8th International Bion Conference “Psych’O’analysis : exploration in truth”. Thursday, October 23 – Sunday, October 26 2014.
The navel of the truth
In Transformations, Bion introduces the concept of O as the unknowable matter-of-fact of the session. Let me quote Bion’s words: “something happened during the session the facts “in themselves” of the session. What the facts in themselves Are we shall-never-know; thus, I shall indicate them with the mark O” . And I must thank Avner Bergstein for giving me an even more precise description of how O makes its appearance on the analytic scene: “When I’m with a patient, there is sometimes a moment, perhaps a fraction of a second, when I feel something that I will never be able to fully grasp or communicate, even to myself. This happens every time we come out of a session, and can never find the words to describe our emotional experience to an other” . These are the cobblestones paving the clinical situation, where O is the “source of any emotional turbulence” as well as “the authentic object of psychoanalytic listening”. As Sandler specifies, O is “A quasi-mathematical symbol created to denote the numinous realm of the unconscious, where the human and the individual truth resides. Ultimate reality, absolute truth” . Therefore: the matter-of-fact of the session is the place of the truth, and the truth is something that we cannot fully grasp but that produces all turbulence and that we must listen to. The unspeakable – and its turbulence – defines psychoanalytical experience and listening right from its founding myth : Oedipus. The Sphinx’s question in fact does not require an answer, that would be invariably destined to a misinterpretation of the enigma, rather, it requires an exercise that is inevitably going to bring about turbulence. The Sphinx’s question is not something we respond to but that we correspond to. This should suggest that psychoanalysis, far from being a scientific discipline, has more to do with ethics than it does with neuroscience. It is a practice of truth that is revealed through the practice itself. So let us dwell upon the way we experience truth in O and the nature of O itself in psychoanalysis, from the Freudian navel of the dream to Bion’s alpha function. […]
IPSO MEETING, 24 – 26 OTTOBRE 2014, ISTANBUL “First Encounters”.
The Long and Winding Road to Analysis: The Traumatic Experience of Meeting in and out of the Transference
(Sonia de Cristofaro and Andrea Bocchiola)
If we take a closer look at the meaning of the word encounter we immediately realize that it is much more than a simple moment of meeting: 1. A meeting, especially one that is unplanned or unexpected; 2. a. A hostile or adversarial confrontation: to confront in battle or contention; 2. b. A meeting that is often violent; a clash ; 3. To come up against: to encounter numerous obstacles. For those who speak a latin language, the association between the word encounter (in-contro/scontro/con-fronto) and the motion of coming up “against”, comes easily. But we can also consider that in English, “bumping -into- each other” presents a similar contradiction in terms. What this tells us, is that an encounter is always a two-fold moment of meeting. There is a meeting that has to do with a situation that we cannot fully represent and that is both surprising and traumatic and the consequent second movement of being sent back to ourselves. As an example of this effect let us think of the experience of meeting another person: the closer we get the more what we see is our own reflection. And what we see never fully coincides with what we expect to see. It is a “familiar -stranger, Unheimlich in Freudian terms that presents us with a riddle regarding ourselves and the strange effect of meeting ourselves through the eyes of another. And naturally all this can already be found in the founding myth of psychoanalysis. When Oedipus meets the oracle in Delphi he is first of all sent back to himself “know thyself”. However it is only after he encounters the horrifying Sphinx (and this is still not enough) and ultimately only after the plague invests Thebes and he becomes, when he is exiled to Colon that he is forced to “look” beyond what he can see and take his own questions upon himself. Similarly we believe this is what happens on the road to analysis, a long and winding road in which there is an encounter, sometimes a crash, with what can no longer be avoided, with what we cannot be blind to anymore as it returns from inside. This is how Marie approached an analyst, hoping to encounter the truth as a solution to the riddle, only to discover that the answer implied the acceptance of meeting the difficulty of having to get there through one’s own terrifying trials. In and out of the transference. […]
NEQUE DETESTARE, SED INTELLIGERE
