Search This Blog

Sunday, 19 November 2017



2. Does Trainting Help Psychoanalysis or Hurt it?
      My question could sound frivolous because it cannot be answered before asking another preliminary question: what else is psychoanalysis if not what we are trained to practice? Training- up till now- is the only formal and settled way of acquiring knowledge and expertise in psychoanalysis. It is also the only way to formerly join the psychoanalytic community. The implicit characterisation of psychoanalysis as practice creates a paradox: psychoanalysis is the practice of psychoanalysis.
      In the first part I stressed that the psychoanalytic movement has benefited from the notion of training and the institute system. It allowed giving the new discipline the needed outline to grow and build an identity and to identify its membership. However, when the movement reached full extension and expansion and popularity in the late sixties and the early seventies it started to show signs of fatigue. Those signs showed themselves in a telling way: a trend toward divisions. The one analysis generated several schools, and the schools, with their explicit titles, claimed to be new modalities of psychoanalysis. Yet, they were merely expanding the boundaries of the theory (haphazardly most of the time), indirectly criticizing the limitations of the Freudian Theory and trying to replace it. The result was deterioration in the status of significance and distinction which psychoanalysis enjoyed since its inception. There was also noticeable decline in the interest of young professional in joining the movement. The schools of psychoanalysis created confusion instead of delivering clear ideas of what they suggested to replace the classical theory with. Notwithstanding, all the factions that came out of the main psychoanalytic body maintained the same method of qualifying its members: training in the accredited training institutes. In other terms: whatever the position the new schools took from psychoanalysis, psychoanalysis remained an issue of training. Psychoanalysts, whatever their theoretical bend could not see in psychoanalysis anything beyond its practice. 
      In the last part I tried to show that if it was not for Klein and Kleinian’s psychoanalysis, psychoanalysis would have stifled to death under the weight of ego psychology.  To make that statement relevant to a discussion I would say that ego psychology had a settled and established theoretical formulation of the intrapsychical components and their dynamic interactions, i.e., it had “things to know and to do”. For example, psychoanalysis (the practice) was to strengthen the ego to cope with the demand of the id and the super ego. Theory and practice were substitutes for each other. Klein and the Kleinians thought about those givens, questioned their nature, origins, their implications in understanding the psychical phenomena and what they stand for. For instance, identification was not any more a psychical happening that results from assimilating and owning a characteristic or an attribute of the object, i.e. not a mechanism.  Kleinian psychoanalysis viewed identification as part of the process of the formation of the subject. By doing that the psychoanalytic theory moved from giving things to know to explaining what to be known first. The most significant product of Kleinian psychoanalysis was a new conception of development: what happens to the intrapsychical configuration when the infant starts to have objects and relates to others? Development was not a happening to the psychosexual constituents of the subject, but a transformation in the dealing with the world: external and internal. They were in search of the meaning of what we encounter in clinical practice, and came up with concepts that sometimes were useful (the true and false self) and sometimes not so useful (the paranoid- schizoid position and the depressive position).  The difference between the two schools was that one had firm knowledge that does not need more thinking, and the other was inviting the process of thinking about what is known, because naming them did not explain much. Repeating my self: still although the Kleinians introduced several totally new conceptions to psychoanalysis about what we encounter in its practice and opened the eyes to the need to learn more about those concepts, the Eitingon model of training remained the core of psychoanalytic knowledge. Psychoanalysts refused (not resisted) to see psychoanalysis outside its practice mode despite the vast interest of the none clinicians and the intellectuals in psychoanalysis, since the end of the second world war.
      It was not only the Kleinians who kept the hart of psychoanalysis beating. In France, the end of the first split allowed some of the most dedicated and academicians analyst establish a new society that introduced the scholarly study of the Freudian text; an approach that left ego psychology behind and advance a new and brilliant approach to psychoanalysis. Even Lacan, who was for a while one of that new trend still delivered a dozen Seminars in his “return to Freud” which were exceptionally revealing of Freud’s genius. After that he began his own trip in psychoanalysis. Although I do not know what happened in South America except some responding to both Klein and Lacan, I cannot dismiss the possibility of some great psychoanalysis there judging by Matte-Blanco’s work on the unconscious. Although in both France and South America some significant improvement were introduced to the systems of training was still the only open door to learn psychoanalysis.  
      The Kleinian approach to psychoanalysis showed that there is more to ‘learn’ about the human subject than what training system was offering in the late forties and early fifties. The strong emergence of Keinianism proved that psychoanalysts should take serious steps to explore new domains of the intrapsychical field. Training was lagging behind the novel conceptions that exceeded the stale theory of ego psychology. Kleinianism and the new additions that came from the French and the South American schools of psychoanalysis opened psychoanalysis to the humanities (which existed but was still limited). The new discoveries in infancy could have started child psychology in the fifties on a brilliant course of research and findings. Bion’s theories of thinking and group dynamics could have given projective techniques (Rorschach, TAT, drawing, etc.)  major push to explore the Alfa and Beta elements and functions in psychometry and provide social and industrial psychology with a new vision of small and large group dynamics. Even Ego Psychology, which was almost dying, had things to offer to psychotherapy by the innovations suggested by Rappaport and Gill. There were things to learn and to do in psychoanalysis beside training. Better, the limited understating of psychoanalysis kept the analysts captives of the concept of training and the institutes as the only places for that training to take place. Conflating and fusing (confusing) learning and training in psychoanalysis hurt psychoanalysis badly, not only because it made us, psychoanalysts, miss the chance to link with the humanities, but made other psychoanalyses have the same fate of ego psychology. We turned the psychical processes into operational definitions; for example instead of talking about the ego as ‘ a thing’ we talked about the introjection of ‘part objects’ as a thing that actually happen. Worse, Kleinian psychoanalysis seemed to have something to say about the oral phase and much less to what happened after the infant dealt with the transitory objects, although the way of thinking about the old psychosexual model of developing could have benefited from the Kleinian additions to the oral phase, and extended it to the other psychosexual phases.
      Turning thought into concrete entities, or turning psychical processes into psychical concepts is almost a hidden unconscious agreement not to question each other about what we mean by what we say [ you know what I mean; we are both Kleinians or Lacanians]. This attitude is seldom if ever found in academia, but it is a the pervasive attituded in the training institutes in psychoanalysis: we are not supposed to expect more from training than training. What complicates matters more is that candidates are usually trained by senior analysts who have known affiliations to a school or another. Confusing training with learning made idealizing the training analysts take a disguise in idealising the school the TA follows. It less infantile or neurotic. The problem with the negative role the TA plays in training is not related to the position of the TA, and would disappear by eliminating that post. The problem is limiting psychoanalysis to the idea of training, which in itself puts all the emphasis on training and putting learning outside the equation of the formation of the candidate. The institutes of psychoanalysis are not supposed to be places to learn psychoanalysis but places to trained to practice it. If the reason is not that the TA is a clinician and not a teacher, then it is because the time and the organization of the curriculum in the institutes do not permit enough time to get into the basic propositions of the intrapsychical configuration.  Thus, the learning part in the formation of the new generation is reduced to knowing some fixed conceptions of a very dynamic filed of activity.  What is taught in the institutes is ready made concepts, description of processes that have clinical importence but are meaningless without a good theoretical verification and explanation.
      The answer to my question of does training hurt psychoanalysis is yes. Training blocks learning and gives the impression that what is to be learned regarding psychoanalysis is the technique of practicing it as psychotherapy. It is common in the institutes discourage the candidates who inquire about something implicit in a technical issue. This notion is an inherited parochial belief that psychoanalysis is psychotherapy and every thing else is merely application of its theory. Firstly, we do not have a theory of psychoanalysis yet. Secondly, psychoanalysis is part of and belongs to the humanities; it has a clinical application in the field of psychopathology. Thirdly, psychoanalysis could be taken both as a transitive verb and as a noun: as a verb it is an act that requires training, but as a noun it is a body of knowledge that demands learning. It started as an act but by now it is an important body of knowledge, clearly a component of the human sciences (idiographic sciences), and it is a big mistake to think that that its body of knowledge that could be obtained from other fields of the humanities is of no major importance to the clinicians.

