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Rodhe, K. (2013). The Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review. Psychoanal Q., 82(4):1049-1066.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review

(2013). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 82(4):1049-1066

Abstracts

The Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review

Karin Rodhe

Volume 32, Number 1 — 2009

Mother-Infant Work and Its Impact on Psychoanalysis with Adults. By Björn Salomonsson, pp. 3-13.

Drawing on his work with mother-infant psychoanalytic treatment, the author reflects on the ways in which these experiences have influenced his work with older patients. Babies flood the analyst with nonverbal expressions of their feeling states. In working with a mother who is soothing her baby, the analyst can observe container-contained interactions from another perspective than that utilized in a classical psychoanalytic setting.

Work with a two-week-old boy and his mother is presented as an example, as well as the treatment of a 35-year-old woman. The baby-mother work inspired the adult analysis, the quality of which gradually shifted from “battlefield” to “playground.”

Freud's Philosophical Path: From a Science of Mind to a Philosophy of Human Being. By Alfred I. Tauber, pp. 32-43.

Despite his early interest, Freud explicitly rejected philosophy because of its allegedly speculative character. He struggled to balance the intellectual appeal of philosophy with the certainty he hoped to find in positivist science.

Putting aside the scientific status of Freud's work, the author reexamines Freud's attitude toward philosophy. In failing to recognize the assumptions made in his investigations, Freud separated psychoanalysis


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from philosophy on the charge that philosophers equate mind with consciousness, put forth putatively unfounded speculations, and assume false conclusions about the comprehensiveness of their tenets.

However, as Tauber points out, Freud never completely abandoned his initial philosophical proclivities. His contributions to cultural history, social philosophy, notions of personal identity, and the humanistic thrust of psychoanalysis demonstrate that he continued to follow his initial interest in philosophical questions.

The author concludes that a reconsideration of Freud's self-appraisal of his own intellectual commitments is warranted.

On the Art of Loving What Is Written: Review of Om konsten att älska skriften, by Mikael Enckell (2009). By Berit Bergström, pp. 71-73.

In his latest book, Enckell, a Finnish writer and psychoanalyst, returns to the theme of psychoanalysis and its roots in Judaism and the importance of the written word. The book is composed of four essays about women for whom these themes are pertinent, followed by two concluding chapters. Enckell relates the lives of these women—George Eliot, Helen Enehjelm (an American who married a Finnish man and moved to Finland), Heidi Enckell (mother of the author), and Irene Némirovsky—to Jewish experience. Like the Jewish people, these women were socially marginalized, and the author reflects on how this experience creates space for the most essential questions.

The last two chapters contain passages on Jewish theology, literature, and psychoanalysis and on their common ground: all deal with the hidden meaning of human experience.

Affect Regulation in Extreme Traumatization—Fragmented Narratives of Holocaust Survivors Hospitalized in Psychiatric Institutions. By Suzanne Kaplan and Dori Laub, pp. 93-104.

Twenty-six videotaped interviews with chronically hospitalized Holocaust survivors are examined in this paper. Laub and her assistants conducted the interviews in Israel in 2002 and 2003, after which transcripts


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were sent to Kaplan for analysis. Numerous excerpts from the interviews are included in the article.

Using the affect-propeller model that she has presented in earlier work,1 Kaplan describes two trauma-related phenomena: affect imploding and affect encasement. These mechanisms were shown to be much more common in hospitalized Holocaust survivors than in nonhospitalized ones.

The Conflicting Forces of Freud's Clinical Situation: Looking at the Evolving Method in the Case of the Rat Man. By Rolf Kunstlicher, pp. 116-124.

A critical scrutiny of Freud's treatment of the Rat Man elucidates implications of the built-in contradictions found in Freud's work as the psychoanalytic method evolved. By comparing the published case of the Rat Man with Freud's private notes, the author highlights two different perspectives. He notes that—in molding a clinical situation that would confirm his theories—Freud became partially blind to irrational distortions in his perception of the interaction between the patient and himself. Contradictory “theories,” both explicit and unconscious, and the emergence of a more modern understanding of transference are expounded.

The Analyst's Desire in the Era of Intersubjectivity. By Maria Fitger, pp. 134-140

Growing discourse on the concept of intersubjectivity in modern psychoanalysis has pushed interest in the intrapsychic and its emphasis on drive and object into the background. Authors who wish to avoid a one-sided focus on intersubjectivity usually subscribe to a dual-dimensional approach, taking both perspectives into account.

