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Stein, R. (1999). From Holding Receptacle to Interior Space—The Protection and Facilitation of Subjectivity: Commentary on Paper by Joyce Slochower. Psychoanal. Dial., 9(6):811-823.
    

(1999). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 9(6):811-823

From Holding Receptacle to Interior Space—The Protection and Facilitation of Subjectivity: Commentary on Paper by Joyce Slochower Related Papers

Ruth Stein, Ph.D.

IN THE TIMAEUS (LINES 49-52), PLATO DESCRIBES “THE RECEPTACLE OF being” in words that he admits are extraordinarily “difficult and obscure” (p. 69). Having presented a powerful image of human generation as a receptacle of becoming, Plato then undermines it, and in a long-winded process of substitutions, replaces the word “receptacle” with “space” (chora).

Joyce Slochower, in her paper, writes about leaving the patient space to release the patient's own sense of interiority, his self-experience of having a living inside. Slochower is known for her important elaboration of the concept of holding (Slochower, 1996) to denote the analyst's functioning as a receptacle for the patient's unbearable split-off affects. Holding in this sense is like softening the contact with the external object, sparing the patient the need to be aware of and relate to the outer, “objective” shape of the object, which is adaptive, resilient background.

In a move strangely reminiscent of Plato's shift, Slochower goes from writing about holding and serving as a receptacle to focusing on space. “Space … is eternal and indestructible … [it] provides a position for everthing that comes to be, and … is apprehended without the senses by a sort of spurious reasoning and so is hard to believe in—we look at it indeed in a kind of dream,” (p. 69) Plato wrote. The wonderment discernible in Plato's words has to do with the primal, vast, nonverbal nature of these notions.

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