      It is not a secret that psychoanalysts are the ones who reject (not just resist) changing the status quo in psychoanalysis. They are always ready to look into the flaws of the structure of their organizations and try to make modifications here and there. But, they are not ready to see that it is not simply a practice that could be learned by training. There are two obvious points: training in analysis is not learning psychoanalysis, and the institute system of training is not only outdated, it is counterproductive. Why then analysts do not want admit to those two obvious points and work on changing the institute model that was once our reason of existence and now is the threat of our demise. 

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Psychoanalysis: training or learning?

I am disappointed by the  new psychoanalyst’s he level of knowledge of the basic psychoanalytic concepts, and the way they understand and use the works of the main prominent creative psychoanalysts of the past. I base my dissatisfaction on what I regularly read in four main psychoanalytic journals.  My dissatisfaction does not come from disagreeing with what they publish, but from the distorted idea of psychoanalysis which they convey in their works, and using- in inappropriate ways- the works of genuinely creative minds of the past. I lived the glorious days of the splits in the British and the French societies, the rise and fall of ego psychology in the USA, and the birth of the schools of psychoanalysis. Yet, there was always a well protected and preserved core of psychoanalysis among the adversaries, i.e., there were somethings too fundamental to be distorted to fit a debate; the place of the unconscious (not the repressed) in the psychical phenomena, the place of the primary process in interpreting the patient’s material, and the significance of the transference in the psychoanalytic situation. I think the explanation of that unspoken agreement amongst the old and senior analysts came from firm, sturdy and well conducted system of training. We were all trained in psychoanalysis whatever the institute belonged or dominated by some prevailing ideas. I believe that the reason behind what I consider deterioration in contemporary psychoanalysis relates to training more than any other offered causes. That is what I want to discuss in this post. To be clear from the beginning, I am critical of the current attempts to modify, improve, and correct the flaws of the institute system of training despite the serious and sincere intentions of the people who are trying that. I will explain.   
First, I think the tripartite system of training was very logical at the start of the psychoanalytic movement. It guaranteed proper competence in practicing psychoanalysis. However, we have to remember that in the time Abraham and later Eitingon the theory of psychoanalysis was still evolving and there was more than a decade before Freud come to write “The Outline”. Moreover, despite Freud’s remarkable insights regarding the practice of psychoanalysis, which he wrote in 1912, there was little appreciation of its deep understanding of the process of psychoanalysis (I wrote a more extensive version of this idea in my book explaining the classical theory). All in all, psychoanalysis did not have a stable body of knowledge or a clear system of practice that correspond to that theory at the time. Training was necessarily done in institutes. All trades (and psychoanalysis at that early period was merely a budding trade) were doing that in the system of guilds that was the foundation of the industrial revolution and the birth of academia too.
…………………………………………..
1.The link between training and the theory:
It took the psychoanalytic movement three decades or more to come up with the notion of training the new comers to the movement. At the beginning, training was not the main objective but was the means to screen membership to the movement, and to give the message that recognising one’s affiliation to the movement has to be legitimate by the approval of the already recognised analysts, who ‘founded’ of the movement. This sensible condition became sort of tradition. The objective was very modest and legitimate at the time, because psychoanalysis was merely a new discipline looking for an identity (despite the majority of its members were physicians, some were not and Freud was of the opinion that it does not belong solely to medicine). Thus, establishing institutes for training was very logical because psychoanalysis as a new discipline with very little true literature to learn from had to rely on the old and experienced generation to transmit to the new generation their experience and knowledge; particularly in a one-to-one basis.
In the early phase of building the movement the three branches of training-seminars, supervision, and personal analysis- proved to be the natural and the only available way to transmit experience and knowledge; through personal contact. There was no way to show how analysis is done but by undergoing a period of personal analysis (that it is how it gained the title of didactic analysis). I do not remember the name of the analyst who suggested that didactic analysis is also essential so the psychoanalyst could get rid of his own difficulties. Supervision was also didactic in a more concrete sense of the term. The formation of local communities of analysts initiated the idea of systematizing revision of the available literature, and the seminars were established as the third leg in the tripod of training. Better, training reflected the state of affair in psychoanalysis at the time of its onset, and aimed at transmitting the experience of the old to the new in the fashion of training.
Up till Freud’s passing psychoanalysis was continuing the discovering the intrapsychical and exploring its transformations. As an example, Freud’s discovering of the contribution of infantile sexuality in psychical conflict brought out the notion of the sexual Trieb the ego Trieb. This polarity evolved to eventually become life and death polarity. The cathartic theory evolved into a theory of psychical transformations and constructs (I wrote about Freudian’s other theory that should replace the cathartic theory in 2013). However, Freud kept chasing a final configuration of his discoveries till the end, and maybe gave in to his daughter by accepting her version of ego psychology as a final articulation of the theory. Understandably, training changed into a refined, elaboration, and expansion of the demands of the tripartite system, and founding the institute model of training as the only way of learning psychoanalysis. However, Anna Freud’s presumption that the theory has already been completed, and it only needs to be practiced as such was heading for a big surprise: She just identified the beginning of psychoanalysis. 
While Anna Freud thought that ego psychology is the final version of a theory of the intrapsychical Melanie Klein was turning her attention from exploring the intrapsychical to its origin and early formation.   Her contribution was almost declaring the end of the Road for the Freudian psychology and the beginning of using it to explore something seriously new about the subject. The difference between A. Freud’s mechanisms of defense and Klein’s projective identification was like one closing the door on something established and the other is opening the door for crossing that established limit. Anna Freud calcified and reified the intrapsychical by making a neat description of its content, while Klein gave it life by showing its interpersonal origin and relational framework. Psychoanalysis was stepping out of Freud’s original frame work, thus was changing. Training remained the same tripartite system but personal analysis was expected to become more intense to meet the Kleinian conception of the intrapsychical. Although Kleinianism was not the school of thought in France, for instance, the extended length of time for personal analysis was adopted by the two traditional societies ( while the Lacanians made sort of a mockery of it). They added another aspect to personal analysis in training: a period of personal analysis before applying for training. I think this was a reflection of considering personal analysis separate from training and should be a matter of agreement between analyst and analysand.
The end of pure Freudian psychoanalysis of pressure, defense, and decathecting as the main intrapsychical dynamics, and the rise of psychoanalysis of the processes and transformations was a major theoretical change. Nonetheless it did not affect training in any noticeable way! It is an important question but answering it needs more examination of changes in psychoanalysis itself.
The distinction psychoanalysts made between ‘drive’ psychology and ‘relational’ psychology was interesting, useful but wrong. Classical psychoanalysis was not a drive psychology but of Trieb: the psychology of the representation of a wish in the mind. A representation of a wish IS the psychical, and comes as a manifest that has a content that necessitates its discovery by psychoanalysis. The psychology of the interpersonal is the psychology of the birth of the subject within early relations with the caregivers and the re-emergence of old relational configurations in the contemporary interpersonal relations of the subject. Better, Klein’s psychoanalysis was turning Trieben into be a bridge between the past and the present.  
Could that change have required revision of training and its parochial system? Yes, but the flawed distinction between drive psychology and relational psychology distracted us from the main issue. Nonetheless, it introduced to the training a novel issue in the practice of psychoanalysis: what is the best aspect of psychoanalysing that could reveal the unconscious link between the manifest and the latent in a psychical event? Without paying much attention to the nature of the Kleinian breakthrough analysts (unconsciously) were stated to look for the best method to reach the unconscious link between the manifest (the patient’s complaint) and its content. Better, analysts noticed that they have a chance to read in the patient’s interpersonal relations the unconscious link between the manifest and the latent. In the seventies of last century, the psychoanalytic scene exploded with the schools, which were merely the choice the analysts make in practicing psychoanalysis. 
The schools of psychoanalysis do not offer novel theories of the psyche as the followers think or prefer to think. The schools are not more than a preference of the medium the analyst choses to look for the unconscious. Arguing this point more and better would show that psychoanalysis (training) has to respond to those changes.

In the next section I will address a thorny topic: Does the idea of training the psychoanalysts serves psychoanalysis or hurts it?

Friday, 6 October 2017



Separated Realities
Anyone familiar with the filed of psychiatry is also familiar with the notion that psychotic patients are detached from reality. Yet, anyone who worked with psychotic patients knows that they have their own realities, which is not totally chaotic or loosely put together; their realities are strongly convincing to them. It just isolates them from other realities behind the thick line of psychosis, a line that does not allow crossing it from both directions preventing exchanging ideas.
We (none psychotics) have our own personal realities too. It separates us from other realities with a thin line of subjectivity. It is thin because it could be crossed both ways: we allow others to cross it to test our reality and we cross it to test theirs. It goes without saying that all that happens in relative degrees of easiness. Despite the ease of that exchange we still maintain our own reality behind that thin line of subjectivity.
I have three reasons to mention this simplistic conception of the clashes of realities: The last mass murder in Las Vagus, Trumps speech in the UN a couple of weeks ago, and a subtle but important clinical matter.
It seems that the guy who did the shooting in Vegus did not show any signs of psychosis or history of serious cognitive pathology. He did not cross from his side of the line to our realities. However, his act of shooting has all the signs of psychosis of the schizophrenic (thought disorder). An act of that nature suggests a moment or a short period of psychotic breakdown. Could that what has happened? We are accustomed to measure the severity of mental disorder by the severity of the acts that result from them,  not by the severity of the psychical condition itself, which could lay dormant and naturally out the patient’s own judgment. Dormant sever psychoses is seldom explored now a day, because of many positive developments in psychiatric care and many negative changes in our social life. This “crazy” man was going through a breakdown of his line of reality for only few months before he acted upon it. It showed before his overt breakdown in the spree of buying guns and ammunitions beyond any reasonable proportions to just committing his heinous crime. The personal reality of this man jumped the line and came to our world with a bang. His reality replaced other realities by jumping over the psychotic barrier. .
Trumps speech in the UN was another example of crossing a thick line between his reality and the ‘world’s’ reality.  The reality of the situation was a gathering of presidents, prime ministers and rulers of nations, to give homage to the organization that represents the whole world…..not the  place or the time to declare or initiate any national policy. This REALITY did not penetrate the thick line of Trump’s reality, which is confidence in succeeding to manipulate any crowd as he does in Alabama and Tennessee. The barrier that kept the reality of the situation from reaching him is “narcissism”. We all know that there is a gap between I and Me and that there is a difference between saying I am so and so and being that so and so. In Trump’s case there is no gap between the two pronouns and possibly he has no sense of I-ness to build that gap. Thus, reality to him is not an issue to fret about because it is what he says what it is.
Clinically, we work to introduce the patient to that thin line between his subjective reality and other realities. In a way we suggest crossing that barrier. The neurotic’s psychical difficulty is in that regard is what we call phantasy (his reality is phantasmic). The patient’s phantasy is his identity; it is his Me. It is the identity which was gradually he built from his caregiver’s definition of him during growing up. Its phanatasmic quality stems from unconsciously assimilating what the caregivers thought of him and maybe what he should be. It is not phantasy because there was no realty to compare with in his early childhood. Keeping that in mind should make us carful in crossing the line of the patient’s reality and trying to bring it more closely to another- so called- more or better reality. It could be more harmful to lose this phantasmic reality in the process of analysing it as a phantasy. because all what we could achieve by doing so is suggesting leaving something cardinal in one’s identity without having something to replace it.
I remember three cases that baffled me at the time of working with them and I was able to understand few years after my work with them ended. Two of them left the analysis by their request (one very angry and disappointed) when I became more active in bringing their unconscious reality into focus. The third patient was showing signs of regression when I tried to do that and I had to terminate her analysis before I could have considered it properly terminated.
Final statement in that regard: the most difficult and important in psychoanalysis is dealing with material stemming from parental input especially of that input was accompanied by its verbal equivalent. This explains to me the Americans resistance to eliminating the second amendment which was to serve a temporary purpose when it was adopted, As with patients, doubting or giving up a recommendation by parental authority (the forefathers) creates the anxiety of loosing the nation’s identity, without that amendment the US will not be the same. In a previous mass killing in 2015 there was a TV encounter with a young mother surrounded by her three children who just bought a gun saying she has to protect herself and her kids. That was her reality that  neglected that she lives in a country of great police forces and an equally great judicial system. What the forefathers said becomes the ultimate and the name of the one and only reality.

Question: could we psychoanalysts insist on Eitingon’s model of training for the same reason.  

Saturday, 9 September 2017




Hints about the theory of the subject:

After an interesting exchange with a colleague about the “theory of the subject” I replied to some of his queries in the following note, which he seemed to be a greable to publish it on my blog.

I believe we do not have the same meaning for the term “theory”. A theory, epistemologically speaking, is a statement (s) regarding a subject matter in which the theory provides a comprehensive understanding of the link between the structure and the function of that subject matter. I limit my usage of that definition to what I consider a theoretical aspect in psychoanalysis. Freud did not have a theory of psychoanalysis but had three theories about issues he dealt with in investigating the intrapsychic (dreams, sexuality and Trieb (instinct). For example, his theory of dreams goes that way: a dream’s structure is combining the day residue and a corresponding infantile situation in a visual image, in which the unpleasant condition that instigated the dream is changed to a better outcome (fulfilling a wish). The theory also includes an extensive elaboration of the manner the unpleasant instigator of the dream is transformed into the visual nature of the dream. The theory also shows the mechanisms that makes the function of the dream (wish fulfilment) reach its objective through that particular structure (the dream). I cannot see how psychoanalysis as a whole (not as theories of dreams and theories of sexuality and Trieben) could have a comprehensive theory without a comprehensive theory of the subject, as an ontological entity. Let us go to something concrete. Medicine in the middle ages was a practice without a theory; just very few procedures that were practiced, like bleeding patient of fever or infections. In needed a comprehensive theory of the subject (the person who gets sick) to be become a true profession of medicine. Basically, we still believe in some sort of modified theories of catharsis: make the patient get rid of his neuroses by bleeding out his unconscious as confession, without any idea of how revealing the repressed cures. We also aspire to provide the patient with what could replace his neuroses with new fresh psychical constructs. All that without a theory of the subject or even of cure (in first fifty years of psychoanalysis there was a deep conviction that we work according to a theory of pathology and of cure).

        Some physicians in the middle ages started to investigate the ‘intrafunctions’ of the human body and gradually built the theory of physiology in which each organ has a function that corresponds well with its structure. They also considered the whole body a physiologically dynamic functional entity. At the sametime, when the prohibition on anatomy was lifted anatomy complimented physiology with a better understanding of the anatomical nature of the organs. A better conception of modern medicine was thus born. We do not have such a comprehensive theory of the subject equivalent to physiology and anatomy in medicine. Therefore, we can only claim that our practice of psychoanalysis is ‘points of view’. What we have is modalities, assumptions of functions derived from each analyst’s understanding of their signification, and some idiosyncratic vocabularies. What we need is a theory of the subject as an ontological entity (homosapiens). The human subject is the only living entity that has an intrapsychical life, which has distinct manifestations that are absent even in the high primates. The intrapsychical life of the subject gives him the latent psychoneurotic nature., which other living entities are ‘deprive’ of.
       We practice with objectives and criteria of our creation and based on a belief that they are supported by the theory we adopt. This is belief is unsubstantiated  because what analysts used to have is Freud’s ever developing and changing theoretical configurations. After his death every “idealised” analyst had input in the heritage Freud left us. Freud’s importance is in being the first thinker who stipulated firmly that the human subject has an internal psychical life (in contrast with the banality of knowing that we have human reactions) and that intrapsychical life is affecting ALL our apparent human reactions. Better, Freud is the first thinker who pointed out that understanding human reactions will come from exploring the intrapsychical life of the subject. It is important to note that the insight that created psychoanalysis was the product of more than half a century of laborious works that were full of twists and turns. It was not a brilliant insight that hit Freud like Einstein’s first of two insights that engendered his two theories of relativity. It is important to underline this fact because Freud’s significance appears only when he is studied scholarly to comprehend the way of thinking that was prophylactic against the sudden and premature death of his endeavour. This is a better way of idealizing him. Therefore, we need to investigate and study the intrapsychical enough and better to derive from it what we could use to formulated the theory of the subject. This has to be a collective, collaborative work.
       My interest in the subject pulled my attention to four psychoanalytic Freudian discoveries in the intrapsychical: the wish and wishing, the duality of the I and the Me in self conception, sexuality (infantile and adult) and anxiety. I believe that those four intrapsychical could help other analyst in advancing the theory quickly.  Those four attributes distinguish the human subject from all other living entities including the higher primates. They are also of significant diagnostic value within the homosapiens entity. We can, or used to be able, to relate most of the subjects creative and pathological manifestation to the dynamics of those attributes. Psychoanalysis has to go through the same process that gave medicine its physiology and anatomy; and pharmacology too. Discovering (and or assimilating) the notion that the human subject as a dynamic system of psychological function that integrate to create the psychological human being we deal with, is an essential demand if we want to continue calling ourselves psychoanalysts. I can say that psychology, as an academic discipline has covered a great deal of that territory but got no help from psychoanalysis to compliment the cognitive discoveries in psychology. In other words, the theory of the subject, the physiology and anatomy of the psychological human being, needs to be constructed and seriously construed with an eye on what we still do not know about our intrapsychical life.      However, this is not possible to consider unless we agree on an answer to this question: Is psychoanalysis education or training?


