PLEASE FOLLOW THE ABOVE LINK TO THE EXHIBIT ANNOUNCEMENT AND PAINTINGS…
VERY PROUD OF MY HUSBAND LEONARD GRECO …. and my friend and colleague Leslie Howard, also a visual artist.
Should be an great time, sorry I will be out of town…..
PLEASE FOLLOW THE ABOVE LINK TO THE EXHIBIT ANNOUNCEMENT AND PAINTINGS…
VERY PROUD OF MY HUSBAND LEONARD GRECO …. and my friend and colleague Leslie Howard, also a visual artist.
Should be an great time, sorry I will be out of town…..
The MAP is NOT the TERRITORY.
So, how does one co-ordinate (both locate and bear) being with oneself and the analytic object (better to call it a subject?) without addiction to one’s maps — and the circles and lines (concepts) used to draw those maps up?
Reading this third seminar I am once again confronted with an experience akin to being in biology class looking at a drop of pond water under a microscope: overwhelmed with the perception of multiple layers of enticing stuff going on, overlapping zones of interaction, and yet restricted by my human limitations to focusing on one layer at a time, and having to pick which layer to begin with if I really want to make some meaningful sense of the experience. I have to locate and co-ordinate myself with/to what I co-ordinate as it unfolds before my eyes.
I’d like to ask Dr. Bion if he can tell us more about his idea on the countertransference, because it seems to me that this is the particular type of noise in the analyst’s mind that can be picked up in the psychoanalytic experience. I wonder if it might also contain musical elements, and if so if we should adjust our minds like high-fidelity systems that can not only extract the signal from the noise, but also act like a resonance chamber and allow us to receive the entire range of acoustic stimuli, even if that means that the clarity of the melody is lost.
Based on Bion’s responses to this question, I think it struck him as a “-K” question where as Bion’s aim and focus is on “K” questions, questions that are passionate attempts to grasp real analytic experiences (moments of growth) which emerge from the unknown. It involves being emotionally present with an Other who is not oneself, and the ideas that emerge organically and spontaneously from such an Encounter (in Buber’s sense of that term). Such moments of being lead to emotional re-experiencing and the spontaneous growth of new ideas.
In this regard, perhaps one can read the question as an association. The unconscious subject of the questioner’s mind is in effect texting Bion about the countertransference noise that Bion will be able to pick up in Bion’s psychoanalytic experience of his interlocutor’s question. The second sentence, on this reading, then, is the “noise” he is putting into Bion (projective identification – shout out to S.F.). Moreover, this noise relation is quite omnipotent: his interlocutor wants to be a “resonance chamber” who can “receive the ENTIRE range of acoustic stimuli.” The effect of this would be to kill any real affective link (the “melody”), because it’s not addressed to the flesh and blood Bion – today’s unfolding Bion — but yesterday’s Bion, now idealized or ossified in memory and desire. Not so much about approaching O, but, perhaps, soothing or inciting himself with the sensations of cleverness (autistic shapes).
In his reply, Bion first acknowledges the historical-conceptual importance of the terms ‘transference’ and ‘countertransference’, but quickly qualifies this praise with, “But, like every really good idea, like anything which provokes or stimulates growth, it makes itself out of date at once.” He goes on to describe the real analytic experience of transference (the territory) to emphasize how there is a substantial caesura between the ontological or being level of the experience and the concept (the map) we use to give a handle to it for the purposes of everyday talk. He emphasizes that, “if you are, in fact, having a psychoanalytic experience — that is different.”
After a time, though, the novice begins to understand that the analyst is drawing attention to an actual [transference] experience which he is having…. Your feeling that I am your father or mother can be compared with other ideas you have: you can bring together the idea that I am your mother or father and the idea that I am a stranger whom you do not know. Then you can decide for yourself who or what you really think I am — that is your affair. In that way a new idea is born. The idea that you had before — namely, that I am a blood relation, a father or mother — is transient; it is a temporary idea on the journey of your life…. It is an idea that you have “on the way” — you transfer it to me as a temporary measure on your way to what you really think or feel…. It is another of these places where you stop on your own particular journey…. Where you are now, when you have just seen this point, is already out of date.