In this article, the analytic situation is described not in two but in three dimensions—the analytic function constituting a third dimension necessary for the interplay between the other two dimensions. Focusing on the analyst's position, the author presents a model that consists of (1) the analyst-as-subject, (2) the analyst-as-function, and (3) the analyst-as-object.

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The analytic function is understood to be invested with a particular form of desire; it is argued that the asymmetry between this desire of the analyst and the desire of the analysand is a central characteristic of the analytic situation.

Volume 33, Number 1 — 2010

On the Dialectics of Psychoanalysis and Its Potential for Aliveness. By Marketta Tuominen, pp. 23-31.

We become alive by accepting death. This idea, beautifully expressed in a Native American myth cited by the author, is the starting point for an exploration of the relationship between the capacity to accept paradoxes and the opening up of a potential space for creativity.

Tuominen takes up the concept of dialectical edge,2 which describes moments when something new is experienced and accepted in the analytic consulting room. Utilizing two clinical examples (an adult woman and a nine-year old boy), the author illustrates how these moments can come about, noting that they require courage and sensitivity on the part of both participants.

Infantile Sexuality: The Concept, Its History and Place in Contemporary Psychoanalysis. By Judy Gammelgaard and Katrine Zeuthen, pp. 3-12.

This article's content is aptly described by its title. Starting with Freud's foundational work,3 the authors review subsequent discussions on infantile sexuality, paying special attention to Michael Balint's concept of primary love and John Bowlby's attachment theory, since then represented by the work of several other authors.4

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4 See, for example: (1) Fonagy, P. & Target, M. (1997). Attachment and reflective function: their role in self-organization. Devel. & Psychopath., 9:677-699; and (2) Holmes, J. (2001). In Search of the Secure Base. London: Routledge.


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Gammelgaard and Zeuthen find problematic the present attempt to integrate a theory of sexuality into a mentalization model. As an alternative, they offer a formulation based on their reading of Laplanche, Widlöcher, and Botella:

We conclude that the infantile sexual moment is created at a somatically determined point of time through the child's attempt to decipher the impressions that signify sexual themes and therefore excite the child …. What is not organized in this way to some extent submerges into the unconscious … as the internal core of unconscious fantasies. [p. 11]

Two clinical examples are presented.

The Epistemological Status of the Case History and the Play-Character of Clinical Psychoanalysis: Two Doctoral Dissertations. By Johan Eriksson, pp. 40-46.

Two recent dissertations are reviewed: “Close to the Particular: The Constitution of Knowledge from Case Histories in Psychoanalysis” (2009), by Torberg Foss of Oslo, and “The Clinical Situation as a Play Situation” (2010), by Rolf Kunstlicher of Stockholm.

Foss discusses how the psychoanalytic case study can generate knowledge beyond the particular event—by fostering a way of seeing, illuminating instead of illustrating. This way of seeing requires the “researcher” to have a special attitude incorporating presence and openness, directed both inward and toward the external world. Such an attitude can lend form to previously incomprehensible material. The theory it generates is always tentative and functions as an instrument and a sounding board for further analytic listening. “Only here, in the expansion of the ability to see and understand, lies the general epistemological value of psychoanalytic theory” (p. 43), according to Foss.

Kunstlicher takes as his starting point a paradox inherent in the psychoanalytic situation: namely, that by trying to stay “neutral,” the analyst is drawn into an emotional field charged with affects. Maintaining the frame becomes crucial in order for different levels of significance to intersect. Here Kunstlicher sees parallels with the play situation in


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producing an as-if quality. Inevitably, this quality breaks down when repetition compulsion takes over; therefore, he describes the psychoanalytic process as an oscillating motion between play and repetition. The role of the analyst is above all to be the guardian of the frame, so that the play situation can be restored again and again.

Volume 33, Number 2 — 2010

Expulsion from the Garden of Eden: The Pain of Growing Wiser. By Gudrun Bodin, pp. 96-105.