       A couple of years ago I was expressing the idea that training needs a general overhaul and academia should be considered as a way to get to that point. The idea of moving psychoanalysis from the institute system of training to academia, was not well put together in my mind. Thanks to Dr. Arlyne Richards’s sharp mind, she put the problem in this format: education instead of training. What we cannot miss is the psychoanalysts’ preference of training over education. I do not need to delve into the conscious and the unconscious reasons for that preference. However, the main point in answering this question is that psychoanalysis was born as training, not out of choice but out of necessity. There was nothing much to consider the issue of education, and whatever was there to study was piecemeal knowledge. Moreover, Freud and his followers, that will one day require anything different from what they were doing.at that time. They were limited clinicians.  E. Roudinesco (2016) said:” Freud had thus invented a “discipline” not only impossible to integrate into the field of physical or natural science but into that of human sciences, an area that had been steadily expanding since the late nineteenth century. For scientist, psychoanalysis belonged to literature; for anthropologists and sociologists, it attested to the resurgence of the ancient mythologies; in philosophers’ eyes, it resembled a strange psychology that had sprung up both Romanticism and from Darwinianism, while psychologist saw in it as putting the vert principle of psychology in danger” (217). No blaming her but to us practicing psychoanalysts. We did not develop the theory of the subject in conjunction with the other blooming sciences and imprisoned ourselves in a narcissistic imaginary isolation. If and when we will configure a theory of the subject we would then provide the neurologist, the biologist, the geneticist, and maybe the pharmacologist with few hypothesises that could guide their pure scientific research in regard of the nature of the human subject, which distinguishes him from the rest of the rest of the living creatures. We could also do something similar with the human sciences.  One of the most important attributes of the human subject is hummer and laughter. It is more than just a differential characteristic of the human subject, it is also-in a way- a differential diagnostic feature. Moreover, it is a developmental yardstick in the evolution of the human infant. We could come up with many questions to aske the the academic psychologist (adult and child) about this feature and let him create a scientific theory about this human subject’s useful attribute, which is a new and rich method of expression (forget the Alamo, and remember Freud’s book on Jokes, 1905).There is a wealth of issues about the subject that has been dug out by the related human sciences that we, as they, needed to work together to create a more comprehensive theory of the human subject. The training system., especially in our institute system, is physically inadequate to regenerate psychoanalysts. Future psychoanalysts need few years of full time education by academics from the other branches of science. A more enlightened training program has to be developed to make psychoanalysis less restricted and not associated solely with the couch. It is expected that this method of preparing future scientific psychoanalysts will not be accepted by the current candidates of training.  Logically, psychoanalysis in its present state will die in two or three decades. However, I firmly believe that psychoanalysis is the genie that came our of Alaadeen’s  (Freud’s) lamp and no one could put it  back anymore. We will eventually wake up. 

Saturday, 12 August 2017

I wrote this post yesterday as an email to a colleague. I had no intention to publish it. But what happened in Virginia (USA) today changed my mind.

The Crisis of not Being the Only One:
The historical event the US is going through is- in a very brief way- the following.
The USA was the least affected country by WWII. It came out of it with all her industrial and infrastructure bases intact, and relatively with the least loss in its manpower. She was Defacto, the leader of the Western world, and the only power in the world. She replaced the old European colonial countries in their holding everywhere.  She helped Europe to recover and helped in building the Iron Curtain around the USSR (as Churchill recommended). Only very lately (last 35 years) Europe recovered enough to not need the US as a leader anymore, but just as a partner. The world also advanced to the point that having a country as a leader of other counties was a hindrance to progress and to good political interrelations.
This change created a difficulty for the US politicians. Because of the wide spread influence of the USA in the world it entered several wars, far from the homeland, and lost them all. The politicians depended on claiming that they are “making” the US the greatest thing in the history of nations, to play with the emotions of their constituents, who were mislead most of the time (not in the Vietnam war). There was a clear link between failures abroad and some dissatisfaction internally and the increase of the politicians effort of agrondization to mislead. It was difficult to keep the constituents in check without misleading them by increasing the  rhetoric of the Greatest country in the world, the Greatest democracy in the world, the Greatest wisdom of its forefathers (which are all not true). All of Europe is democratic and have a very simple and practical system of election the US could be envious of. WE ANALYSTS know what a wave of self deception comes from, aims at, and leads to.
There comes Trump. He personalized the frustrated Uncle Sam for gradually loosing his status as the leader of the world, and someone who has a hurt  self image. Trump, litraly verbalized those feelings and promised to get the US her lost position as…….. He responded in an adolscents way: will punish you by not being friends again. He was hurt by Europe’s attitude  because he is so uneducated. He did not realize that the USA dragged Europe into several loosing wars and was no longer a wise leader to folow. The USA is  also t reluctant to admit the truth: there are four big political entities in the world: the USA, the European Union, China and Russia, (maybe will be joined by two more in a couple of decades; India and South America). The differences between those four do not mean much in modern times. However, what is even more painful in loosing the status of the leader of the world is the disappearance of the imaginary enemy that the US  will protect us all from. Maybe there was one big enemy to the western world some twenty years ago, but not now. Thus, the US had to invent one and promise to eventually  conquer and save the world from, (a target for projection).
Trump, personalizes the narcissistically hurt USA, and is supported by the millions who are also narcissisticallt hurt because they were always masters of others (Blacks, Chicanos, Immigrants, etc.). Our issue is not in agreeing on trump’s  diagnosis. Agreeing on a diagnosis of trump- that is if it is possible- aims at convincing ourselves that we have something to offer. What would that do but satify ourselves and give each other a pat on tha back? I supported .......’s view that being busy finding a diagnosis for Trump is a distraction…..from the narcissistic mortification, which  a large section of the country is experiencing. Though we cannot treat a country, at least we can put pressure on the politicians to stop exploiting people’s distress and address the main issue: what the USA has to do to live in a world of equals.  
Revising the theory:
The issue of the theory of psychoanalysis touches the narcissism of the psychoanalysts. We have never had a theory of psychoanalysis and still do not have one. Freud started with hypnosis to discover repression. Thus, he formulated the Cathartic theory of psychopathology. It came from a practice and to explain the purpose of that practice. He continued to discover in practice that the repressed is more complicated than mere hurtful events, so he created a theory based on what practice revealed: the frustration of a certain energy (Sexuality) which he called libido. Libido theory led to a concept of psychotherapy based on metapsychological understandings. Psychotherapy ‘a la metapsychology’ led to the structural conception of the subject. But once again it was not a viable theory because the unconscious was left behind in the topographic model. In all those shifts and turns psychoanalytic theory was an after thought; after an improvement in psychotherapy. Nevertheless,  psychoanalysts were content with having an ongoing process of improvising “psychoanalytic vocabulary”. It gave them a chance to create psychoanalytic templates that made them  look as if they have a theory and know it all.
 After Freud’s death analysts improvised theories based on their preferred practice sof psychotherapy (Ego, Relational, Interpersonal, Self (instead of ego), etc. Two things could be extracted from this fact: We never had a theory but a series of theories of psychoanalysis that reflects ideas derived from several psychotherapies. Secondly, they were not theories of psychoanalysis but theories of practicing psychoanalysis, which is a basic and serious distortion of the link between theories and practices. In respectable sciences theory comes first to engenders practice, not practice that generates theories.  No example required to prove this fundamental fact.     
If we do not have a theory of psychoanalysis what is to revise?
Freud was aspiring all his life (review his correspondence (since 1896) to have a theory of the human subject; better a theory of the normal. He succeeded in leaving us and abundance of ideas, insights, concepts, suggestions, etc., about the normal subject but stopped short of formulating a final theory of him. Thus, we need to revise our priorities in advancing psychoanalysis as  a theory of all that is related to the subject. We seriously need to rethink the issue of selecting, educating, training, and forming the psychoanalysts of the future. Fortunately, there will  still be a place for psychotherapy in that project. We have to revise our knowledge of the human subject because up till now it came from theories of psychopathology that emanated from practices of psychotherapy that were themselves  without a credible theoretical foundation. Imagine an Atlas of Anatomy based on the finding of surgens of all specialities and skills. We have to revise the belief that we are actually practicing a theory.

