Volume 2: Fall 2015

Other/Wise

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 –

Merle Molofsky

Richard Raubolt

Oren Gozlan

Ginny Rachmani

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.

General Introduction to the 3 issues of Other/Wise 2015:

Other/Wise 2015 appears 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 are divided among this year’s three issues.

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).

Introduction to Issue 2 of Other/Wise 2015:

“Trustworthy, Reliable Care while being Mortal”

In Issue No. 2 of Other/Wise 2015, entitled with a profound phrase borrowed from Karol Marshall that seems to encompass the theme seen throughout this issue, we present six more papers from IFPE’s 2014 conference. Without a doubt, the papers in this issue fall squarely within the genre of analytic writing described above by Ogden. Reflecting upon the interplay of trauma, loss, and the human condition with literature and psychoanalysis, these papers offer contributions from Karol Marshall, Joe Hovey, Rachel Newcomb, Linda Sherby, Elizabeth Wolfson, Irit Paz, Lynn Tenbusch, João Pedro Dias and Richard Raubolt.

In the opening paper, The Myth of Expected Loss: How clinicians interact with their mortality in clinical and professional practice by Marshall, Newcomb and Hovey, each author wrote a deeply reflective section and each one offered stories from different stages of personal and professional life.

In the introductory section of The Myth of Expected Loss, Marshall captures every therapist’s dilemma by stating, very succinctly but nevertheless profoundly, that we “have to deal with the complexities of being people who offer trustworthy, reliable care to others while, at the same time, being mortal.” To exemplify the deep attachments and losses that are unique to being a psychotherapist, Marshall shares two very personal reactions: the first in regard to learning that a colleague has premature dementia, and the second, in regard to her own experience as the wife of a dying analyst.

In Hovey’s section of this paper, “Science out of Pain,” and spurred by the death of his first therapist, he describes his research into the question of how therapists could prepare themselves and their patients for the “ubiquitous threat–and eventual promise–of their demise.” Hovey shares with us his reactions, his uneasiness and his conviction that a “well-held mortality” can have healing powers.

In her “How to Live” section of the Myth of Expected Loss, Newcomb reminds us that we can’t really discuss living without also discussing dying. Continuing Hovey’s theme she begins to confront our resistances to preparing a professional will and to appointing a colleague as executor. But then, in describing the experience of conversations with the attendees regarding this topic during this panel presentation, and in following the thread of the dialogue in the room instead of her prepared material, she concludes this paper by providing us with an affirmation of life.

In Truth and Fiction: When a patient and therapist are revealed, Linda Sherby addresses and exemplifies the inevitability of self-disclosure that goes beyond what is customary for a psychoanalyst. Her paper adeptly intertwines personal memoir about the illness and death of her husband George, with clinical vignettes based on interactions with patients during that time period. In sharing this time with us, Sherby reveals the illusory nature of the fragile dividing membrane that we try to uphold between personal circumstances and treatment relationships, and the complex inner dialogue that occurs when around selective disclosure. Reading In Truth and Fiction further illuminates the spirit of Marshall’s words in the previous paper, that it is no ordinary task to offer “trustworthy, reliable care” while at the same time “being mortal.”

At the beginning of the next paper, Reading, Writing and Winnicott: Reconstructing the Story of ‘I’ in the ‘Good-Enough’ Space, Wolfson quickly identifies her theme by quoting Susan Sontag, who stated that the “only function of literature lies in the uncovering of the self in history” (1980, p. 501). Using this as the jumping off point for a thought-provoking reframing of treatment as the patient’s story being enunciated, seeing the “patient as writer,” and positing that it is by “reading himself,” (in the context of an empathetic and sensitive listener in the analyst), that the patient is able to connect with an authentic self and then write the next chapters into the future. Wolfson examines the importance of a safe “play space” within the treatment wherein such growth can take place and sees this as consistent with Donald Winnicott’s “holding environment” (1965, p. 228). In framing the therapeutic process as a work of art or literature, she shows us that,

“Patient and therapist unfold the patient’s text together for purposes of revision into something from which meaning can be derived.  Just as true art, while infinitely expansive, must resonate for the listener…”

In the next paper, Playing Language Games with the Bovarys: The shift from monologue to dialogue in couples therapy through the lens of literary lovers, Paz uses classic literature to invite us to examine the relation of language to relational “reality.” Starting with the philosophical perspective of Wittgenstein (1972) in combination with her clinical observations, her paper deconstructs the dialogue in couples therapy, and demonstrates how the unconscious attempts to author the relationship through the grammar of monologue. In quoting John Langshaw Austin (1978), Paz notes that people “do things with words” that “bewitch,” obfuscate and push away as much as they reveal about one’s relational position. According to Paz, the very use of language and grammar, can serve to fictionalize each individual reality in the direction of an ever-widening abyss between members of a couple. Invoking Russian philosopher Bakhtin’s (1984, p. 252) idea that “when dialogue ends, everything ends,” Paz uses this paper to make a plea for dialogue and empathy.

Delving further into the philosophical vein, Tenbusch, in her paper Nietzsche’s Necessary Fictions become Psychoanalytic Narratives, draws parallels between philosophy and relational analysis. She focuses on Nietzsche’s concept of “necessary illusions,” and struggles with the question of how to embrace life to the fullest “without denying the pain and uncertainty inherent in the human condition.” Tenbusch contends that, for Nietzsche, truth is a “prejudicial, partial point of view, a necessary fiction” to “bring experience into manageable focus.” She draws an interesting parallel between Nietzsche’s “perspectivism” and the temporally co-constructed “truth” of the clinical interaction as seen in relational psychoanalysis where neither the analyst’s nor the patient’s perspectives are privileged. Tenbusch then goes on to exemplify the temporal, and temporarily “necessary” nature of necessary illusions in a clinical case example regarding changing narratives through the mutual work of treatment.

A very fitting conclusion to this issue, in keeping with our theme of “Trustworthy, Reliable Care while being Mortal,” is what I can only describe as an enjoyable and heart-rending “wild ride” of a contribution from Dias and Raubolt entitled Psychoanalysis is Not a Relationship. Their paper begins by recapitulating the role-play that took place during their IFPE conference presentation when one of the authors burst into the conference space enacting the role of a paranoid patient confronting his own analyst enacted by the other author.  As you read through the accusations and dialogue between the two, and as the stated hostilities melt into insights gleaned from and reflections upon the process of their long history together, what is revealed is a reaffirmation of the analytic encounter at its best – once the analyst offers to embrace and hold the patient’s mind inside his own mind, a gestational process can take place from which attachment, reflection, health and relationship can develop or, as the authors so beautifully stated, “it is the separation of souls after they had become one.”

–– Farrell Silverberg

References:    

Austin, J. L. (1975). How to do things with words. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Bakhtin, M. M. (1984). Problems of Dostoyevsky’s poetic. (Emerson, Trans.) Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Ogden, T. H. (2005), On psychoanalytic writing. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 86: 15–29.

Sontag, S. (1980). As consciousness is harnessed to flesh: Journals and notebooks, 1964-1980 (pp. 408-501). D. Rieff (Ed.). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Winnicott D. W. (1965). The maturational processes and the facilitating environment. New York: lnternational University Press.

Wittgenstein, L. (1972) On certainty. (Anscombe & von Wright, Eds.). D. Paul & G.E.M. Anscombe, Trans.). New York: Harper & Row.

pdf View/Download Full Issue in PDF Format

image002

Image:
Image: Jody Zellen, www.jodyzellen.com

Individual articles in this issue:

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: