No-Baby: Negation, Transience and Mourning

Stefanie Teitelbaum, LCSW, NCPsyA

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”No! It is impossible that all this loveliness of Nature and Art, of the world of our sensations and of the world outside, will really fade away into nothing”, (1916)

cried Freud’s poet companion in “On Transience”.

The Lie

Thirty years ago, my doctor said, ‘yes you are pregnant, no there is no fetus’, but there was a vibrant living fetus in my state of mind.

“An analytic parallel is the psycho-analytic interpretation which is death to the existing state of mind, the state of mind that is being interpreted. Worse than being right or wrong is the failure of an interpretation to be significant, though to be significant is not enough; it merely ensures that it exists. It must also be true.” (Bion, 1970)

A representation of potential loveliness, the baby whose birth I was anticipating, whose form could cast a shadow upon my ego, and the temporality which would have permitted her to fade away into nothing were gone in an instant.  The poet’s “NO!” affirms its antithesis; the “YES!” of existence whose loss would be realistically painful (Freud 1910, 1911, 1925).    My story of memory transformed to reverie transformed to dreams is a prehistory of “NO!”; the work of the negative.

I neither heard the affirmation hidden in double negative of no, no-fetus, nor the hyphen of no-fetus, clearly absent in my doctor’s psycho-grammar.  The hyphen of the no-thing, creates a potential womb space for a gestating thing. My inner ear was not attuned to such concepts which have helped me stay present in the ghastly experience.  Transience reversed to stasis in a reversible perspective (Bion, 1963), and I was protected from unthinkable pain.

“You can tell me I am pregnant and the fetus is deformed, or you can tell me I am not pregnant and I have a growth.  You cannot tell me I’m pregnant and there is no fetus”.  I heard my no-thinking self speak in soft, modulated, reasonable tones.  I was shrieking.  Bion, (1959, 1992) compared psychic shock to surgical shock, quoting a psychotic patient’s experience expressed in “there is blood everywhere”.  The linking of shocked common senses are attacked, the world of sensations the poet would lose through body death is instantly killed in psychic death.  My ear, my most sensitive organ of attention and perception failed; it didn’t hear the scream-tone S.O.S., “NO!”.  Sound sense was caught in the crossfire of psychic and somatic realities, each trying destroy the other and claim boundless attention (Eigen,1986) of my perceptual, conscious system, , leaving the sound object in the auditory pits of my embryonic sound container (Bion, 1977).  Attention, self and objects all split (Meltzer, 1981).

The Breakdown

Winnicott’s hypen in psycho-somatic suggest thought and emotional economic capacity to house a linked psyche-soma, neither fused nor disocciated.  In a split second the dash of no-baby moved to the front of the word to become a minus baby, a catastrophic lie.  The somatic remains of nameless dread was named hydatifdiorm mole.  The prefix, hydatid, means parasite.  It would have killed me if each cell was not removed.   Its form is described as grape-like clusters of congealed blood in clear, chambered casing; a transparent no-skin.  Winnicott (1969) likened psycho-somatic illness to a picture without a frame.  My imagination’s picture of ‘blood everywhere’ is of fluid, spurting blood.  The ‘mole’, was clotted blood, endlessly splitting and creating more of itself.  This blood was static and transient at the same time, similar to Eigen’s, (2001) description of a dream within a dream as fossilized trauma.  I see my molar fossil as neither beta (psychotic), nor alpha (not psychotic), yet alpha and beta at the same time.  Parasitic placenta mass eats up the maternal body that created it and the fetus it contains.  A frame without a picture.

”Where does an evacuated part of self go when it goes nowhere?”,  Meltzer (1992) asked.   I had a dream after the D&C.  A tiny Asian doll, pink silk kimono, creepy pretty baby doll face, dead plastic with live eyes in a white porcelain sink.  She spun round and round and disappeared down the drain.  In Meltzer’s body geography, the rectum of the maternal containing object is the last refuge before the realm of nowhere, schizophrenia.   My last stop sanity orifice was my ear.

“The underlying agony is unthinkable.  It is wrong to think of psychotic illness as a breakdown, it is a defence organization relative to a primitive agony, and it is usually successful ..”, Winnicott, 1974

I didn’t go crazy, I broke down for a while.