This paper uses the biblical story of expulsion from the Garden of Eden as a metaphor for the depressive position, wherein integration, development, and maturation take place, and the confluence of hatred and love toward the object gives rise to sadness and guilt feelings. In this story, Adam and Eve took an important developmental step by eating fruit from the tree of knowledge, learning to distinguish between good and evil, but ultimately they were banished from the Garden. They had set foot on a bridge between the internal and external worlds, where there is constant movement; they had approached seeing the Other as different and had progressed toward developing a sense of reality. The myth shows how painful such maturation can be.

Bodin connects these ideas to a clinical example: the analysis of a severely traumatized girl, “J,” conducted when the patient was between ten and fourteen years of age. Both J's parents were alcoholics; she had never known her father and her mother died when she was seven years old, after which she was placed in foster care. She had withdrawn from the world and was in hospital when analysis started. The analyst was able to connect to her by verbalizing what she thought J was experiencing.

J started building hiding places in the consulting room and became more and more resentful of the analyst's words, using the analyst as a “toilet-breast.” Separations for vacations were unbearable and first had to be denied, after which they were experienced only briefly or indirectly: J sang songs that expressed longing (“Tell Me That You Miss Me”), denying that these were her feelings.


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The author discusses how impossible it was for J to accept the analyst as an other, as someone separate—to enter the depressive position, to leave the Garden of Eden.

Developmental Illusion in an Analysand with Difficulties in Revisualization. By Helge Sletvold, pp. 122-129.

This paper describes the analysis of a woman with difficulties in creating and sustaining mental images of persons, especially of those affectively close to her. Neuropsychological and psychoanalytic aspects of this problem of visualization are considered, and an attempt is made to understand the patient's problem in light of her history of early deprivation and repeated separations from attachment figures. She had been cared for alternatively by her maternal and paternal grandparents, and finally by an abusive mother and an uncaring stepfather.

The analysand made it a personal project to explicitly recall places and situations from her childhood. At a certain point in the analysis, she was able to visualize parts of the analyst's body—“as if I use your body,” she said.

Important phases in the analytic process—distinct both from transference and from reality—are discussed using the concepts of new beginning, developmental object, and developmental illusion. The latter, coined by Riitta Tähkä, is juxtaposed with neurobiological facts of development and change, as well as with constraints to change; it remained the hypothetical curative factor in this analysis.

Freud and Philosophy. By Johan Eriksson, pp. 142-148.

In this essay, the author reviews Tauber's Freud, the Reluctant Philosopher.5 Eriksson finds the book “rich, interesting, and engaged” (p. 143), and summarizes its main argument that Freud's oeuvre should be understood as a movement “from a postulated science of the mind to a

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5 Tauber, A. I. (2010). Freud, the Reluctant Philosopher. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.


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humanist inquiry of the soul,” and “primarily as an ethical project” (p. 143).

While agreeing with the basic assumption of seeing psychoanalysis as an ethical project, Eriksson nevertheless takes issue with a number of points. He questions Tauber's description of Freud's use of the concept of drives as a biological one; according to Eriksson, it must be seen as a “dynamic force within the psyche” (p. 144) that is not the same as instinct.

Another disagreement concerns what Eriksson sees as Tauber's false presentation of a sharp boundary between Freud, the scientist, and Freud, the clinical scientist. Eriksson defends analysis as “a science of subjectivity” (p. 145); he quotes Ricoeur's formulation that Freud discovered that “our mental life includes psychological and motivational layers that are not non-subjective but rather de-subjectivized” (p. 146).

Finally, Eriksson criticizes Tauber for stressing the rational side of analysis as “an exercise of reason over nature …. Nothing, in my opinion, could be more wrong as an interpretation of Freud” (p. 147). Instead, analysis is better described as “a constant dialogue and mutual influence between the conscious system and the unconscious” (p. 147), in Eriksson's view.

Freud's Defense of Reason: Response to Johan Eriksson's “Freud and Philosophy.” By Alfred I. Tauber, pp. 151-157.

Tauber begins his response to Eriksson by confirming their basic agreement about the ethical commitment of psychoanalysis. He then defines his own interest as a philosopher in Freud as primarily a humanist, believing in the power of reason, and neither as a scientist nor a therapist. He takes up three points about which he and Eriksson disagree: (1) the question of science; (2) the paradox of free will; and (3) the place of reason.

Tauber understands Freud's claim that psychoanalysis is a science as belonging to the 19th-century positivist culture, which is not relevant today; for Tauber, this point is not really fundamental for an appreciation of Freud. Therefore, whether or not analysis can be considered a


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science today—which Tauber doubts or even denies, questioning Eriksson's description of “a science of subjectivity”—is not the main concern.

