Suddenly Finding it Really Matters: The Paradox of the Analyst's Non-Attachment
Psychological discoveries of a certain kind give rise to a particular sense of shock. When we are forced to look afresh at something whose importance we think we already know, we may find it has new and unexpected significance. Our previous understanding, genuine as it was, comes to seem rather shallow.
Psychoanalysts must be open to such experiences, and I illustrate this with episodes from the history of psychoanalysis and with clinical examples. ‘What really matters about this analysis?’ is a question to which patient and analyst must each seek an answer, and both must allow it to take them by surprise. There is a parallel between the patient's need to give up his established ways of coping and the analyst's need not to cling on to his familiar ways of understanding.
The paradox of non-attachment is that our understanding can only develop if we are not anxious to hold on to it. I relate this clinical observation to the idea of non-attachment as found in spiritual tradition, and I draw on the work of Bion and Matte Blanco to locate these ideas within psychoanalytic theory.
This paper suggests that literature concerning projective identification has excessively focused on the projection of unwanted aspects ofthe self without giving adequate consideration to projective identification involving good qualities. It is proposed that clinical advantages may derive from dividing projective identification into positive and negative components. This division allows a more ready emphasis on the capacity for beneficial object relations which even psychotic individuals retain despite their obvious hostility. Case vignettes are provided to demonstrate positive projective identification and to emphasize the clinical usefulness of this concept.
Gender and Transference: The Screen of the Phallic Mother
Nancy Mann Kulish
The question of how an analyst's gender might affect the transference has currently stirred the interest of psychoanalytic writers. Two questions have been raised in the literature how analyst's gender might determine whether the transference takes a
- 267 -
‘maternal’ or ‘paternal’ cast, and how it might contribute to a highly eroticized transference. In both these questions, the concept of the ‘phallicmother’ has been raised in the explanation of the observed differences. The author critically examines the concept of phallicmother in this context. The concept is reviewed historically to demonstrate how it has reflected changes in psychoanalytic theory. Clinical examples are presented to illustrate how transference can become organized around analyst's gender, how maternal and paternal images in the transference can become confused, and how male patients' erotic fantasies may become inhibited by the female analyst. The fantasy of the phallicmother, which is prominent in the clinical material, is a projection of the patient which can be centred upon the analyst's gender. Phallicmother as a concept can also contribute to gender-related blindspots and countertransferences. It is suggested that such theoretical constructs may become obstructions preventing analysts from perceiving themselves in the opposite-sexed roles within the transference.
4 British Journal of Medical Psychology (1986), Volume 59, Part 3, September 1986
Smoking as a Transitional Object
An analysis of smoking during adolescence using Winnicott's concepts of transitional object, transitional phenomena and intermediate area can illuminate how an individual manages the relations between the outer objective world and the inner world of subjective experience. Viewing smoking as a transitional phenomenon can yield diagnostic and therapeutic information and provide a better understanding of the psychological functions of smoking and the difficulties involved in giving it up.
- 268 -
(1987). Abstracts from other Journals. Brit. J. Psychother, 3(3):267-268