The mole, soma-psychosis (Bion, AMF, Meltzer, 1986) speaks science fiction to Psyche and Soma

“Is it possible to talk to the soma in such a way that the psychosis is able to understand, or vice versa?, (Bion, Evidence 1976)”

In the practice of psycho-somatics what the psychotherapist needs is the co-operation of a not too scientific physical doctor. … What is needed is science-fiction ….Winnicott,, 1966

“A mother dreams the baby in her containing form.  I am the stuff that nightmares are made of.  Your mother was nursed by a pregnant mother, she drank the same toxic hormone drink that I poured into your soma.  Remember how sick you felt?  Imagine what your baby mother felt.  No wonder she ate dirt.  Your grandmother tried to induce a miscarriage, to kill the fetus whose presence was poisoning your mother.  You are named for that fetal poisoner, Selma, for soul.   You have the transmigrated soul of an innocent poisoner who survived attempted womb murder, but died in early adult.  You are here because your mother poisoned you with DES (Diethylstilbestrol), to prevent your miscarriage in an act of creative destruction.  Her body killed her babies in the womb, like her mother tried to kill her soul sister.   I carry the death rattle of all the dead babies.  Can’t you hear it in your asthma wheeze?  I am body psychosis, a literal poisoner.  I don’t do metaphor.   When Alice fell down the rabbit hole, she hit bottom in a world of bizarre objects.  When I fall down the black hole, and take you with me, I break through trans-generational bottoms, asshole caesura after caesura after caesura; maybe as far back as the Shekinah’s death-womb in a negative, upside down, back-sided sephirot.  I am the product of your collision, psyche and soma.  You split and tried to wipe each other out, but you fused, creating me.  Lucky for you, the hysteric whose personality contains you can put the brakes on the endless fall with binding sexuality.  You get soma-psychosis instead of schizophrenia.  Count your blessings.”

Soma said, “Did you hear that?”

Psyche said, “Yes”

They mated and gave birth to three dreams.

1)    “A baby giraffe, big as the empire state building, prances around the city, destroying tall buildings she knocked into.  Her genital slit extended till her breast bone.  I hugged her, and the vaginal opening was a small triangle covered in black mesh.  I could feel her warmth next to my chest, in my arms.”

2)    “Looking down on a scene of shades of grey.  A desolate landscape with a pond.  Abraham Lincoln bends over and pulls a dead baby from the water.  His top hat casts a shadow over the baby.  He rocks the baby in his arms.  I, the dreamer who dreams the dream feel nothing.”

3)    “I need a form to stop automatic withdrawal from my savings account into a retirement fund.  People I don’t recognize yell “you can’t give them access to your funds.”  I had the right form, but lost it.  I cry, “I need a new C2 form”.  They give me a new one, with 3 holes punched, so I can put it in a binder.”

Interpretation from as well-balanced a thinker as I can be, trying to transform the continued onslaught of projective identification, (Bion, 1970) from the no-baby trapped in my psyche to mournable, affect-laden thought.

The baby giraffe is fully alive and I felt her furry warmth.  That extended genital slit; no question, it’s a girl!  The dead boy held in Lincoln’s melancholy affect form had no me feeling in the dream.  His top hat, a beaver hat, is female, me in disguise. The shadow of my me/not-me ego fell upon the no-object.  Reversal is expected down the rabbit hole.  Two of Lincoln’s four boys born of a mad mother died in childhood.  The baby barely survived him.  He feels what I can’t.  The mole’s parthenogenic science fiction is hysterical; it denies the law of male/female sexual intercourse. The enormous slit below the phallic neck meet in a bizarre primal scene, a potential space for a preconcept of conception.    The slit to the breast place, the genital-heart, genital mind connection,(Eigen, 2005),  a conduit joining the lower and upper containing dream-spaces (Eigen,1986,  Meltzer, 1992), and the opening of a c-section; joining and separating at the same time (Bion,1977).   The transformation of the giant slit to a mesh covered triangle, a sink trap to stop my beautiful giraffe with the muck inside her from also disappearing down the drain.  She is a proto-mental representation of the ghastly affect when I saw pieces of the bloody mole fall out of my body.  The mesh, the black triangle of pubic hair, may have transitional potential if transformed to string needed to play fort da and survive the loss. “Architecture is a solid dream”, and ““Artistic form holds the feeling of the dream”, (Harris, Meltzer, Stokes, 1988).  The baby giraffe destroys the building blocks of instinctual intuition which could have built a form to house a baby.  The wrecked architecture left malignant building blobs.    Thought and emotional economy has been automatically withdrawn from the disavowed no-baby account for thirty years.  If the funds stop being drained, I can pay the mortgage and renovate my symbol house.  C2, on Bion’s (1977) Grid is the meeting point of dreams and lies, an entry portal to the Grid’s backside world of lies and death. Row G, scientific deductive systems, has only possible meeting point; a lie.  Scientific deductive systems have nothing to do with the processing of raw sense impressions to symbolic thought.  I’ll go back to the science fiction row C and try again to symbolize the loss in a reality binder. 