According to Tauber, Freud embraced two apparently conflicting metaphysical positions: a determinist one and a humanist one, believing as he did in free will. Tauber describes this as an unresolved paradox, one that he accepts as fact.

Tauber cites Freud's famous words about the voice of the intellect that is soft but does not rest, and notes that in this Freud follows Kant. Only through reason can we hope to gain freedom, but this requires an active response to life's challenges. Tauber is skeptical of Eriksson's formulation of a dialogue between the conscious and the unconscious: “The id speaks, but does it listen?” (p. 156).

Tauber concludes by saying:

Perhaps that is [Freud's] greatest contribution, for having recognized the power of unreasoned unconscious and the weakness of the ego to direct the powers of the Id, he re-fashioned a humanist program … by asserting the standing of reasoned analysis as a moral imperative. [p. 156]

Volume 34, Number 1 — 2011

On the Capacity to Endure Psychic Pain. By Robbert S. G. Wille, pp. 23-30.

In this article, Wille tackles difficult questions about psychic pain: what is it, where does it originate, how is it endured, what is the difference between experiencing and suffering pain?

Wille starts with a memory from his own youth when he was shocked at a clinical supervisor who recommended deeper interpretations that implied taking a deliberate risk of provoking a breakdown in the patient. Reflecting on this memory, the author recalls Winnicott's thoughts about fear of breakdown and relates this fear to that of psychic pain.6 To avoid breakdown and pain, patients use strong defenses that present great

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technical challenges in analytic work when there seems to be no other way for change to come about than through the experience of pain.

In trying to define psychic pain, Wille discusses similarities and differences with somatic pain. Many authors note the connection between psychic pain and object loss. The concept is used in a broader sense as well as a more restricted one; the broader refers to various unpleasant affects, while the restricted one has an existential connotation involving a threat to the coherence of the self.

Wille traces the ability to endure psychic pain to the earliest phases in human life, when the somatic and psychic are not yet differentiated. He gives as an example the mother who soothes her child while it is still in the womb when overly strong stimuli create a disturbance. This sets the pattern for how the mother can share her child's pain, later on by helping it to recognize and verbalize what is happening, giving the pain back in more tolerable form.

As analysts, we sometimes seem to inflict pain; our first goal is to increase and enrich the range of emotional experience rather than to achieve relief of pain. We accept the fact that psychic pain is part of our existence.

Wille's article ends with a powerful clinical example in which a patient puts enormous pressure on the author to help her avoid feeling pain, accusing him of being sadistic and cruel and expressing murderous rage. The author is able to stand firm at the same time that he doubts himself. Later the patient is able to say that there is no other way but to go through the pain. “Patient and analyst alike must learn to endure psychic pain. The analyst must in addition learn to inflict pain lovingly” (p. 30), Wille concludes.

An Interview Study with a Finnish War Child. By Barbara Mattsson and Sinikka Maliniemi-Piispanen, pp. 31-40.

During the Second World War, about 80,000 children were evacuated from Finland, mostly to Sweden. Many later returned, but a substantial number stayed. In 2007, the coauthors of this article interviewed ten


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people who remained in Sweden about their childhood memories; one interview is presented as a case study.

The interviews were unstructured, and for their analyses, “grounded theory” was used—meaning an attempt to review the material in retrospect to identify common themes. Mattsson and Maliniemi-Piispanen found traumatic reactions that included feelings of emptiness, rage, and conflict related to having had two sets of parents.

A model created by Kaplan proved helpful in understanding the material. This model describes the long-term psychological impact of war on children. Trauma linking refers to the way in which traumatic experiences and affects may reemerge associatively later in life, while generational linking denotes what unites the past with the present.

The subject of the interview discussed in this article, Kirsti, was evacuated from Finland at the age of three. She came from a family of six children in which there was not enough to eat; her father was away as a soldier. She was placed in a childless family, with two of her brothers arriving later but not joining the same family. After the war, Kirsti returned to Finland but stayed only a few months; she refused to eat and was allowed to go back to her adoptive family.

The interview was taped and transcribed so that the authors were able to follow the process closely. They used their countertransference feelings during the interview, noting Kristi's need to be in control and to be the one who knew, as well as the lack of real dialogue between them.