Primo paragrafo del lavoro predisposto, per il volume collettaneo a cura di C. Peregrini, sul problema mente corpo. Pubblicazione prevista per la primavera 2015 Nessun problema, dopo quelli dell’esistenza di Dio, del mondo e dell’anima è più discusso del mind-body problem. Quali siano e come vadano pensate le relazioni tra corpo e mente è un dilemma che da lungo tempo affligge la riflessione filosofica e quella scientifica e che con urgenza crescente sollecita la nostra vita quotidiana e l’azione del legislatore. Lo ritroviamo ogni volta che frequentiamo, per una ragione o per l’altra le soglie della vita o gli spazi di confine e di frattura della nostra esistenza. Dal semplice ammalarsi alla fecondazione assistita al cambiamento di sesso, dalla decisione sulla morte cerebrale alla comprensione della nascita del pensiero. Ognuno di questi problemi richiede una scelta soggettiva e ingiunge al legislatore una sempre più problematica decisione. Il problema trabocca dal ristretto ambito della discussione accademica per investire la politica stessa dell’amministrazione della vita. Ma come emergano al pensiero oggetti come il corpo e la mente e come si sia giunti alla formulazione stessa del mind-body problem sono questioni neglette e trascurate dalla ricerca e dallo stesso legislatore. Che vi siano nel mondo dei corpi e delle menti, che essi siano fatti in un certo modo e non in un altro, è qualcosa che viene presupposto ma raramente indagato nella sua genesi. Che dietro le parole «corpo» e «mente» vi siano delle «cose» dotate di una loro esistenza indipendente dall’orizzonte di senso che le designa è ciò che viene dato per scontato ma mai sottoposto ad interrogazione critica. Che ciascuna di queste parole sia gravida di teoria e che si trovi come all’apice di una lunga catena di decisioni concettuali e teoretiche raramente viene ricordato ed ancor meno ci si sovviene che ciascuna di queste decisioni ha sempre un lato politico. Esso riguarda nientemeno cosa siamo disposti a fare ed a vedere, quando si tratta del corpo e della mente. E concerne cosa siamo disposti ad accettare e cosa il nostro pensiero tratta come un assioma alle nostre spalle che non può più essere sottoposto a dubbio o a decostruzione. Così, come analisti, non possiamo non sperimentarne il peso stesso di questi concetti e della loro aura semantica, tanto quando ci dedichiamo alla teoria e riflettiamo sulla natura e sulla genesi del pensiero, che quando, nella clinica, ascoltiamo il dire di un paziente o il campo che tra noi e lui si apre. E non si tratta solamente del peso storico e concettuale che essi hanno per noi. Si tratta del modo stesso in cui possiamo ascoltare le falde più arcaiche dell’esperienza soggettiva e del modo in cui possiamo pensare la nostra professione. Non è, forse, il problema della psicoanalisi laica una versione contemporanea del mind-body problem? Che la si possa praticare solo attraverso una preliminare appartenenza agli ordini dei medici e degli psicologi, non ci assegna alle spire di un’aporia che decide per noi molto più di quanto possiamo anche solo concepire? Ed analogamente, non è forse il problema della scientificità della psicoanalisi una versione dogmatica della stessa faccenda? Nella silenziosa accettazione che le neuroscienze stiano diventando un interlocutore assoluto per la psicoanalisi non stiamo forse sdoganando una divisione di campi – a noi la mente, a voi il corpo – che la pratica stessa del nostro lavoro mette vieppiù in discussione a partire dal vetusto concetto di conversione isterica? Perciò, se desideriamo avventurarci nel problema mente-corpo non sarà sufficiente prendere consapevolezza della storia del problema, della sua relatività “culturale” , delle sue impasse e dei suoi punti di snodo. E nemmeno potrà bastare indagare i dispositivi normativi e biopolitici, che da esso discendono e sui quali dovremmo comunque soffermarci. Occorrerà piuttosto chiedersi come si siano prodotti questi oggetti, il corpo e la mente e quale sia la natura di quel gesto che ha istituito il problema del loro rapporto. Il nome di questo sforzo è genealogia . Con esso si tratta di abbandonare il campo di gioco del mind-body problem per cominciare a discutere ne regole. La domanda non sarà dunque come si colleghino tra loro le menti ed i corpi ma come è accaduto che ad un certo punto si sia posto il problema stesso. E tutto questo non è senza consonanza con ciò che Heidegger rammentò a chi gli chiese se saremmo mai riusciti a comprendere la cultura orientale. Certamente rispose, ma a patto di comprendere a fondo la natura del nostro stesso linguaggio, ovvero di quella scrittura alfabetica che per sua natura produce il problema che stiamo o dovremmo qui considerare: quello del rapporto tra la mente ed il corpo. Ossia tra il senso ed il significato.