Two different “thoughts” beget a new experience which begets new ideas, etc. But these “thoughts” are themselves lived experiences first that take shape on the way to becoming ideas that can have transformative potential. In terms of Existential-Phenomenology, the lived-experience or ontological level, is “pre-thematic”. Once a lived experience is brought into language it is “thematized” (conceptually can be mapped) at a conscious level of knowing.
An implicit model here (from what I recall in Bion’s ELEMENTS of his rethinking the relationship of Unconscious to Consciousness and the Dream Function) seems to be that real analytic experience fosters a “binocular” awareness of the ever circulating kaleidoscope of infantile impressions and urges grasping reality from the right, so to speak, as well as the disciplined contemplation of these impressions along with those of reason and language, grasping reality simultaneously from the left (Grotstein’s “binary oppositional grasp”). And from the proper alignment of this dual grasping — of the permeable, selective CONTACT BARRIER — growth (spontaneous unfolding/revealing) happens. [Footnote: In a future post I will posit that the moment of this proper alignmnet corresponds to what Meg Harris Williams calls the experience of a “moment of being” in her brilliant analysis of psychoanalytic autobiography.]
Once the patient begins to understand what the analytic experience is, then he changes so fast that what he thought or felt at the beginning of a sentence is out of date by the time he has reached the end of it. That is why, when you are satisfied the patient is actually developing, it is as well to be able to forget what you know and discard what you want to happen …. we are liable to slow the patient down by clinging to out-of-date ideas and, as a result, are unable to watch the patient’s progress to some other idea”[point of growth experience]
So, having emphasized that the lived territory is the point and not the map, Bion seems to pivot and talk about the need to avoid missing the patient and the analytic experience by loosing the analytic discipline: the challenge of using our affective receptivity, our task of ‘feeling out’ our patients, so to speak, yet not getting lost in how the ‘facts’ of their being stimulate us one way or the other ideationally, moralistically, or otherwise. Such internal distractions risk taking our mental-emotional focus off the point of unfolding, emerging growth (O). This is the pursuit of analytic Truth, in the Greek sense of Truth (Aletheia), which is a REVEALING, a process, not a static dead correspondence of map to territory. This is also the Aesthetic and Phenomenological sense of Truth – letting what “shows itself show itself in the very way it shows itself from itself.”
It is interesting that Bion ends his series of (K) answers to the above (-K) question using the mathematical model of the circle and it’s tangent to explicate something of the nature of the analytic pair. It is a somewhat ambiguous explication, but I think the following aspects are at least arguable (though I am sure many other ways to read it)
Have we any coordinate system which could give us an idea to where we are, where, the pair are — the analyst and the patient? In the narrative story we get an idea of a person’s development by taking any two points, A and B, and the direction would be from A to B. Those two points, A and B, we could call “real and distinct”. However, suppose those two points were mobile; then they might travel round the circumference of a circle and become “real and coincident”, And if we try to draw in the two points which are real and coincident, we can say that they meet and describe a line which is a tangent.
So far, Bion is talking about the circle and tangent as a representation of the patient and the patient’s growth. Point A is the forever embryo or infant of the patient’s unconscious – the point at which the patient was “born” as a soul, that “tiny survival” that as analysts Bion says we aim to try and “breath life into” (cf, Seminar One). Point B is the patient in the immediate here and now, and when these two points become infinitesimally close, as if to be the same (coincident), we can draw a line between them and a new direction – the tangent – is created that is also at the same time part of the curve of the circle (thanks to calculus). Like the “new idea” Bion mentions in the extended quote above, this new line extending from these points “transfers” or goes “off at a tangent”, so to speak, at the moment of analytic experience, of psychic birth “on the way” to a new experience or “point” in the persons going-on-being (Winnicott) of “their journey.” [Note: This figuration harkens back as an illustration of Bion’s comment at the end of the Second Italian Seminar: “A difficulty would arise if we could introduce this intelligent postnatal person to the highly intelligent embryo who could tell such very different stories…”]
Yet, at the same time this tangent-line juncture seems to represent the analytic pair, he continues in the next paragraph:
Take these two people — the analyst and the analysand — who have met at one point. I don’t know what spiritual route the analyst has taken, the journey that his mind has taken between the point at which it is supposed to begin its existence and the point at which it became coincident with an entirely different personality — coincident and real. Let us suppose that these two points go on with their journey: the analyst and the analysand continue to live; they don’t stop at psychoanalysis; they don’t stop at this point at which they are real and coincident. I was taught to call that “conjugate complex” …. I use these two words “conjugate complex” as imaginary points…. In that way I think we ought to consider, as if it were real, that the analyst and analysand still continue to exist even when the analysis is over, when those two points, which are real and distinct, real and coincident in the analyst’s consulting room, continue in a space about which I know nothing because that mind which is no longer in contact with me has gone I don’t know where.
