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Ogden, T.H. (2008). On: The Comments of Dr Shoham. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 89(6):1220-1220.

(2008). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 89(6):1220-1220

On: The Comments of Dr Shoham

Thomas H. Ogden

Dear Editors,

I am grateful to Dr Shoham for his thoughtful response to my paper. It happened that I was reading Virginia Woolf's (1931) The Waves when I received Dr Shoham's letter and an invitation to reply to it. I find that when I am reading fiction or poetry while at the same time reading or writing an analytic paper (or responding to a letter to the editor), the literature and the analytic writing have a way of entering into conversation with one another. It is impossible to know ahead of time where that conversation will go.

In the portion of The Waves that I was reading, I was particularly taken by a passage in which a character reflects on his own thinking process. For him, thinking is a “process of understanding” (p. 184) that occurs simultaneously with a very different state of mind in which “the fringe of my intelligence floating unattached caught those distant sensations which after a time the mind draws in and works upon; the chimes of bells; general murmurs; vanishing figures; one girl on a bicycle who, as she rode, seemed to lift the corner of a curtain concealing the populous undifferentiated chaos of life which surged behind the outlines of my friends and the willow tree” (p. 184).

Reading this passage (which “draws in” with such ease the “floating unattached” quality of human consciousness), while having in mind Dr Shoham's description of Searles's state of receptivity (‘a truly simple registration of fact’), led me to discover, as if for the first time, the notion of reverie. As is the case with every significant analytic idea, the concept of reverie, if it is to remain fresh and alive with mystery, must be rediscovered again and again in the most unexpected of ways. In this instance, it involved the convergence of the workings of four minds spanning three continents and three-quarters of a century.

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