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Davies, J.M. (1996). Linking the “Pre-Analytic” with the Postclassical: INTEGRATION, DISSOCIATION, AND THE MULTIPLICITY OF UNCONSCIOUS PROCESS. Contemp. Psychoanal., 32:553-576.
(1996). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 32:553-576
Linking the “Pre-Analytic” with the Postclassical: INTEGRATION, DISSOCIATION, AND THE MULTIPLICITY OF UNCONSCIOUS PROCESS
Jody Messler Davies
IN HIS ESSAY “TO HEAR WITH EYES” (1971), Masud Khan describes an initial session with a new patient.
She had told her story in a dignified and reticent manner. . . . As I looked at her and listened to her I had the same impression as one does looking at a phased image on the television screen: there were two distinct persons superimposed upon each other, but it was very hard to sort out who was what. (p. 236)
Clearly, vividly, Khan describes to the reader an experience of his patient: two personae, separate and unintegrated, coming together, moving apart, phasing in and out of focus, an image on a television screen, its boundaries blurred, coming back into focus—then blurring once again. In this compelling vignette, Khan presaged what has become one of the more controversial and hotly debated questions in contemporary psychoanalytic theory. What is the nature of self and of the mental structures intrinsic to self-experience? Is self integrated, singular, internally coherent, structured linearly upon the accruing bedrock of phase-specific developmental crises? Do adequate repressive defenses against disruptive unconscious wishes leave an unfettered consciousness, the clearly centered master of internal life? Or, as a steadily growing chorus of dissenting voices has suggested (Bromberg, 1993, 1994; Davies, 1994, 1996a, 1996b; Mitchell, 1993; Pizer, 1996; Rivera, 1989) is the very notion of an integrated internal world a necessary illusion, a metaphoric, functional conduit, providing safe passage across more intrinsically discordant aspects of internalized but essentially irreconcilable aspects of self-other experience?