I think Bion is trying to redirect the group to wonder about the imaginary and the ontological status of our pre-sedimented encounters with Others – where do these moments (“points”) of new being, born of inter-psychic encounter go such that we are left with the sediment of them, so to speak? Are we really only left with the sediment of their fleeting existence in the form of memories? How can/do these “out of date” points become us? Do they continue to operate once apart for both parties in parallel ways (as is implied by the mathematical analogy with conjugate (coupled) complex numbers)? Furthermore, is Bion only talking about the inner object world? Is this a kind of Metaphysical speculation about relations between a kind of personal unconscious and collective unconscious, personal O and impersonal O, as it were?
Unfortunately, this seminar’s original recording was incomplete, so perhaps this is too much like trying to interpret the meaning of a sentence when the predicate is missing, but based on the two questions that follow this quote, it seems the group disappoints him. Whatever Bion meant by his last question, he was posing a question of THE UNKNOWN, seeking, wondering, searching for it’s “pulse” as Meg Harris Williams might call it. The questions he receives, by contrast, seem to be grasping at some illusory KNOWN, wanting Bion to give them THE ANSWER or notarize their answer, as if there is ONE FINAL WORD to be had.
The second questioner wants Bion to “explain to me role of the human need to know” and “what part is played in the patient by the need to express his desire for knowledge to someone.” Bion replies:
I suspect that these are vestiges of fundamental characteristics which have not yet been destroyed either by the inability to tolerate ignorance or by the inability to tolerate the answer. The trouble about curiosity is that it is liable to provoke a response. From what I know about myself, the danger to which anybody exposes themselves by asking me a question is another flood of questions. I do try to resist the temptation to say, “Yes, I know; I know about transference; I know about countertransference.” I am partly assisted by the fact that I don’t know. That picture in which Nansen showed exactly how to get to the North Pole does not tell me — and I would never know — what it would be like to be Nansen wandering in the wastes of the Arctic. I only know a little bit about what it feels like to be me wandering in the realms of the human mind. One hopes that it is a relatively limited sphere — not quite so dangerous, perhaps, as wandering in the realms of omniscience or omnipotence.
So, Bion’s somewhat convoluted/cryptic responses seem to reflect both his wish to be polite and his disappointment, frustration, and even annoyance perhaps with the ongoing, palpable gap between himself and the group. It is as though he wants them to play with him in the unknown and they just aren’t able to meet him there, perhaps caught up in some kind of basic assumption group dysfunction, like looking to him to be the absolute authority and provide them with the omnipotent/omniscient answer – the “final word” on the matter so to speak, which is why he emphasizes that he doesn’t know and emphasizes that he is not omnipotent. This isn’t surprising since one of Bion’s main points through all of these seminars – in spirit if not in text – is that THERE IS NO FINAL WORD ON ANYTHING; the best we have are constantly changing approximations, since truth is a revealing and not a dead correspondence of a map to a territory. And the experience of analysis is being in, going through, giving language to and being changed by wandering with and through the patient’s unfolding unconscious emotional vicissitudes. If you get caught up in maps and mapping rather than the wandering then you may become famous but you’re venturing into the Arctic… (a cold, no-person’s land). “Remember what happened to the Titanic?” … It hit O and sank.
To be dominated or motivated by curiosity, by our wish to know, would seem to be a dangerous occupation, especially if we come across another mind which has the characteristic of omnipotence or omniscience …. As analysts we are always running the risk of questioning whoever or whatever is clothed in authority… arming ourselves by improving such minds or instruments as we have available for investigating the unknown.