Kristi's narrative is a mixture of memories with small details (trauma linking) and later constructions (taking control, being the one who knows). In describing her experiences, she often lapsed into the present tense (timelessness) and somatic expressions (coughing and stammering). But she also sustained good memories (generational linking). The interview naturally stirred up powerful feelings, some of which Kirsti could reflect on, but she also denied and projected her feelings onto the interviewer, who reports having had the sense of holding her breath and of being controlled.

This report is part of an ongoing research project to better understand the psychological impact of forced evacuation during childhood.


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Grappling with die letzte Dinge: The Persistent Interest of Psychoanalysis in Religious Experience. By Torberg Foss, pp. 41-49.

In this article, Foss brings together psychoanalytic and philosophical thinking (mainly in the Wittgenstein tradition) on the topic of religious experience. In a way that also characterized his 2009 dissertation,7 he discusses the work of many different thinkers and relates it to literary examples.

One example is a short novel by Flannery O'Connor, an author from the Protestant Bible Belt in the Southern United States, called The Artificial Nigger. In this novel, a boy and his grandfather betray each other but, through something that O'Connor calls grace, they find their way back to each other. How this happens can only be shown, not explained.

Foss compares Freud's and Jung's differing attitudes to religious experience and argues—with O'Connor—that Freud can be more helpful than Jung in understanding and meeting religious patients. He discusses paradoxes in Freud's writings: a stern reductionism, on one hand (religion “is nothing but …”), and a fascination and respect for religion as something that goes deep in people, on the other.

Among others, Foss takes up the example of Françoise Dolto, who has written about the importance of her Christian faith in working as an analyst. This leads to a discussion about the relationship between faith and analysis; it is not only that psychoanalysis analyzes faith—explains it, so to speak, by reducing it to something else—but also that faith can cast light on analytic theory.

Other authors whom Foss takes up are Klauber, Rycroft, and Meissner. He discusses their thinking both respectfully and critically. At the end, he cautions: “This is difficult ground where we should tread carefully” (p. 47).

Volume 34, Number 2 — 2011

Crippled Feet: Sadism in Lars von Trier's Antichrist. By Siri Erika Gullestad, pp. 79-84.

Siri Gullestad, professor of psychology in Oslo, discusses Trier's film Antichrist. In contrast to many reviewers of the film who have seen it

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7 See “The Epistemological Status of the Case History and the Play-Character of Clinical Psychoanalysis: Two Doctoral Dissertations,” abstracted on pp. 1053-1054.


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as provocatively antifeminist, Gullestad tries to understand the feelings and actions of the woman in the story. The film relates the interaction between the parents of a child who fell from a window and died; this occurred when the parents were making love and did not notice what was happening.

The mother is first taken to a hospital and medicated, being diagnosed as deeply depressed. Her husband, a therapist, then takes her to a cabin called Eden where he tries to cure her through the exposure and correction of irrational thoughts.

The wife exhibits two kinds of sadistic actions. First, she reacts with violent rage when her husband/therapist tries to correct her without any understanding or acknowledgment of her inner world. Since she is not able to represent her feelings, she acts them out: that is, she ties her husband to a metaphorical grindstone so that he is unable to leave her—this after she has castrated him.

The second sadistic action is less openly violent; Gullestad calls it more silent and cold. The wife had repeatedly put the right shoe on the left foot of the boy who died and vice versa, thereby crippling him, making him unable to move away from her. When confronted with this, she shrugs and dismisses her repeated action as a slip of the mind.

Both these actions are carried out to prevent her husband and child from leaving her, since the wife experiences other people's otherness as abandonment. Here Gullestad draws a parallel with Ibsen's play Little Eylof, in which a boy dies while his parents are having intercourse because they are not willing to let him come between them, thus not allowing a third.

Gullestad discusses the film as a mythological narrative: the man and the woman have no names, and the location of their confrontation is called “Eden.”

The Absent Father in the Transference: A Case Study of Primary Identification and Psychic Survival. By Simo Salonen, pp. 85-94.

As the title indicates, this article consists of a case study and the reflections it triggered in the author. The analytic process described covers two periods: one an intensive analysis of five years starting thirty years


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ago, and a second one fifteen years later, stimulated by the patient's painful life changes. The second period lasted for another five years and involved once- or twice-weekly sessions.