ALCUNE RIFLESSIONI SUL FEMMINICIDIO E LA VIOLENZA
(Andrea Bocchiola e Sonia de Cristofaro)
IPSO Meeting, Warsaw, 20 – 22 settembre 2013
TIMING, TEMPO AND TEMPORALITY IN PSYCHOANALYSIS THE MATTER OF WHEN AN ANALYSIS BEGINS.
(Sonia de Cristofaro and Andrea Bocchiola)
(Excerpt) When do analyses begin? Freud wrote, when “the illness itself ceases to be something execrable and rather becomes a worthy adversary”. But how does this happen? We believe they begin with the restricted time and urgency of the symptom. They begin with a precipitating request which asks to restore a time of life which has supposedly been interrupted. […] The urge of the symptom precedes the time of recollection and memories that emerge in the first instances of analysis. The logic is that of archiving and evacuation as the symptom is subjected to the imperative of treatment and well-being. The dominant idea is to get rid of all distress, because time is running short and the train of life is moving fast. Furthermore, there is no time, not even for the analyst, to which our patient presents himself frustrated and disarmed by the lack of meaning and answers. The symptom appears to be enjoying a logic of its own, leaving him bitter and afraid. Analysis too often begins with a super-egoic injunction to be cured without a sustaining thought as to what the cure actually entails – means. Expressed in musical terms, it is also the score of modern life: presto, prestissimo! It serves an impossible injunction in relation to which one is inevitably at fault. This injunction has three aspects: along with the implacable “you must perform”, we note an imperative “enjoy!”. The outcome is the inhibition of pleasure which has such an important role in contemporary clinical practice . Along with this, an even more savage injunction is “treat yourself!”, “fix yourself”. The outcome is too often the feeling of being even more ill and in danger than one already fears to be. This too bears its weight in the difficulty in starting analytical work with our patients. This “presto, prestissimo”, which defines modernity’s temporal horizon, is accompanied by three figures of temporality, which are memory, acceleration and reflexivity. Give me a moment to explain this: It is before everyone’s eyes that there is a excess and hypertrophy of memory. From photos to videos, from facebook to twitter, the forms and aids to the archiving and publication of our lives are countless. Nothing must or can be lost, private space continuously precipitates into public life. The acceleration of lifestyles produces a passion for the conservation of one’s memory and the publicising of banality. Sedi- mentation of experience and the construction of a subjective meaning is replaced by the accumulation of equivalent materials belonging to everyone and to no one. As if the hypertrophy of the archive were directly proportional to the desertification of psychic life. The second figure is the acceleration of modern times. Its name is often fashion and goes hand in hand with the impermanence of the present. The Freudian name of this acceleration and of this impermanence is the end of the Oedipal conflict. The third figure is reflexivity. By reflexivity we do not mean the ability to reflect upon oneself but the impossibility of doing so without passing through the feed back of “someone who presumably knows better- the expert”. There appears to be an ideology of expertise by which for every sensitive gateway of life (birth, death, ill- ness, transformation) let there be someone who will take care of us – taking away the ability to think by ourselves. De-subjectivization, infantilisation and the tendency to interpret everything is therefore daily business. And, as analysts, we must keep this in mind: if someone is there to tell us “what to feel”, then at some level that means that what we feel must be extensively traumatic. The outcome of all this is complex in terms of subjectivity. There is a shift from the oedipal dynamic that aims for subjectivity, to a narcissistic and dependent position. Two questions arise from what we have said. The first concerns the psychopathological profiles arriving in our clinical practice. How much of what we tend to ascribe to early trauma or to the individual’s constitutional structure actually have to do with the way our symbolic horizon acts upon us. (Symbolic horizon being hypertrophy of memory – acceleration of experience and reflexivity as