This seems to be the main question animating Bion’s mind in response to the seminar participants’ so-called questions. I say “so-called” because one thing that has struck me is the way in which Bion, at least so far in these first two seminars, often times appears to not-answer the questioner at the content or locutionary level, yet in his ostensible manner of non-answering he clearly addresses how the questioner impacts him analytically, the perlocutionary dimension as it were. In this way it seems Bion is “doing” or “being” how he believes the analyst should do or be with the patient, rather than just “talking about it”. The “being it” is meaningful, the “talking about it” is not, or is certainly secondary at best. To the extent this hypothesis is correct, it would be consistent with Bion’s earlier (Attention and Interpretation, 1970) emphasis that what matters in psychoanalysis are transformations O => K, from the ontological or being domain to the domain of knowledge/understanding.
Here is an extended quote of the first question at the beginning of the seminar. I am quoting it in it’s entirety to give the reader the full impact:
Before yesterday’s seminar, I was curious to know what Dr Bion thought about music. I’d been reflecting on an analytic experience of mine when I felt that a woman patient preferred music to analysis and was trying and had begun — to find music in analysis too, for certain reasons: music banished visual experiences, especially terrifying ones associated with phobic space. She was able to dissolve the terrifying experiences of sounds by putting them together in a melody and using only certain sounds or certain limited pitches. If the music was broken down, the sounds took on a terrifying quality reminiscent of the terror of the visual, almost bodily , three-dimensional images of a claustrophobic space. But I had attributed this possibility of seeing terrifying images to her phantasy of a Cyclopean eye — the third mental eye that psychologists talk about — which she seems to see graphically before her.
An experience with another analysand puts me in mind of Ulysses, who turned himself into “Nobody” so as to not be seen and eaten by Polyphemus. So I wondered if Dr. Bion feels we can also invoke a Cyclopean perception that has to do with music and analysis, as some psychologists have demonstrated. Does Dr. Bion think there is any connection between all the problems of musicians who play without reading the notes and others who can only play if they have a score in front of them?
Bion’s begins to respond to this “question” by first pointing out that in analysis that the main reason any analysand comes in for treatment is because of internal conflict, “the real trouble is the patient’s dis-agreement with himself…. However, as a temporary affair, what you can see is something of the relationship between those two people — the analyst and the analysand.”
I would like to suggest that while Bion is ostensibly commenting in a general way on analytic praxis, he is also commenting on how the questioner has struck him — there is a questioner who is split and conflicted between a questioner-he who is looking for a meaningful link with Dr. Bion and a questioner-he who is producing noise that is barley intelligible and meant to distract or derail the possibility of a meaningful link. To put it another way, we might ask where is the “ghost in the puppet” here? I will try to substantiate this hypothesis by a kind of analytic reading (treating Bion’s responses as associative material) and at the same time trying to summarize the spirit of Bion’s ideas, particularly as they relate to lived clinical praxis.
Bion then goes onto to link this so-called question to his conception of REVERSIBLE PERSPECTIVE where the patient unconsciously (for the most part) operates from a model of what is happening between the analytic pair that is not the model from which the analyst operates and this results in impasse because nothing meaningful can be shared experientially; it’s aim to kill all emotional contact and dynamism, a sin qua non in operation behind what Joseph called PSYCHIC EQUILIBRIUM, I believe. Bion might say it represents the secret operation of the psychotic part of the personality, unbeknownst to the non-psychotic part, since it’s operation is a sign of underlying trauma and psychic pain. He does not use the term REVERSIBLE PERSPECTIVE as he does in ELEMENTS but what he describes to the audience is this phenomena, and more importantly, he offers a model for how to deal with it analytically:
Falling back on the report of what happened… what would happen to you if you were bombarded with words as this patient bombards his analyst?
