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Sandor-Buthaud, M. (2002). Nymphea: The concrete and the symbolic. An introduction. J. Anal. Psychol., 47(4):537-538.

(2002). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 47(4):537-538

Nymphea: The concrete and the symbolic. An introduction

Martine Sandor-Buthaud

These papers originated in the meeting of the Anglo-French-Belgian group in Rye, Sussex, in the summer of 1999. This is an open group consisting of analysts from the three countries concerned who meet once a year to discuss a pre-arranged topic. Proceedings are conducted in French and English.

The French participants planned a collective presentation for that year's meeting, and in order to prepare for it some of them met several times during the year. The theme of the meeting was to be the dynamic between the concrete and the symbolic. François Martin-Vallas presented a case in which the question of the relation to the concrete and the possibility of linking the concrete and the symbolic were very much present for him. We decided to work together on that theme: François would present the case and would take up some of the questions that arose in relation to it.

At our last meeting of the year, we realized that there were disagreements among us on the way to approach the question of the symbolic and the dynamic between the symbolic and the concrete, and how to handle those issues in our therapeutic work. Yet, remarkably, even though we disagreed, we were still able to talk to one another, to exchange ideas and to communicate. We then thought it would be interesting if several of us offered a comment on what François's case study evoked for each of us, on the issue of the dynamic between the concrete and the symbolic. We thought that presenting in this way the different points of view that arose in our French group would provide a good basis for our discussion at the meeting.

For myself, I was not representing one point of view rather than another; I tried to present our work as a group, and to pinpoint some of the questions that our discussions had defined. Of course the way I heard and formulated those questions expresses nevertheless something of my personal position concerning the analytical work and the dynamic between the concrete and the symbolic.

One of the issues that emerged in our last meeting as a French group was the question of the kind of relationship the analyst has with the symbolic and with the dynamic of the symbol, and the way he uses that dynamic in his work. That question was raised by Martine Gallard in relation to François's work with Nymphea.

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