The issue of what would be kept of the old theories of psychotherapy and what should be removed and  added will never be settled properly unless a serious, honest, and a collective  agreement on doing away with the parochial archaic institute sytem of training. 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

The Bad Psychoanalytic Societies
The problem with the badness of the psychoanalytic societies is the lack-even the absence- of a solution to their badness, because they are created and structured to be bad.  The psychoanalytic societies are descendants of the ‘secret committee’ of the 1912. That committee was meant to protect Freud from his adversaries. It was not formed for a good purpose. It was established by Jones to  maintain certain  secrets, and the secret selection of a group of privileged analysts, who would be entrusted with the protection of Freud, and protecting psychoanalysis from the deviations of the open  members of the societies. There is no place in this post to detail how this secret committee became the porotype of all our psychoanalytic societies. Anyhow, the psychoanalytic societies are not meant to be nice; on the contrary, they are supposed to be bad because they are protecting certain people and maintaining their privileged status secret, with the assumption that those are the guardians of the profession and the good analysts. Their positions in the organization are secure for life and they oversee the choice of the next generation politicians. We encounter this type of societies only in illegal organizations. Honestly, I do not mean by that to be sarcastic or mean. I just see blatant resemblance between certain illegal organizations and our organization, and I do not know of any professional society that runs the way the psychoanalytical societies are run.
As long as the psychoanalytic societies are overtly meant to protect psychoanalysis from the deviations of its members but actually and covertly protects the privileges of some members, psychoanalysis will be degraded and the internal relationships between the members will also deteriorate. The result of that is  neglecting the standards of professional communication, acrimonious groupings, and a tendency to splitting. I am sure that we all notice those three results in our past and current status of the psychoanalytic societies.
In my last year as undergraduate and early graduate studies (mid Fifties) I learned from my professors few things about the “controversies’ in London, and more about the split in Paris. But what left a lasting impression on me (because I witnessed and live an episode in it) was the Lacanian convulsions to separate with his group from the French Association when he felt strong enough to do that. When I moved to North America in the early seventies I read about and noticed from distance some of the shenanigans in the APsaA in the past, and followed more closely the crisis in the West coast organization when Bion was invited by some, and the Kohutian disappointment for missing the chance to be the president.
The psychoanalytic societies (almost everywhere in the world) are doing the same thing: the senior members who rule the society leave psychoanalysis to God to save it and they take care of their own especial privileges. The appeal to change has to go through them, therefore it is very illogical to expect any change. Added to that, the ordinary member does not have any notion about what has to be changed and to what. I know. I lasted eight years as a member of the training committee and four years as associate director of the institute. I witnessed  few things that are very difficult to change and are out of the reach of the members, even to the training analysts who are not fully cooperative in running matters.
 Arnold Richards asked this question in one of his last communications: Some feel that it would be better for candidates and institutes that the training analyst not be part of the political and organizational structure of institutes Is that practical? Is that possible?  Worth discussing?
I think it is worth raising but not worth discussing. First, who is going to separate the privileged from his privileges? Second, this is not possible because you cannot separate the privileged training analyst from the privilege to also be  a politician. Third, the present situation in the psychoanalytic societies, as was the old situation too, is a product of the system of training; it is engrained in the way the societies are formed. Better, the system of training is the safeguard against changing the status quo in the societies.
The Eitingon system of training was originally established to organize (control) the membership to the psychoanalytic society. Training was the means to streamline the wishers to join the society by creating a frame work for choosing those wishers based on what was available at the time to identify the serious from the not serious.  After decades of discussing, arguing, criticizing, complaining of our system of training there is an unhealthy refusal to see and acknowledge that the Eitingon system of training came out of the necessities of the period, and is not dictated by anything related to the purpose of training as such. What I mean is that training in Eitingon’s time was not instituted to train but to choose the proper members, while now it is presumed to be for training. Training was and still is a pretext to choose the candidates whom we consider suitable…to what!! I say that because:1) there is an obvious decline in the appeal for training which practically speaking ‘leave us no choice’, 2) the standards of candidates and graduates show signs of continual deterioration (my experience in Canada, and the calibre of discussion that we get on the net suggest that).
There nothing in the theory of psychoanalysis itself, or the demands put on the practicing psychoanalysts by the ethics of the profession that could explain the reason for opting to still adopt the Institute System of training and continue it from Eitingon’s time. Giving up that system is not sacrilegious. We should do what Eitingon himself did: build a training system that suit our time in regard to the psychoanalysis we have now, decide what means of training are available to us, what type of trainees we expect to get, and what do we expect of the new psychoanalysts.  Up till now we still keep the tripartite model in training future psychoanalysts: learn Freud’s work and some of his collaborators’, undergo a relatively good period of psychoanalysis for therapeutic or didactic purpose !!1, and practice clinical psychoanalysis under supervision of few senior analysts. The purpose of that system of training was and still is to train practitioners  psychotherapy.  All that is done in specialized institutes administered by senior analysts; which gives training the meaning that was once  there for training for a guild (trade).

 To go back to Richards query, I would say that the present system of institute training is backward, primitive, is unsuitable for psychoanalysis of today. Whatever patch work will be done to it, it will still graduate immature analysts whether professionally or emotionally. Because the bad psychoanalytic societies are creatures of bad institutes there is no chance that psychoanalysis will survive. The natural step forward is to start negotiating with universities to accept psychoanalysis as one of its programs with the idea that gradually we will phase out the institute system completely and get the graduates the recognition of the IPA. We have to do that quickly before psychoanalysis loses whatever is left of its credibility and the universities would not consider our appeal any more.    

Monday, 10 July 2017


Idealization and self dception



I previously published a post on idealization in regard to its deleterious effect on training and interrelations within the psychoanalytic organizations. The gest of my post was: idealization is a way to give one’s self greater value than it deserves by idealizing something or some person whom we are in relation with. Idealizing psychoanalysis is a way for analysts to feel bigger than themselves (and others). Idealizing a TA is an obvious symbiotic exploitation of superiority and identifying with the TA.  Idealizing the theory as it stands now, or our special training in our special institutes as something unattainable anywhere else is blatant efforts to idealize ourselves. There is a serious problem in that position: only us (less than 3500 members) believe in our superiority, because we relate to each other not as analysts to analysts but as mirrors to each other..  

Today’s quote (Arnold Richards) comes from Anna Freud: "Papa continually emphasizes how much remains unexplained. With the other psychoanalytic writers, everything is always so known and fixed." This is a waning to us all. Complicity to idealization of psychoanalysis and to everything related to it will kill it without effort from us to save it: Save what, psychoanalysis! Psychoanalysis is perfect and it is our saviour! This kind of narcissism survives on self deception. .Did you notice that when we agree with an opinion on the open line we routinely praise the college and when we differ we remind ourselves of the magnificence and  insignificance of the disagreement.   

Friday, 23 June 2017



About the Postings on the Theory of the Human Subject.



