The paper opens with two quotations which are worth mentioning:
Go, go, go, said the bird: humankind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Oh God! May I be alive when I die.
The author provides two examples from her clinical practice: the first one is a situation in which reality is also used to allow the further development of an imaginary relationship and, in a circular manner, one leads to the other. The second one is a situation in which there is little room for the perception of reality. The patient has a tendency to reify the relationship and to block anything that could introduce elements of change. As a matter of fact, he does not want the analyst to function as a living object and tends to keep the relationship with her in a state of petrification. In doing so he has recourse to the same operation, which is peculiar to perverse organization, that he performs with the whole of reality. He fails to recognize it at the very moment he is forced to recognize it.
The author carries on the thesis of a previous paper (“Observations on Perversion,” Rivista di Psicoanalisi, XXXVII, 1991, pp. 866-911), according to which, as far as the object relationship is concerned, the specific defense of a perverse individual consists in partially acknowledging the emergent object's existence, though failing to recognize its individuality and independence. Thanks to the stage of development already reached by the perceptual apparatus, rather than deny reality or split it, the perverse individual attempts to deceive it, remaining poised between recognizing it (with certain modalities and at certain levels), and keeping alive the illusion of being able to subordinate it to his or her needs.
Moving from this paradoxical analytic experience that has reached the limit of practicability, Micati makes some observations and poses some questions. She underlines a radical change which has taken place in our way of thinking about and experiencing the analytic situation: attention has gradually moved from the patient
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to the analytic pair. This change implies that it is not the patient who is solely responsible at the outset, but that it is the analytic pair who share responsibility for one of the many possible successions of events which are initiated. The analyst's availability is limited by his or her fears, anxieties, conflicts, by areas of personality that are still (and might always be) blind and obtuse.
Micata concludes by stating that it would be surprising if anybody nowadays were to continue thinking that the analyst's personality is not a significant variable in analysis. Whatever analytic operation the analyst performs, in reacting to the patient's requirements and during their common activity, the analyst changes as well. Micati's final answer to the question, “How much reality can we bear?,” is that we cannot delude ourselves that we are capable of bearing too much reality. There may be a moment when the analytic pair feel they can come to a halt and ought not go further than their limit.
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Meregnani, A. and Ferro, A. (1995). Rivista di Psicoanalisi. XXXIX, 1993.. Psychoanal. Q., 64:633-634