The Online Journal of the International Forum for Psychoanalytic Education (IFPE)
2015 Editorial Staff
Executive Editor – Farrell Silverberg
Managing Editor – Merle Molofsky
Triage/Reviewing/Editing Team –
Other/Wise 2015 will appear in three issues, containing a selected sampling of papers connected to presentations from IFPE’s 2014 conference on the theme of necessary fictions. The theme invited presenters to explore the interplay between psychoanalysis, truth, creativity, self-definition, writing and literature. Papers from this conference spotlighted the fabrications of the mind in the service of survival, reflected upon our narratives of self and other, and sought to explore the relationship between reading, writing and healing. Papers from 18 of these appear in our e-journal, and will be divided among this year’s three issues.
Introduction to Issue 1 of Other/Wise 2015:
As Thomas Ogden, IFPE’s 2014 Hans W. Loewald Memorial Award winner stated in regard to analytic writing,
“What makes this literary genre so demanding is that experience–including analytic experience–does not come to us in words. This fact generates a paradox that lies at the core of analytic writing: analytic experience (which cannot be said or written) must be transformed into ‘fiction’ (an imaginative rendering of experience in words) in order to convey to the reader something of what is true to the emotional experience that the analyst had with the patient” (2005, p. 15).
This issue, No. 1 of Other/Wise 2015, presents six papers in the genre of analytic writing of which Ogden speaks that reflect upon the interplay of literature, psychoanalysis and trauma. This issue includes contributions by Jeffrey Trop, Sara Weber, Cheryl Goldstein, Isolde Keilhofer, Samoan Barish, and Roman Crudele.
The first three papers, by Jeffrey Trop, Sara Weber and Cheryl Goldstein, were all part of a panel entitled “Literature and Psychoanalysis,” that was moderated by Elaine Bridge whose abridged remarks on those three papers begin this issue’s brief introduction:
All three of these papers take up the manifestations of trauma and its relationship to literature. Trop sees the analyst’s experience and associations to literature as a resonant and complete way of listening in order to conceptualize experience in combination with theory. In his paper, “Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice: The Unique Contributions of Literature to the Clinical Situation,” Trop states that the words of the narrative in literature compel him to draw himself deep into his being where he can feel them at a visceral level. They have a charge and become a clinical tool that directs his attention to clinical concepts and helps him play with those concepts instead of limiting his reality. He offers three writings to illustrate how literature completes theory–by Heinz Kohut, Gregory David Roberts, and J. K. Rowling. These passages then bring us back to the author listening to the patient’s material.
Weber presents us with a very creative paper that shows us how literature expands our understanding of trauma and loss as seen through her knowledge of Philip Bromberg’s work. Both Weber and Bromberg have referenced Gustaf Sobin’s novel The Fly-Truffler that follows its protagonist’s descent into madness—a madness that results from not having another person with whom to share his grief and complete isolation at the time of a death. Weber’s paper, “One Buried Thing for Another:
One Buried Thing for Another: Transcendence and Madness In The Fly Truffler,” draws us to a powerful contribution from literature that, in line with Trop’s, reframes clinical theory in a powerful and resonant manner. Weber has us reflect upon the notion of not choosing between the real and unreal world as a way of attempting to resolve grief.
Goldstein’s illuminating paper, “The Sounds of Silence,” has us reconsider analytic historical attitudes toward silence. She discusses two novels that present trauma as a one-sided dialogue, Yeshoshua’s “Mr. Mani” and Khoury’s “Gates of the Sun,” including that of a caretaker and a comatose patient, that have bearing on the analytic conversation. In these instances, the reader can hear silence-of-the-other as engagement rather than as absence. Goldstein explains that this literary device brings to life Freud’s concept of displacement as a primary process, with the silence speaking to both parties in the analytic dyad. Here exile and displacement can be recast as a sense of absence, a gap that finds expression through silence. Goldstein states, “Trauma derails us and can leave us (patient/analyst) without words.”
Each of the previously mentioned three papers individually took up the manifestations of trauma within literature and simultaneously evoked thoughts about how literature can be utilized within the analyst’s experience to more freely understand the patient. The last three papers of this issue continue to elaborate on these themes, further incorporating the interplay of literature and trauma into aspects of theory, “biblio-memoir,” and a clinical look at romantic obsession.
Isolde Keilhofer’s opening paragraph, warns us that “Making contact with the unwanted can be a paralyzing task… perhaps akin to approaching Medusa, victim turned monster, whose deadly gaze turns onlookers to stone…” Her paper, “Unwanted: Deadened Aliveness,” impresses us with a significant contribution toward psychoanalytic theory with her contemporary approach to the concept of the unwanted and the disavowed in the literary works of George Eliot and Charlotte Brontë. Beginning with focusing on the fact that the namesake of one cornerstone of Freudian theory, Oedipus himself, was an unwanted child. Using as lenses the works of Ferenczi, who did not shy away from the concept of the unwanted, Bion, to whom Keilhofer refers as “a go to guy” of deadened states, as well as Eigen who encourages the capacity and compassion to work with deadened states, this paper illuminates its meaningful and startling concept.
In the next paper, “And so on into the Flare and Glare”, Samoan Barish discusses Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf in a truly personal and evocative way. She equates her paper’s title phrase, uttered by a character in the book, to D.W. Winnicott’s well-known concept of “going on being” (1956, p. 303). Barish shares that she reread the novel at different points in her own life. Processing the novel’s array of characters, from party-goers to traumatized war veterans, through the changing lens of her concomitant stage of life at the time of each rereading, Barish shows us that our self-images as revealed through our identifications, are more malleable than expected. She shows us that Woolf’s allusion to “into the flare and glare” can be, as revealed in our responses to literature, seen as synonymous with lifelong maturational unfolding.
–– Farrell Silverberg
Ogden, T. H. (2005), On psychoanalytic writing. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 86: 15–29.
Winnicott D. W. (1956). Primary maternal preoccupation. In: The maturational processes and the facilitating environment, p. 300-5. New York: lnternational University Press, 1965.
Image: Jody Zellen, www.jodyzellen.com
Individual articles in this issue:
- The Sounds of Silence
- By Cheryl Goldstein
- Unwanted: Deadened Aliveness
- By Isolde Keilhofer, LP
- Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice: The Unique Contributions of Literature to the Clinical Situation
- By Jeffrey L. Trop, M.D.
- And so on into the Flare and Glare
- By Samoan Barish, Ph.D.
- One Buried Thing for Another: Transcendence and Madness In The Fly Truffler
- By Sara L. Weber, Ph.D.