It was my ambition, in the last few years and since publishing my book on future psychoanalysis in 2015, to show that psychoanalysis did not just create a theory of psychopathology and psychotherapy but was essentially a theory of the human subject. I tried lately to write a short exposition on the issue of the human subject and publish it in parts in my blog. After a short time, I realized that this task requires the efforts of a group of analysts who realize the significance of deducing a theory of the human subject from the literature of psychoanalysis. Moreover, I had a difficulty in putting my ideas in a concise way. There were many side ideas that kept diverting my attention. They did not belong in a blog because they were more evolved.  They were important enough and have clear intrinsic relationship to the contemporary unsatisfactory condition of psychoanalysis to go over them lightly. They prove that  the absence of a theory of the human subject, if not a cause for the deterioration of contemporary psychoanalysis, at least the existence of such theory is vital in reviving psychoanalysis. What I mean is that neglecting the need for a theory of the human subject that compliments the clinical point of view  was the reason or the cause of the present unsatisfactory condition of clinical psychoanalysis and its loss of credibility.
This is talk but no action. The action, in my case, is to ‘put my pen where my mouth is’. This is what I decided to do: write a book or a booklet on the theory of the human subject, instead of tinkering with a posting on the subject. I have an altruistic reason for taking this decision. Psychoanalysts acknowledge the existence of a crisis that is unavoidably going to end psychoanalysis in a couple of decades. They have no alternative, and maybe no better thing to do but to let it die. However, the psychoanalysis that they are unable to save is not “psychoanalysis”. The example to this paradox could come from politics. Communism died a couple of decades ago when the Berlin wall was demolished, Marxism did not die but even proved to be the only theory that could explain the collapse of communism. Marxism has always considered communism a stage in the evolution of history, thus it should reach the point when it had to collapse. Psychoanalysis (Freudianism) emphasizes the significance of development and maturity as its product. After decades of justified idealization of Freud followed by unjustified adulation of some of his companions and followers we should have matured enough and started to create our own psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is a theory of the subject who is not anymore the Viennese Herr. I hope that in few moths I will be able to fined a publisher to publish my booklet on the theory of humans subject.

Two questions I think could clarify the subject of this theory. Does psychoanalysis have anything to say about “me” who is not neurotic or psychotic in any shape, form, or degree!!!? If it does not, is that because it has nothing nice to say about people?   

Friday, 16 June 2017

I intended to publish the second and last part of my posting on Trump this weekend. I think it is much better to let the events that started today to do the finishing.
 
Before I leave the posting I want to mention an improvised diagnosis made by a bright psychiatry resident at the weekly case presentation at Ste. Mary's hospital in Montreal few decades ago: Counter phobic character disorder....It might be useful following what is going to happen in the next few  weeks or months.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Trump in Perspective: A Point of View
 Part One: Trump and Western Civilization
I am going to differ with some colleagues in regard to narcissism. Narcissism is the most unconscious condition in psychical life. In relation to Trump’s condition I suggest considering ‘self deception’. Self deception is part of character formation and is done consciously and leads to all sorts of forms; one of them self aggrandizement. The self-deceived person believes in his deceptions. I think, from watching Trump on TV he is way deep in self deception, and enticed his supporter to do the same and self deceive themselves.  
…………………………………..
Because this posting is controversial and will raise many eyebrows and objecting voices I will start by specifying three underlying ideas that are the basis of my argument. Thus, if you disagree with them you could save your effort and time by not reading the posting:
1.     Psychoanalysis has no theory of social phenomena (group and historical). Applying the psychodynamics of the individual on society (treating it as an individual) is misleading. As we look for the intrapsychical in the individual we should be looking for intra-social dynamics in society. However, I will try show that there is a certain similarity between the two processes shortly.

2.     It is also erroneous to use the diagnosis of a historical character to explain the historical events that he might have created (not even with Hitler). Historical characters are just agents and tools conceived and amplified by the society to fulfill a historical objective. Hitler alone would not have gave birth to the European Union and Israel.

3.     This last idea is the very basis of my posting: There are two links between psychoanalysis and social theories, particularly Marxism: A. All psychical and historical phenomena are products of dialectical interactions and not results of haphazard dynamics (psychopathology is the outcome of impeding the natural course of a dialectical course, and wars are the result of impeding the natural course of social evolution). B. All phenomena-individual or social- are ‘determined’, their causes are embedded within them, But reaching that determinism happens in the individual’s event by analysing it, and by rebuilding the social or the historical event from the preceding events. They are similar but work in opposite directions. We analyse a dream to find out how it was unconsciously structured, and use a historical event to restructure and understand a previous historical episode. The historical event of the Versailles treaty restructures all the vents that led to WWII.
----------------------------------------

When Trump withdraw from the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation followed by withdrawing from the Paris agreement the reaction was ominous: The US was withdrawing from the international scene- not just as its leader for the last seven decades- but as the most significant country in the world, as her politicians liked to call her. This is happening now under a false conviction that the US has no replacement in that role, therefore the whole world will get into disarray and be forced to accommodate her to remain its leader. This is a foundational conviction of few million Americans; conviction, which as we will see later is historically logical but politically illogical.

The actual problem is that lately- at least since the Soviet Union (then) created a communist government in Afghanistan in1971, the world entered a phase of disarray that had and still have unimaginable consequences. The most important consequence is the birth of ISIS, which is just the tail end of those consequences. The sequence of those events is the intrasocial structure of the current global disarray. It is important to consider them in any understanding of what is happening in the US now. But, it is not within my ability to do that properly and it is of no interest to psychoanalysts. However, we can say that after jumping few decades ahead of its present, the US people elected a black president of an impressive CV and a list of great achievements during his presidency. Yet history proved to pay no attention to the importance of individual political leaders.  Eight years later millions of the US citizens regressed mush more than anyone would have expected and elected the antithesis of Obama; a man with a very shameful CV and a list of four bankruptcies attesting to his incompetence, and more.

What could have interfered with the natural dialectical process of progress in the US to elect Trump? Reconstructing the vents that led to that drastic interfering in history is very interesting and vital, but it has to be done by historians of a certain background.  Because I am a psychoanalyst and speaking mainly to psychoanalysts I will concentrate on one idea: Is Trump really an oddity in historical terms or is he a logical choice for the moment? Remember, there is no chance for escaping historical determinism.

Trump’s shenanigans, especially when he caused the US to lose its long-accepted role as the leader of the world, even by its adversaries, reminded me of two books; one I read in the early 1960, and one I just finished few weeks ago. The first is a book written by a German philosopher (Spingler) which he published in 1922 (seventeen years before WWII; the other is by Richard Haass, published in 2017. The first is about “The Decline of the West” and the second is about the contemporary disarray of our world.

Spingler proposed that the history of humanity went through eight civilizations. Although his specification of those civilizations could be debated, his notion that civilisation moved from the east to the west in a consistent geographical sequence is easy to accept. According to him, and common sense, the Western Civilisation, which we are part of now, is the most recent and the one susceptible to decline. Although I do not remember his argument about its decline and what would replace it when this is done, it still kept me thinking about that issue. Nowadays when we see the world’s condition and a man like Trump becoming president of the leader nation of most of the world, one has to ask: is this the end of the Western Civilization (I do not mean that in terms physical destruction) or could this be the birth of the replacement of that civilizations?

To answer this complex question, I find some leading ideas in Haass’s book entitled “A World in Disarray”. As a political analyst, he gives a detailed reconstruction of the recent events that could give us an answer to the question: Is Trump the end of something or the beginning of something. I want to underline the fact that historical characters are not the initiator of change but merely products of change.