Again, I think it is not much of a leap to suggest that Bion is describing his experience of the parallel process between the questioner and the questioner’s patient and the questioner and Bion. He feels bombarded by the question as I do reading it. It it like vomit dressed up as intelligent, even deep thought. It makes one try to make sense of it as if sense can be made, stimulating desire and memory along the way but in the end one comes up empty. Bion continues:
Suppose the analyst is sensitive to what he is seeing and being told by the patient — that is what we are theoretically supposed to be. Taking first of all the words: what — as far as the analyst is concerned — are the nerve endings which are being stimulated… the remnants of his classical education, knowledge of Greek mythology, knowledge of experience of any other culture. He is now free to show who he is by picking on, say, Greek mythology, or psychoanalytical theory or psychological theory. So from this point of view the analyst is invited to express his opinion of who he is.
So, this “bombardment” (a description of the perlocutionary effect of the communication) has an aim; it is designed to stimulate the analyst’s/Bion’s memory and desire to intrude into the analytic/seminar space, which is not the point of him being there in the seminar any more than it is appropriate analytically for the questioner with his patient. This is a primary function of REVERSIBLE PERSPECTIVE, to distract the analyst and provide the perversely destructive part of the patient with presumed evidence of the analyst’s anti-analytic motives — secretly the destructive part mis-interprets, for example, as if to say, “If I can trick you into being false you must have been a false object all along. I knew it! See there’s nothing/no one here for me as always! So, I need to repress and deny my need for good-breast-you there’s only a bad-self-absorbed one here!”
This reinforces the PATHOLOGICAL ORGANIZATION and leads to or sustains treatment impasse.
The patient is really giving a performance of a full operatic experience, of words and music. The problem is, what is the analyst to do? Whatever he does, the patient will have something to go on, something the patient can then himself interpret
He goes on to say that — and again it is quite ambiguous if he is just making a general comment or referring to his experience of the questioner — “Out of all this variety of material from which I am invited to choose, I would like to select what appears to me to be psychoanalytically relevant.”
So, how does one go about tuning into what is relevant through all the noise? His answer seems to be “reverie” or what he terms in this seminar “speculative imagination,” which requires:
the minimal condition for me to analyze that patient is to be allowed to remain silent, because I don’t want to add my noise to that which the patient is already making. If I am allowed more time to be silent, then I may be able to hear just a little bit more.
Bion then invites the reader to imagine that, “a group is almost like one person spread out over a space,” and to use this exercise when reflecting on the material presented in the question and ask, “who is this person who is saying, ‘terrified… terrified… terrified… terrible’?” This way of sifting through the material allows Bion to use a “selected fact” as both a way to separate out and organize the material, and a focal point for his analytic (intuitive) aperture, to stand in “Faith” (“the disciplined restraint of memory and desire”, cf ATTENTION AND INTERPRETATION) and wait for/catalyze the presencing of “that tiny survival”:
Having taken that sort of group view, narrow down your observation. At this point I would be paying much more attention to this “terrible” and listening to the occurrence, apparently, only of a word; but I would hope, if I am given a chance of remaining silent, to be able to detect a certain similarity about all these “terribles.” And then when I thought that things had gone far enough for me feel that I could formulate my observation, I would do so. But I would ignore all the rest of it.
Some remnant of nascent living-ness, that “tiny survival” who was unable to live is trying to communicate:
The same applies to patient who repeats “terrible, terrible”. And all that is said in a vague hope that somebody will turn up who will be able to understand what he is communicating and will be able to supply the correct mental nourishment. It is a matter of touch and go whether the patient will be able to come to analysis long enough to find out if it is worth doing.
Continuing with his “speculative imagination” Bion then reflects on the origins of this terror. He seems to refer to the battle between the nascent, sane, dependent part striving for contact, and the despair internally generated as a misguided protection by the pathological organization or in his vernacular, the psychotic personality, which using misinterpreting to seduce and or dominate the nascent aspects of self. I will cite at some length because his words are quite poignant:
From day to day, from free-association to free association, one is dealing with a little bit of that fundamental story. In the one instance there is this problem of how to find something to without getting eaten up in the process; in the other how to let anybody know that he is terrified, especially in a situation where there may be nobody. In this way both patients resort to a somewhat obscure, primitive and incomprehensible method of communication. Then they can feel, “Well, nothing comes of it, but it doesn’t matter. It’s not worse than it was before.” But if the analyst has been able to give enough interpretations to lead the patient to think there could be somebody who understands, then terror is released.
