe. Yet, I needed to seem as if I did, even though the result must be failure. I was caught between fantasy and reality, hung by my own mind.

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Medium 9781855756571

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: Purging as embodiment

Karnac Books ePub

Purging as embodiment

Katie Gentile, Ph.D. Introducing patrice

Patrice enters my office at the college appearing agitated, but I am never sure because identifying her affect is like seeing turbulent water through a frozen glass surface.

“I’m pregnant and I’m getting married in two weeks”, she says flatly. I’m stunned, panicked.

“Slow down”, I say, with a lot of affect, acting as if she’s racing when only I am. She is sitting as still as a boulder, just like usual. “Let’s take one thing at a time. You’re pregnant?”


“How far along?”

“A few weeks”.

“Ok. What do you want to do about it?”

“What do you mean?”

This chapter was part of the Gender Section panel organized by Virginia Goldner on the contributions of feminist psychoanalysts. I thank her for her important feedback on the presentation, and of course, for her seminal contributions to feminist psychoanalysis.

There are usually three to four young women who are mothers, most without partners, in the classes I teach. I typically sign withdrawal slips for some of these women who must drop the class. If not, I watch them struggle through it, juggling studying, at least one job, and parenting. I also see them succeeding, but I fear how Patrice will respond to these pressures. I witness how quickly she dissolves in the face of interpersonal conflict, and how she seems resigned to obey even the most outrageously ridiculous demands of her mother and her boyfriend, Anthony. When she utters those words—”pregnant” and “married”—her future flies before my eyes, my gut clenches and I melodramatically see only the tragedy of yet another a smart young woman stalled in reaching her educational and professional goals.

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Medium 9781780490571

Chapter Six - The Avoidance of Feeling

Miller, J.F. Karnac Books ePub


The avoidance of feeling

We have referred on several occasions previously to there being different kinds of learning and knowledge. This is a very profound and fundamental question, which is at the heart of human experience, and it would not be an exaggeration to suggest that it might hold the key to the fate of civilisation and the survival of our species.

Stripped down to its bare essentials, the key issue is that thinking—if we go beyond pure cognition—is essentially an active, conscious activity which involves a feeling of being in control and understanding, while feeling is essentially an experience of engaging with an emotional response. As I find myself saying to all my analytical patients, at one time or another, we do not have feelings so much as they have us. Our feelings are like the weather—they happen whether we like it or not and we have no control over them: our only options are to heed and respond to them, or to ignore and override them.

For various reasons, it is human nature always to want to be in control. Consequently, the more the capacity for thought has evolved, and the more it has borne fruit (control over the environment, agriculture, the Industrial Revolution, and technology) the stronger has been the inclination to ignore and override the feeling side of experience. As soon as human beings began to become chronically out of touch with their feelings side, they began to denigrate and be suspicious of it.

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Medium 9781782200345

Chapter Seven: Transition to Parenthood: Studies of Intersubjectivity in Mothers and Fathers

Karnac Books ePub

Massimo Ammaniti, Cristina Trentini, Francesca Menozzi, and Renata Tambelli


Recent developments in different areas of research, psychoanalysis, infant research, cognitive neuroscience, and developmental science, highlight the dynamic, intersubjective sense of personality organised in term of “self-with-other” (Ammaniti & Trentini, 2009).

The evolution of the human species attuned human mothers, both psychologically and neurobiologically, to the smell and the sounds of the baby, and to his expressions and behaviours; in this way, mothers can immediately understand when they need to intervene to protect or feed the baby, who is immature and helpless. At the same time, babies with higher ability in tuning and understanding others have been favoured by natural selection, gaining a better chance of survival. For this reason, human infants are very social from their birth and develop that human-specific ability to read intentions and participate in collaborative activities defined by shared goals and intentions (Tomasello, 1999; Tomasello, Carpenter, Call, Behne & Moll, 2005).

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