The gist of Haass’s book is world order, how it is reached and how it is lost. He argues that after a world’s crisis happens and resolved - mostly by war-, the victors reach agreements that decides the relationships amongst themselves and with the vanquished. He concludes from the beginning of his book that world’s order that was reached after signing the armistice of WWII and the surrender of Japan is now in disarray. The rest of the book makes an anatomy of the current situation showing how in every corner of the world this order is collapsing. This point of view validated Spengler’s idea of the collapse of the west. Yet, there are few things that points at a different picture. First, the nuclear deterrent is preventing any thought about solving the problem by war as used to happen before. Second, a significant part of the world does not believe much anymore in nationalism and leans toward globalization. Third, the globalization movement has gained independence of governmental control and governments are no longer able to decide anything about commitments and allegiances. (notice what Trump wants to take the US to). Everything now points at the birth of a new civilization that is going to replace the Western Civilization: a global civilization. Europe is showing that this civilization has been in the making for few decades (See Fisk: The European Dream). Obama as a politician was quite open and accepting in that new order (push for regional and international agreements). Contrary to Trump he wanted the West to link with the East not on Geopolitical basis but on trade cooperation. Trump revealed shameful ignorance of international affairs (intellectual) and wanted to undo all that progress which thw hole world is heading for.   
 The most amazing thing in this whole matter is how the world was already ready to moving from the primitive concept of Western Civilization to Global Civilization. The moment Trump renounced the US’s allegiance to regional alliances those alliances discounted the US, and in the same day showing that they were open for new alliances with China and give the hints that Russia will be next.  There is something of interest to even the already bored reader of this posting. We have works describing in detail the rise and fall of empires, nations, civilizations etc. But we cannot get from them the real feel of living the events of the fall of those institutions or the birth of the new ones. But here we are at the very moments of an old civilizations falling and a new one rising. It tells us something very significant about a possible psychoanalytic theory of social events.
In clinical psychoanalysis, we work through a pathological component for weeks and months without a comprehensive understanding of the matter, and unexpectedly a dream, a slip of the tongue, or a minor acting out would reveal the unconscious structure of that component and put the working through in frame. Analysis leads to the unconscious. In social events, we witness historical or social events and understand each separately but without being able to predict what they are leading to. Then comes an event and surprisingly all what we understood before takes a new meaning. All the events that were happening in the cold war took a new meaning as a surprise. All the events from Afghanistan in 1979 till now with the lection of Trump seems to be interconnected and nothing happened haphazardly. those events which made no sense when they happened could explain to us how after the election of Obama the US elected Trump. A psychoanalytic theory of social and historical events has to be about discovering “History’s unconscious”. It has to be a theory of getting meaning from historical events that could explain the historical characters, not visa versa. 
Trump and His Devotees.
Nine-elven was a major blow to the ‘insulated’ American pride because of the extent of damage it caused and its implicit message of the vulnerability of the country (not even in any war did the US lose a building). If we add to that the mild failures in Afghanistan and the major failure in Iraq we realize that a normal reaction to 9\11 was narcissistic rage that hit the whole population of the US, pro-war an anti war alike. Fortunately, and also unfortunately the recovery from this shock was quick and very impressive. In less than the eight years of Obama’s presidency the US recovered and improved its status.  The economy recovered completely, the country was moving ahead smoothly, Obama as a ‘cultured’ person sensed that the US has to be part of the larger world and he joined few important regional trade and economic organizations, gained the respect and confidence of most of the significant political entities. But the recovery was too to fast for a sizable section of the society to assimilate. Some people remained in their state of narcissistic rage being. Those people were prone to self deception for different reasons.
However, there is also a factor that exasperated the situation. Maybe as a stranger I was more attentive to it than the average American. After 9\11 American politicians and public figures never missed a chance to talk about the US as the greatest, the most powerful, the most democratic and the one with the highest values in the world. Even if that is true (which is not) it tempted people to deceive themselves by making their advantages an excuse to look down on others. The narcissistically enraged Americans found in Trump a perfect leader: he confirmed their sense of inferiority and promised them a total recovery.  Moreover, there was no ready leader on the other side to pull them from their despair and show them the actual strength of their country.
A theory of the human subject (the individual) acknowledges that everything in ‘man’s’ life always has two meanings: one obvious (conscious) and one hidden (unconscious). The unconscious one seeks a meaning and could become very vulnerable to self deception because of that need. In  crisis situations the leader with the exaggerated views of things and is able to -himself- to block critical judgment wins (Ghadaffy, Hitler, Trump). Therefore, if we put Trump in the context of the circumstances of his election we will see that what is important for us as psychoanalysts is not to give him a diagnosis but reach a proper diagnosis of the historical moment that gave him (his psychopathology) the power to win an election. We all have characters as we are our character. But some have orderly characters and some have character disorders.  


Saturday, 3 June 2017



Toward a Psychoanalytic Theory of the Subject
…………………..................

3.The Subject and his Counterpart:

Discovering the duality of the subject was a breakthrough, because it became obvious and an accepted fact that the subject is not an ontological entity, but a fusion of what we could notice of him and something else that is only ‘indirectly’ assumed to be there. The subject embodies an active counterpart that it is unconscious to him, but displays its presence to the “other”, but only partially concealed and partially unfathomable. Thus, duality was a great leap in our view of the human subject but did not offer something of theoretical value, because it was understandable. Two things needed to be explored: are the dual components linked or they exist independent of each other? Whatever the answer is it is till of great importance to know how they coexist in the same subject.
The contribution of German idealist metaphysics advanced the European culture in all its endeavours. Many thinkers joined the philosophers in advancing the modern western civilization as whole, and creating a general movement of enlightenment, which was most evident in France (1730–1800). It spread throughout Europe. It introduced two major enlightening notions to the issue of the subject’s duality, which allowed a shift in the attitude toward that duality. The first enlightenment was that the subject’s reason is his exclusive means of comprehending the world around him, and that it is his alone, although it may have some commonality with the reasoning of others. This means that if we are to understand anything about the dual existence of the subject, we have to find a way to ask him to explain it to us. But how can he deduce what is unconscious from consciousness? How can he transcend the consciousness of the self when the self is partly unconscious?

The second enlightenment was that the causes of events are inherent in the events themselves, and the affairs of the subject contain their explanations. Searching for external effects to explain the manifestation of the subject misleads and produce false explanations and comprehension of the human act. As Foucault underline, (1970) the rules of a game are part of the game itself and are not added to it from another source. Thus, the duality of the subject’s went through a major change in the age of enlightenment: the subject’s duality is longer accepted as a split within the subject with no comprehendible cause or possible natural bridging or potential resolution. It became a concept that stands for a partition that is a constituent of human nature, without which the subject would be an entity without quality, or ate best an entity with two different qualities. Thus, the subject has to have an-other lodged in him for both to be his self. That other is neither hidden, nor under, nor behind, but entwined with his other part. The other in the subject is a double that is neither expressing himself in the common language of communication nor making himself understood by any known means. Although the other is “there,” he does not seem to affect anything around him, and seems to be protected from being affected by external effects either. nevertheless, his presence is impossible to ignore because he is an integral part of everything the subject projects. Because the other was (is) not amenable to reflection, thus it is not material for ordinary thinking; it was denoted as the unconscious, the nominal, and the transcendental. The gap between the subject and his counterpart led to a gradual change in understanding that “Other”. The different philosophers who previously dealt with the counterpart as the Other in the subject named it differently. It was the hidden (Fichte), the subject in himself (Hegel), the alienated subject (Marx), the unconscious will (Schopenhauer), the implicit (Husserl), and the subject of reflection (Bergeson).

Laplanche (1997) said, “Western philosophy, which can be encompassed by the general term ‘philosophy of the subject,’ has always stumbled over the problem of the other. For it, the otherness of the external world has always appeared doubtful, problematic, having to be deduced solely from the evidence of subjectivity… Western culture and its philosophy is the culture of the “subject,” though its apparent interest has been in the subject as an object. The other in it is an object for the subject. However, the subject is an other to himself too (p. 653).
With the subject being a duality and the duality being antithetical nature a new concept- the counterpart- appeared to account for the puzzlement about duality. The counterpart is a concept that better suited the changes introduced by the two propositions of the Enlightenment. The counterpart meant that human duality is not the coexistence of an- other within the subject, but rather the self is a unity of an enwrapped antithesis. The proposition that the subject can rely on his subjective reasoning to learn was instrumental in creating a novel interest in the properties of human reasoning-its soundness, limitations, normalcy, and abnormality-and inadvertently led to curiosity about the function of the counterpart in that reasoning. Psychology was born as an independent science of reason (consciousness), and introspective endeavors moved gradually to the center of the studies in that field (Wundt, 1876). Introspection occupied a formal place in science, a place that had previously been the province of the transcendental ego. However, introspection did not provide any substantial additional insights into the nature of the counterpart. Understanding the counterpart posed a problem: the subject cannot be reached by introspection and the Other does not speak the same language the counterpart speaks.