To make that point clearer, using a pictorial image: a part of five people were survivors of a shipwreck. The rest had died of starvation or had been swept overboard from the remnants of the raft. The experienced no fear whatsoever — but became terrified when the thought a ship was coming near. The possibility of rescue, and the ever greater possibility that their presence would not be noticed on the surface of the ocean, lead them to be terrified. Previously the terror had been sunk, so to speak, in the overwhelming depths of depression and despair.
So, the analyst , in the midst of the noises of distress, the failure of analysis, the uselessness of that kind of conversation, still needs to be able to hear this terror which indicates the position of a person beginning to hope that he might be rescued.
He returns to the metaphor of the shipwrecked to provide and emphasize his repeated caution of the dangers of those situations when the analyst and patient can become seduced into sensuous comfort by holding onto/focusing on what passes as thinking, understanding, insights, etc., (“cheap cures”), but what are really addictive comforts against awareness of the underlying primitive terrors, including dependency, uncertainty, and feelings of isolation.
He seems to be pointing to what Pascal articulated in his Pensees— existentially, we are all always already at sea — infinity small and vulnerable and surrounded by an infinitely unknowable reality — and that we’re addicted to distractions to take us away from brushing up against this sublime, terrifying, ineffable presencing. How do we try to allow a space for the who that matters to show up through tomorrow’s patient, when doing so puts us in touch with such abyss-mal dreads?
Later on, technique wise, Bion offers three, somewhat cryptic yet related statements:
It is necessary to give an interpretation which lets the patient have a chance of knowing that he has been understood, and a chance of feeling that he will not be incarcerated or devoured….
Whatever body of theory attracts you, you should consider whether there is room in it for the expansion of yourself…. If you find yourself speculating and imagining that this or that story is relevant, you should allow yourself to entertain that speculation in the hope that it might grow into a communicable idea.
It seems to me that Bion’s injunction to make sure that any formulation that one may form, like, become attached to, etc., ought to include the capacity for an “expansion of yourself” is key. Is the experience of an “expansion of yourself” his way of talking about “growth”? Perhaps it’s the equivalent for the analyst when he advises analysts to do in making interpretations to patients — that there be “room” in what one says so patients do not end up feeling “devoured or incarcerated.”
Lastly, the last question posed to Bion in this seminar brings him back to the issue of WHEN is the mind born? In terms of conducting analysis, both WHEN AND WHERE in the ever changing texture of unfolding clinical moments can one detect the edge of emergence, the presencing of Psyche communicating and disclosing, striving to be — finding recognition in being minded and forcing an expansion within each of us from inside out? As analysts, do we allow ourselves to be dreamed by the patient in a way that can upend and expand us???
And to what end? The end is not the analytic relationship it seems, but the use of the analyst, through the analytic relationship, by the patient and for the patient to restore communication and thereby growth within him or herself:
The highly intelligent embryo sees and experiences whatever it sees and experiences; the highly intelligent man or woman also give a very convincing account of what is taking place. A difficulty would arise if by chance we could introduce this highly intelligent postnatal person to the highly intelligent embryo who could tell such very different stories, different narratives about the same facts.
While this copy does no justice to the original, I hope one can get some sense of how Gaitonde (one of India’s most famous Modernist painters) is able to convey the spiritual dimension in his “non-objective” art, the term he preferred to “abstract”, implying that something specific was there even if you couldn’t see it. What seems to be ‘there’ is some ineffable subject grasping you as the viewer as you try to grasp it, something palpable beyond the sensible, so to speak. The feeling of being in front of these paintings is more in quality like that of encountering sculpture – one grasps (is grasped by) the work in a kind of visceral, three-dimensional way. It is more like an full-being encounter than just visual looking… Some friends of ours described the experience as feeling as though someone was looking or speaking to you.
When visiting his retrospective at the Guggenheim this past Christmas, it struck me that Gaitonde had captured two dimensionally the analytic-aesthetic dimension Bion seems to be advocating as the proper analytic aperture.
V. S. Gaitonde (1924-2001): Painting as Process, Painting as Life” continues through Feb. 11 at the Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, at 89th Street; 212-423-3500; guggenheim.org.