The patient, Martin, a teacher of around forty who was married and had three children, sought help because of a recent conflict with his boss, a father figure. Martin felt his mind was fragmenting. He also had hypochondriacal sensations in his genital area.

Martin was a fatherless boy; he and his father never even knew of each other's existence, the mother not having told either about the other. As an adult, Martin came to know who his father was but did not dare to contact him. He spent his first year of life in a children's home and was later moved to live with his maternal grandmother. His mother, who lived and worked in a nearby town, visited him on weekends. At ten, Martin moved in with his mother and her sister.

The author relates the drama of the first years of Martin's analysis; during the first summer break, he regressed but also learned how to swim. He spent time in a psychiatric hospital and could not work for two years. During the second summer break, the patient contacted his father for the first time, which aroused catastrophic feelings and a return to his mother—which in turn activated fears of the primal scene, of “meeting his father at the very concrete site of his parents' love life” (p. 87).

Martin regressed again, losing weight and neglecting his hygiene. Gradually, the analytic work made it possible to work this through, and intrapsychic conflicts in the transference could be addressed. Toward the end of the first five years of the analysis, Martin was ready to actually meet his father—“to see my father's eyes,” which made him finally feel “my body as my own” (p. 90).

When Martin again contacted his analyst fifteen years later, his wife had left him and he had retired. He blamed analysis for his failures and wanted retribution. The analyst/author states that he himself had to work through his own doubts about their work before he was able to interpret and finally to reach a resolution, in which Martin discovered his own significance as a father and grandfather.

The article ends with the author's comments relating his work to ideas about primary identification, in which he cites Freud, Green, Chasseguet-Smirgel, and Gaddini.


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Phenomena or Data? Qualitative and Quantitative Research Strategies in Psychoanalysis. By Sverre Varvin, pp. 117-123.

Varvin, chair of the Program Committee for the 2013 Prague Congress of the International Psychoanalytical Association, discusses “the relationships between the radical singularity of the elements arising out of clinical practice and the necessary universalities of theory,” or, phrased differently, “how to articulate the individual—the only thing that exists— and generality—the only place where science exists” (p. 117). Varvin sees psychoanalysis as the science of the unconscious.

After comparing quantitative and qualitative research, Varvin concludes that the qualitative method is the most appropriate approach for psychoanalytic research. The main content of his article is a description of this method and a discussion of some of the problems encountered.

In qualitative research, the unit of analysis is usually a text—for example, a written case study. The text is a construction whose aim is to convey a structure of meaning to the reader, and in this lies a moment of seduction. But the reader must “be able to cast off the seductive spell and … view results from other perspectives” (p. 120). In a case history, there has to be an “empirical minimum” (p. 121) in the form of dialogue sequences to enable the reader to achieve sufficient distance to consider alternative interpretations.

Varvin agrees with the view that both a natural science approach and a hermeneutic one are relevant to psychoanalytic research; the causal factors of psychoanalytic principles are recognized at the same time that psychoanalysis is viewed as a meaning-interpreting activity. This causality, however, is not straightforward, not linear, and Varvin quotes Stiles's discussion of chaos theory as a metaphor for describing it.

The article concludes by describing the results of qualitative research as “not hard facts, but tentative formulations of patterns and phenomena seen in contexts that may inform the clinician and help us see patients in their singularity” (p. 122).

Volume 35, Number 1 — 2012

At the Crossroads of Psychoanalysis and Neuroscience. By Johannes Lehtonen, pp. 9-20.

As both a neuroscientist and a psychoanalyst, the author examines the connection between the two fields, giving special consideration to


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the ways in which neurobiological findings can both corroborate and inform clinical practice. Historically, Lehtonen mentions three important findings: first, the research by Solms showing that dream imagery depends on cortical activity in medial prefrontal and parietal areas, and not, as earlier thought, on brain stem nuclei—thus confirming analytic thinking about dreams as a psychologically meaningful activity.

Second, the author cites Kandel's Nobel Prize-winning findings about how learning that leads to permanent memory activates neuronal DNA. From this has come further research concerning the interplay in development between genes and the environment (epigenetics)—research that has ultimately pushed aside any contradiction between psychoanalysis and the biological basis of neuroscience.

