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Allison, L. Palmer, R. (2017). Insights in Psychoanalysis: An Overview. PEP/UCL Top Authors Project, 1(1):21.

(2017). PEP/UCL Top Authors Project, 1(1):21

Insights in Psychoanalysis: An Overview

Produced by:
Liz Allison and Rose Palmer

Insights in Psychoanalysis is a series of films produced by PEP in association with the Psychoanalysis Unit at University College London. In each film an eminent analyst discusses one of their most important and influential papers. Interviewees to date have included Warren S. Poland, Otto F. Kernberg, Stefano Bolognini, Ron Britton, Irma Brenman Pick, Peter Fonagy, Edna O'Shaughnessy, Virginia Ungar and David Bell. This overview film includes excerpts from 29 of the interviews filmed so far.

Warren S. Poland: My working definition of psychoanalysis is that it's the disciplined study of whatever it is people do not want to know about themselves.

Judy Kantrowitz: And the work with patients can teach you things that you didn't learn in your analysis. You've had one analysis with one person, or maybe you've had more. But whatever it is-- but each patient in a way is an opportunity to stretch and grow as long as you keep open to that.

Ron Britton: There's something that Bertrand Russell said about metaphysics, which applies, I think, to metapsychology as well as to metaphysics and those who speculate.

He says, in every metaphysician's mind, there is always an underlying metaphysical theory which is probably unconscious.

Harold P. Blum: Not everyone has the same inborn capacity for integration. Not everyone has the same capacity for making connections. Some patients do it beautifully on their own. For others the analyst has to do it for them. And even then they don't always hold on to the connections.

Lawrence J. Brown: Bion's work addresses both. He addresses how the intra-psychic world of the patient, and the analyst, get activated in the analytic encounter and appear in one way or another, through resistances or reveries or transferences. And that one of the ways they appear is in enactments and other relational aspects.

Giuseppe Civitarese: Sometimes, you are bored. There can be a situation that lasts for a long time, which is full of nothing. Dead, somehow. Not alive.

If something happens, for example, through a reverie, you rediscover that something interesting is going on, that you can see things in a different perspectives. This immediately affects the field, the atmosphere.

Albert Mason: Allow yourself to be without memory, desire, desire to understand, which sounds so difficult, and what's that state of mind. I think that's what he meant by O to be open.

Rudi Vermote: The whole theory is about transference, projective identifications, all about strong emotions and how you deal with it.

And then at once he starts to talk about, let this go, trying to be sober, and not feeling too much, being in a kind of disinterested state so you are open to intuition.

Francis D. Baudry: Education is not something that people are terribly interested in, in an analytic institute, of how it works, of how people learn. And I think that the steps of acquiring professional identity are somewhat similar to the steps of acquiring personal identity.

Otto F. Kernberg: Analysts are experts in individual psychology and psychopathology, the influence of the unconscious on the individual behavior and dyadic interactions. Analysts are usually quite innocent of the influence of their unconscious on group psychology and organizational psychology. They are innocent of knowledge of administrative theory. And so the psychoanalytic effects on the entire institution, is unknown.

Nancy Kulish: I think women's sexuality and women's power is frightening to men. They were little babies and they were under the-- and to little girls too-- they're under the control of the big mother and they need to build their sense of masculinity by separating themselves from it and perhaps putting the sexuality of the woman and the power down.

Mary Target: The aim is a bit like the aim for the good parent, which is to not to run away.

Kerry Kelly Novick and Jack Novick: Once we have a conflict, all of the psychoanalytic tools become relevant, and then we have leverage. Then we have kind of psychoanalytic purchase, therapeutic purchase. And that way then one can work with a patient to the point where they end up with authentic freedom to choose

Rosine Jozef Perelberg: And again how this erotic experience in the relationship with the mother can become a very important threat in the course of the analysis, and how important it is to enable a paternal function to slowly emerge.