BION 

THE GRID

1977

Definitory Hypotheses Ψ Notation Attention Inquiry Action
1 2 3 4 5 6 … n.
A β-elements A1 A2 A6
B α-elements B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 … Bn
C Dream Thoughts Dreams, Myths C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6 … Cn
D Pre-conception D1 D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 … Dn
E Conception E1 E2 E3 E4 E5 E6 … En
F Concept F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 F6 … Fn
G Scientific Deductive System G2
H Algebraic Calculus

 Double Reversal of Reversible Perspective Recovering the Aesthetic Object

“Reversible perspective is evidence of pain; the patient reverses perspective . . . to preserve a static hallucination.”, Bion, 1963

“The mechanisms of disguise that are more particularly suggestive of affect are centred around a double return (reversal into its opposite and turning upon the subject’s own self), which, according to Freud, are supposed to act before the intervention of repression. (Green, 1999”). 

Giraffe and dead baby are affective disguises each held in separate containing compartments, female and male, unaware of each other.  The giddy with love giraffe feeling, a reversal of primitive agony never felt, returned to my own self.   One reversal. The dead baby is still depersonalized, without the strength to reverse with its opposite,.  The second part of the double reversal is a transformation in process. The no-feeling in the dream is a “No!”, not yet the ineffable truth of O.    It is impossible that my lovely baby giraffe affect could fade away to grey nothing.   I love her.  Dream fragment; in a taxi; a Carribean woman driving; radio playing Harry Belafonte singing “Mary’s (Lincoln?) boy child born on Christmas Day”, (a favorite from early childhood).  We cry together. I see a tiny plastic giraffe. She’s still there,” Nothing dies in the unconscious, thank God, (Freud, 1900).

I am ready to join Freud, the poet and the silent third woman on their walk.

 

REFERENCES

Bion, W.R. (1959) “Common Sense” in, COGITATIONS, Karnac, London, 1992, pp23-33

(1963). Elements of Psycho-Analysis. London

(1965). Transformations: Change from Learning to Growth. London: Tavistock.

(1970). Attention and Interpretation.  London: Tavistock

(1976c) “Evidence”, Bulletin 8, British Psychoanalitical Society. Also in Clinical Seminars and Four Papers, Fleetwood Press, Oxford (1987)

(1977) THE ITALIAN SEMINARS.  Karnac, London, 2005, p45

Eigen, M. (1986) THE PSYCHOTIC CORE; Jason, Aronson, NJ, 1993

(2001) Damaged Dreamwork, in DAMAGED BONDS, Karnac, London, NY, pp43-61

(2005)Training Wheels, in EMOTIONAL STORMS, Weslyan U. Press, CT.,154-167

Freud, S. (1900)  The Interpretation of Dreams, .The Standared Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume V

(1910). The Antithetical Meaning of Primal Words. SE XI 153-162

(1911). Formulations on the Two Principles of Mental Functioning. SE  XII, 213-226

(1916). On Transience. SE XIV, 303-307

(1925). Negation. SE XIX (1923-1925), 233-240

Green, A.   (1999). On Discriminating and not Discriminating Between Affect and

Meltzer, D.    (1981). The Relation of Splitting of Attention to Splitting of Self and Objects. Contemp. Psychoanal., 17:232-238

(1986)”Proto-mental apparatus and soma-psychotic phenomena”. CH IV in STUDIES IN EXTENDED METAPSYCHOLOGY; CLINICAL APPLICATIONS OF BION’S IDEAS,Clunie Press, Perthshire, pp38-49

(1992)“The Geographic Dimensions of the Mental Apparatus” in, THE CLAUSTRUM, Karnac, London, 2008, 57-60

(1992)”The Compartments of the Internal Mother”, THE CLAUSTRUM, ibid, 61-68

(1992), “The Role of the Claustrum in the Onset of Schizophrenia”, THE CLAUSTRUM, ibid, 117-126

Meltzer, D. &

Harris Williams, M.(1988) THE APPREHENSION OF BEAUTY, THE ROLE OF 

AESTHETIC CONFLICT IN DEVELOPMENT, ART AND VIOLENCE, Karnac, London, 2008

Winnicott, DW (1966). Psycho-Somatic Illness in its Positive and Negative Aspects.

International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:510

(1969)  Additional Notes on Psycho-Somatic Disorder. EXPLORATIONS IN PSYCHO-ANALYSIS, Yale Press, CT, (1989) 115-118

(1974) Fear of Breakdown.  Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 1:103-107

If you would like to contact Stefanie Teitelbaum, her email is stef.teitelbaum@gmail.com

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