The second proposition that causes are contained within their effects has changed the strategy of diagnosis in the field of psychopathology. In the beginning, mental disorders were ascribed to external causes such as bad spirits, evil eyes, the devil, or even to unexplainable causes such as God’s will. Pinel (1740–1826) broke the chains of the patients in the Salpêtrière hospital and refused to consider them victims of evil spirits. Hence, psychical disorders were considered diseases, i.e., their causes should be found within the diseases like all other medical conditions. Physicians resorted to treating the neuroses and psychoses as deficiencies or overabundances of certain biophysical elements. The advancements in “scientific” medicine based on research, anatomy, physiology, and some supportive branches put the unconscious firmly in the place of the counterpart. It took a very short time for the enlighten psychiatrists in France to discover hypnotism and reach the unconscious almost by accident; the accident of making a calculated hypothesis that it might be what characterizes the counterpart of the subject. The counterpart was not only unconscious but was the unconscious of that particular patient.

The Counterpart and the Particularity of Psychoanalysis:
Based on several details in the evolution of the concept of the counterpart I mean by the exitance of counterpart the emergence of antithetical poles from any of the attributes that constitute an evolving state in the human subject [I intend to revisit this idea later to shoe its validity from the analysts’ clinical work. The counterpart is an operational duality that allows the exploration of the issue at hand, as is the case of the mental function and its duality of conscious/unconscious. I want to highlight and underline something extremely Freudian in Freud’s discovery of psychoanalysis:  did not, create a polarity of two attributes of different qualitative origins in any of his works for the duration of continued modifications of his theory, except for a short time when he suggested a polarity between the ego and the repressed [1920, p. 19], or when he used the conscious, as a certainty to prove the existence of the unconscious which was not yet considered then as a certainty (1915).

By the end of the nineteenth century German Idealistic Metaphysics entered a phase of gradual decline, which led to the birth of the scientific method, both in physics and in the humanities. Freud’s thinking proves that it was a legitimate child of the German idealist metaphysics. His whole text is variations on the theme of duality, in every aspect of his formulations. Ricoeur (1970) said, “A reader familiar with Hegelianism [the philosophy of dialects] cannot but help noticing the constant use of opposition in the structure of Freud’s concepts [which are consistently dichotomous]. It is true that dichotomy is not necessarily a dialectic, and that in each instance the dichotomy has a different sense. But his [Freud’s] style of opposition is intimately involved in the birth of meaning; the dichotomy is already dialectical” (p. 475). The new polarity of the subject and his counterpart revealed a dialectical relationship between the subject’s positivistic status as a subject of study and his tendency to transcend the positivistic case  and undo it. The problem of the counterpart changed from a purely metaphysical problem to a problem that had to be sorted out first within a polarity of physical sciences and human sciences. Capturing the subject in positivist states was a dream of scientists, while facilitating his transcendence of being became a psychoanalytic and ethnological endeavor. Foucault (1970) made an important remark about that polarity when he said, “In relation to the ‘subject of sciences,’ psychoanalysis and ethnology are rather ‘counter-sciences’; which does not mean that they are less ‘rational’ or ‘objective’ than the others, but that they flow in the opposite direction, that they lead them back to their epistemological basis, and they ceaselessly ‘unmake’ that very subject who is creating and re-creating his positivity in the human science” (p. 379). Western culture reached an impasse in regard to the nature of the subject and then in how to understand him. Psychology was promising some serious formulations of the laws behind the subject’s behavior, cognition, and emotions and provided some facts about those aspects. But the counterpart, although there was no denying of its existence, was not amenable to the same methods of psychological study. There was nothing promising on the horizon that could have guided the thinkers to something they might have used to cross the abyss or bridge the gap between the endeavors “metapsychology” because psychologists intended -even then-to go beyond empirical psychology that had to be founded on empirical finding. It is important to bring to attention something that psychoanalysis is suffering from nowadays. Somehow, analysts are treating the counterpart (the unconscious Other) the same way they treat consciousness; i.e. as positivistic entity, and they interpret the primary process as distortions of the secondary process. The unintentional neglect that the counterpart is not repressed consciousness makes them keep seeing, working, formulating psychical phenomena as if the subject is a duality of similar though conflicting psychical entities, while the counterpart forces the issue that psychoanalysis is analysis of a dialectical link between an object-tive and a sub-jective entities.
Another feature in Freud’s thinking-taken from Germain metaphysics is the place he gave to the process of mental representation of whatever is physical, in the mind. This notion is -for the meticulous thinker- the origin of duality in western thinking. The notion that representation creates ideas (see Fichte’s and Schopenhauer’s representations of the unconscious) has become very important in Freud’s classical theory of psychoanalysis (thing presentation and word presentation). In addition to notion of representation, the concept of the Ich as a structure was sometimes considered the antithesis of the subject’s positivistic identity and his transcendental counterpart.
The idea of making the counterpart speak to the subject or even to another in his surroundings was far from being a viable idea. Western culture was waiting for an intuition that would make the counterpart talk and define itself. It was time for a qualitative change in understanding the riddle of the subject. Which of the two scientific approaches was going to give Western culture the intuition that could make the counterpart talk and define itself? Was the answer going to come from the positivistic physical sciences, or was it still going to come from the human interpretative sciences? Einstein once said, “All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge, namely, in axioms, from which deductions are then made…Intuition is the necessary condition for discovery of such axioms” (cited in Calaprice, 2000, p. 287).

It was Freud’s destiny to get the intuition that made the counterpart talk, define itself, and still maintain its dual property as a subject of transcendence and an object of study. What I think is most curious, intriguing, and significant is that his intuition should have come from his work as a physician and psychotherapist buy it came from an unusual interest of his that was unrelated to his work. In other words, Freud was out there to discover a cure for the neurosis, which put him the camp of the nomothetic science of neurology and its medical application. Yet, when it came to him—the physician—from his interest (hobby) in dreams, which were not considered, in any way, a topic in the nomothetic sciences. Freud’s research and practice during the hypnosis period brought him close the splitting of consciousness and the formation of the unconscious source of psychoneuroses, the role of trauma and the notion of arrested affect associated with the repressed. He did not see in all that anything that could lead to a theory of psychoanalysis. But, he uncovered in the area of dreams, parapraxes and jokes a second and quite different language that the counterpart uses to speak in those three phenomena. Freud (1900) wrote of that intuition (in the preface to the third English edition of The Interpretation of Dreams), “Insight such as this falls to one’s lot but once in a lifetime” (p. XXVII).

He was impressed, for a short while, by the splitting of consciousness; he believed that hypnosis revealed that part of consciousness that had been repudiated and caused the pathological condition. However, we notice in his contributions in the Studies on Hysteria (1895b), compared with Breuer’s cases, that he was attentive and sensitive to the patients’ whole stories more than the direct links between the retrieved memories and the symptoms. He was also able to read more in the symptoms than what was manifestly expressed. In the case of Fräulein Elisabeth von R., he commented on one of her symptoms by saying, “I could not help thinking that the patient had done nothing more or less than look for a symbolic expression of her painful thoughts and that she had found it in the intensification of her sufferings” (1895b, p. 152). He even presented a whole case (Katharina) in which he did not use hypnosis to reconstruct the patient’s sexual trauma and relied completely on a brief encounter with her. He mentioned in his presentation of the case history that “[it] is not so much an analysed case of hysteria as a case solved by guessing” (1895, p. 133; italics added).
This step led him to make a very valuable distinction between the manifest and the latent, which replaced the futile cause/effect dichotomy and overcame the limitations of the split of consciousness and the formation of an unconscious content. Freud ignored the significance of the discernment of the manifest/latent connection until he got the intuition that it is the psychoneurosis that does the splitting of consciousness and not the splitting of consciousness that causes the neurosis. In other words, what had been considered the cause of the psychoneuroses was found to be, in fact, its effect. Freud was not in any way prepared, trained, or advised to think about what was to come after the hypnosis stage. But it should be emphasized that the medical preoccupation with the limitations of the transcendence of consciousness-the way consciousness could become sick, its failure to keep the unconscious under control, and the derangement of the mind-led to studying the counterpart in a way quite different from the philosophers’ approach.


Freud realised very early that there no conscious events that does not have an unconscious counterpart. Therefor, psychoanalysis has to be considered not a theory of psychotherapy or psychopathology, but a theory of the human subject who is a formation of antitheses that are responsible for his sickness and health. This is not a different way of saying things; it is saying different things about the subject.