Actually, it's a paradigm in British psychoanalysis, isn't it? To emphasize the relationship with the primary object, with the mother, and it is a challenge, I think, for British analysts to identify the emergence of a paternal function.

Salman Akhtar: But we are not only related to human beings, we are also related to physical objects in our life. And immigration is less of an experience of the loss of human relationships.

So that's why I always never take those gifts to my home. All of those gifts are in my office. Little trinkets here and there of different countries. That makes them feel, wow, that?s my home too.

Peter Fonagy: What we are trying to show in our work is that mentalizing is a developmental achievement that's hard won and easily lost. And that one of the reasons that it's lost, is because of conflict.

Joseph D. Lichtenberg: The message contains the message. So I want to get everything I can out of the message as it's given. I'm not looking to see what's not there, primarily. I'm not looking to, say, what's back behind it, hidden by it, or not available to it. I want to say, here's what I can get from what you are telling me.

Stefano Bolognini: The preconscious is an equivalent of the level in the sea, where a person is able to swim, to dive a bit, while unconscious is much deeper. But the central ego and the subject are not able to dive to that point. It could also be dangerous.

Theodore J. Jacobs: So I was interested in it since I had my fair share of countertransference issues. But I noticed in most of the writing that there was done. And even discussions of it, few as they were, were about sort of very obvious forms of countertransference. I was interested in the more subtle and the less obvious, and ones that were more easily overlooked.

Irma Brenman Pick: I think there must be also something about the experience of being a mother, and actually knowing that at 2 o'clock in the morning you have this wish to throw your baby out of the window. And that is how it is when they go on screaming and you want to sleep. And that that seems a real experience that needs to be thought about and gone through. And then your more loving feelings can resurface. But that that is something that is in you. We're not ideal mothers. And we're not ideal analysts.

Frank M. Lachmann: And what people do in order to construct for themselves a world in which they feel relatively safe and the sacrifices they make in order to feel that way. And I think that's a much better way of looking at actions that look perverted, pathological, and so on, than simply labeling them as being unhealthy.

Virginia Ungar: Infant observation is a very good practice. I think that for everybody.

I think that we are all born with an immense capacity to observe, but we lose it. But this experience on infant observation allows you to recover and to enhance your capacity to observe what's happening in the field, but mainly to observe what's going on inside you.

David Tuckett: So what free association is is would you mind trying to tell me what's in your mind. And the secret, or the implicit message, is whatever you do tell me is significant.

Jonathan Lear: You know on the one hand the mind wants to range freely and let thought, let my mind, go wherever my thinking takes me. And then it turns out to be a discovery that there's also a countervailing force in the mind that doesn't want me to go freely, doesn't want it to go.

David Taylor: But any truly therapeutic activity-- is the willingness to look at the truth.

And for that you have to be able to acknowledge where you do think you know something, and where truly you don't.

Frank Yeomans: Our CBT colleagues look at what we've done and say, that's not a manual. It doesn't really tell the therapist what to do in this session or that session. And our more pure analytic colleagues say, that's awful. That's a manual. You're too controlling. You're not letting the process unfold.

Andrew J. Gerber: Psychoanalysis is for me what you can't measure. Now I respect that. I understand that interest. And it's a perfectly self-consistent and honest way to define one's field. That's not my field of psychoanalysis. And if the Oxford English Dictionary decides he's right and that's the definition of psychoanalysis, he can have it. I'll call what I do something else.

David Bell: Claiming to know something is curiously a modest claim. Because once you claim to know it, you may turn out to be wrong. So you're claiming something is the case, but later you may decide you made quite a bad mistake. If you've never claimed it as the case, you're never going to discover that mistake either.

Edna O'Shaughnessy: It seems to me that in our work, we make a truth claim with an interpretation, but not an infallibility one. And that that's in its very nature. We could be wrong. We don't have a crystal ball, and we're not omniscient. And we could be wrong.

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Article Citation

Allison, L. and Palmer, R. (2017). Insights in Psychoanalysis: An Overview . PEP/UCL Top Authors Project, 1(1):21

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