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Crastnopol, M. (2011). The Organismic Otherness of Being. Psychoanal. Perspect., 8(2):133-152.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 8(2):133-152


The Organismic Otherness of Being

Margaret Crastnopol, Ph.D.

In this paper i explore the proposition that much of our functioning as a “self” occurs enigmatically in a way that cannot be seen or known directly, at the biophysiologic, organismic level of our existence. As a consequence, uncrystallized aspects of our being, evoked “seductively” (as Jean Laplanche might put it) by circumstance, can well up and carry us away from our customary sense of self. We may then be both overtaken and taken aback by this black box of self-experience. The effect is sometimes constructive and at other times what I call “microtraumatic.” I offer the following instance as a starting point for discussing our organismic “otherness.”

Case Vignette

It began as a low rumble, disrupting the flow of words from Peter's mouth. Listeners in the audience couldn't be quite sure they'd heard it. Soon it happened again—sounding this time like a cough, then an abrupt deepening of voice, and finally an evident moan. Those present wondered what in the world was happening. But no one was more surprised than the man himself.

Peter was addressing an assemblage of high school math and science students and their families, who had gathered to witness the awarding of a first-class prize to his son for a physics project.

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