Third, Lehtonen emphasizes the importance of the fact that affects and mental images have found their way into the neurosciences. Scientists such as Damasio, Ledoux, and Panksepp have paved the way to a view of private mental reality as a valid area of study, seeing affects and mental images as important from a biological perspective. Lehtonen concludes: “Such an intermediate function of mental images between incoming sensory messages and outgoing motor commands is by and large similar in psychoanalysis and modern affective neuroscience” (p. 11).

The author then goes on to discuss a critique of neuropsychoanalysis by Blass and Carmeli,8 in which it is maintained that neuroscience cannot pursue the unknown reality behind sensation due to its reliance on sensory information. Lehtonen takes issue with this by pointing out that the aim of research is always the pursuit of the unknown. The objection that there is a difference between the unknown of the unconscious and the unknown of natural sciences is rejected by Lehtonen—and here he quotes Freud's statement that psychology is established “upon foundations similar to those of any other science.”9

The relationship between neuroscience and psychoanalysis is described by Lehtonen as an “exchange between two autonomous fields that requires understanding of the language of both parties” (p. 14).

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The author discusses the impact that neuroscientific research can have on clinical practice; one example is data about the mirroring neural systems of the brain, which can help explain how the analysand's nonverbal signals are transmitted to the therapist. But Lehtonen makes the important comment that mirroring is not the same as empathy; information must be evaluated via the therapist's conscious reflection and used for the benefit of the patient.

Finally, the author stresses findings that confirm the fundamental importance of the clinical relationship: “The clinical autonomy of the therapeutic couple in psychoanalytical and other dynamic therapy settings has a crucial position … in the dialogue” (p. 17) between the two fields. Empirical research and neuroscientific discoveries can influence clinical work only insofar as the therapist “has personally internalized these findings and has found a way to use them” (p. 17).

The Empty Core: Metapsychological Reflections upon the Lost Object, an Ethical Order, and the Inevitable Void at the Center of Our Existence. By Jurgen Reeder, pp. 35-44.

The starting point of this article is Lacan's famous dictum: “The only thing of which one can be guilty is of having given ground relative to one's desire.”10 Reeder states as his unprovable hypothesis that the object of such desire is a void, an empty core—not something that can be reached or deciphered.

Central to Reeder's argument is his discussion of the concept of The Thing (Das Ding) in Freud's and Lacan's texts. He traces Lacan's use of the concept to his reading of Freud, who noted—in speculating about what happens in states of tension in the baby—that there is a gap between the perceptual image and the wished-for memory image, which produces a wishful state. This state of tension can be relieved by hallucination, by movement, or—third and most important—by associations.

Freud proposes that perception consists of two parts: an unalterable and incomprehensible structure (Das Ding), and the attributes of the

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10 Lacan, J. (1960). The Seminar, Book VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959-1960, ed. J.-A. Miller, trans. D. Porter. New York: W. W. Norton, 1992, p. 310.


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object, which can be thought about and understood. This dissection involves a judgment, and in this way the child acquires the capacity to remember, think, imagine, and fantasize.

For Lacan, the concept of Das Ding becomes much more important than it was for Freud; it is the object out there, the object of desire that is lost and can never be refound. It is connected to the idea of symbolic castration, which occurs when the acquisition of language creates a severance from the immediate reality of experience. Das Ding and the lost object are equated, but the former has never really been a presence; rather, it is a void—“that which a world of objects cannot furnish” (p. 39). It is a representation, not a thing.

Reeder then goes on to discuss the difficulty of giving up the idea of a real, primary object. Often, analytic work results in a narrative of origins, a myth that makes ending possible. What is important is that this myth is not known beforehand; it must be created. To Bion's dictum to listen without memory and desire, Reeder adds: “Do not remember theories” (p. 39).

Finally, Reeder embarks on a discussion of the ethical implications of this view and returns to Lacan's dictum. If the object of desire can never be reached, if it is a void, an empty core—what does it mean never to “give ground relative to one's desire”? What is being demanded is actually impossible—and we will always, at some time or other, be forced to do this.

The article concludes as follows: “So, in the end, the maverick ethic that Lacan holds forth seems doomed to fail, sooner or later. Which is no reason to give up on it” (p. 43).


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Article Citation [Who Cited This?]

Rodhe, K. (2013). The Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review. Psychoanal. Q., 82(4):1049-1066

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WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.