explained above). The second question concerns the mantra regarding the difficulty of matching contemporary lifestyles and the long and laborious aspects of analytical work. We feel that the length and intensity of analyses is not in contradiction with modern temporality, rather it is its other face. (It would however be to lengthy to discuss at this point in our presentation). Now, let us take one step back and ask ourselves again what makes the start of an analysis possible? Something must have disturbed the untemporal fixity of the phantasy thereby producing a symptom or impasse. The condition of analysis is a split between time in the unconscious and time intended as historical time of life and things to do. In this frame the symptom reveals itself to be the first ally of the unconscious phantasy. Its presto, prestissimo is at the service of the untemporal fixity of the phantasy. Thus, we might say analysis begin only when we discharge the logic of cur- ing the symptom to interrogate the patient’s desire. They begin only if we have a problem with the truth regarding ourselves in so far as it responds to the founding question of subjectivity: “what do you want?”, “what do you want to obtain”, “what are you in the eyes of the other”? Yet this operation entails a transformation of the patient’s story, not only in terms of one’s family story, but more deeply in the redefinition of one’s experience. Analyses begin on the spur of the mystery of our own unique story. Untemporality, après-coup, cover-up memories are its trademarks and the perturbing is typical in each of them. […] One of the most important findings of psychoanalysis in our view, consists in the discovery of a temporality that is independent from the biographical and symbolic order of things. In one word, independent from the time of linear narration. This the case of après coup and the mystery of cover-up memories. If the first refers to the fact that we can only know the truth of the patient’s desire starting from the outcome of his actions, the second refers to the fact that, in the field of the psyche, what takes shape is always a cover up. The past is never given, events always occur in so far as they are interpreted or because a thought corresponds to them. This takes us back to the après-coup, distancing us from the order of the objective story, which, as we know, is uninhabited. It is not simply that what happens now actualizes what took shape in the past. It is also that what happens is always the cover -up of an event which escapes us. Again, let us return to our question and let us ask ourselves once again: when do analyses begin? Freud wrote, when “the illness itself ceases to be something execrable and rather becomes a worthy adversary”. Through a process by which the symptom, ceasing to be something foreign, becomes something that interrogates us, that belongs to us and concerns us deeply. Analyses begin by moving from time to space. The concept of analysis as an opening and construction of a space in which the subject’s psychic reality can occur, should be opposed to the idea that considers it as the story of our life in a timeline. The setting of the analysis in this sense acts as a first containing space for a psychic theatrical play that is about to be performed. […] If we look closely, psychoanalysis proposes not just the discovery of child sexuality, but the discovery of a dimension in which the subject is subjected, that is a dimension that reveals a truth concerning him so intimately that it is foreign to him. It is foremost a space in which existence remains fundamentally traumatic and therefore a space and time that constitutes one of the most delicate clinical challenges. All the technical attire of psychoanalysis, from free associations to free and fluctuating listen- ing, from negative ability to reverie, from transformations in dreams to dreaming together, up to talking as a dreaming, move precisely in this direction. These dimensions are what Freud encounters at the heart of the Traumdeutung and that carry the name of unconscious desire, heart of the dream, fundamental phantasy, or in Bion’s words, of the un-thought thought . What we find at the heart of our intimacy is an opening which drags us outside ourselves, on the threshold of events which constituted us but which we cannot saturate. To which we must correspond without being able to respond.
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