In this first seminar, Bion, on one level, seems to be laying out some of the contours of his psychoanalytic phenomenology. By this I mean to say the analytic aperture — the analytic form of being “a world-disclosing openness” (Heidegger) for and with the patient — he seems to be trying to convey is all about dialing into, aiming one’s sight on, taking in and making room for the ‘analytic object’ to “show itself from itself in the very way it shows itself from itself” as Heidegger defines the aim of his hermeneutic phenomenology in his introduction to Being and Time.
When Bion opens the seminar he takes the reader through a productively deconstructive series of thought experiments and reflections on the nature of psychoanalytic ‘facts’ and “how those facts should be observed by us.” What seems to be his answer through the course of the first seminar is this: analytic ‘facts’ are grounded in the immediate experience of an unfolding inter-psychic encounter. We must remain vigilant against internal sources of obscuring our experiential/intuitional registration of that point of emergence of personal being @ this ontic level of lived experience. We must endeavor to dial into the point/place of witnessing and catalyzing that spontaneous grasp at existence ==> the place/point in time of emerging psychic birth (“Tell me when your optic pits… when your auditory pits became functional”). He most poignantly refers to this in a later passage:
What is the object which purports to be the ghost of an inanimate doll [Stravinsky’s Petrouchka, the doll looking for a soul] and which one would think had been dead all the time, having simply made gestures as if animated, pulled by the puppet-master’s strings? Putting it another way: when you see your patient tomorrow, will you be able to detect, in the material which is available to you, signs that there is a ghost of a puppet? If you can, you may still be able to breath some life into that tiny survival.
By contrast Bion seems to go to some length to emphasize that psychoanalytic ‘facts’ are not theories, even psychoanalytical ones. His point seems to be, consistent with his encouragement to “abandon memory and desire”, not to reify or mentally hold onto any kind of theory, concept, construction or formulation, as doing so obscures, blocks, or prevents being present to the live unfolding of here and now experience. It is all too easy to turn to an inner model of what is happening to avoid the emotional turbulence which invariably occurs in a real “I-Thou” encounter (Buber) with an Other who is not oneself. ‘Facts’ must be lived experiences, dialing into the ontological level of “O” as it were. Detecting such “facts” may involve the apperceptive use of what he calls “constant conjunctions” (names, abstractions, models) in Elements, Transformations, etc. And such analytic facts may or may not have an immediate sensuous manifestation, and may or may not presence themselves according to our “natural attitude” (Husserl) expectations of linear time or spatial contiguity. He exemplifies this with a clinical example:
I would certainly from an analytic point of view, from my experience there are certain ideas which have never become conscious and which even seem to betray their existence in adult life. For example, I have a patient who talks very freely, and at the end of the session I know a great deal — if I were to attach much importance to hearsay evidence — about everybody except the patient. That seems to me to become a bit more comprehensible if one supposes that this patient has tried to get rid of every undesirable thought, feeling, even primordial thought, before he ever had them, so that he is surrounded, so to speak, by the thoughts which are voiced by other people — but never his own thoughts or ideas…. Using as much analytic theory as seemed relevant, I made no difference whatsoever to this flow of material in which everything appeared excepting the patient — the one object which was completely unexpressed.
I hope given what I have summarized that the following “bullet points” follow:
1. focus on the point of emergence of a flicker of life, that spontaneous grasping at existence through the weeds of what is false, where is the meaningful opening in the meaningless noise….
2. ala Husserl’s ‘Epoche’, bracket or suspend one’s natural attitude: one’s preferred theories, memories and desires, etc., for yesterday’s patient and be-with tomorrow’s patient. Make room for the faint traces of that subjectivity other than yourself, what Grotstein calls the “ineffable subject of the unconscious” and the traces of it’s emergence in the immediate here and now of the transference-countertransferece matrix.
3. Dial into the patient’s lived experience first and foremost.
4. Be-with/Observe phenomenologically – in a way that allows what shows itself from itself to be seen in the very way it shows itself from itself.
5. Say what you mean and be direct and to the point.
6. Tune into the shapes of non-verbal, pre-verbal, tactile-level communications.
7. Be a midwife to the excluded.