Monday, November 6, 2017

Listening Stance

Analysts listen. But in what ways?

Fosshage delineates, adding jargon to the lexicon, two modes: an empathic mode of perception which he calls “the subject-centered listening perspective;” and one from the vantage point of the other who listens, and who also experiences the patient as the other, called “the other-centered listening perspective.” What is required of the analyst by the patient is an ongoing (repetitive) experience of the analyst as empathically attuned. The analyst’s empathic listening implicitly affirms her/his interest in the patient; lends validation to the patient’s experience; regulates affects, thus creating a safe attachment and space; and conveys understanding of the patient’s experiences.

Fosshage, J.L. (1997). Chapter 4 Listening/Experiencing Perspectives and the Quest for a Facilitating Responsiveness. Progress in Self Psychology, 13:33-55.

One problem with jargon is its inherent ‘narrowing-by-naming.’ For example, in ‘subject-centered’ listening, Fosshage means the patient as the ‘subject,’ as if this subject can be delineated from the relationship between the patient and analyst, and, moreover, from the co-created third, the shared unconscious that emerges as something bigger than either of the two separately. Of course, the patient is separate from the analyst, but the process is separate from neither.

Attunement and empathy, listening and perception, bring me to the major paradigm shifts in psychoanalysis from left brain (cognition, interpretation, insight) to right brain (affect and its regulation); from content to context; and from ‘how to’ (technique) to a way of being in relationship. More than Freud’s one-person “evenly hovering attention” to the patient’s narrative content is a shared affective state, shared dissociation and enactment in which attunement now speaks to a “contextualized perceptual experience.” (Bromberg) We 'listen' with more than our ears. We are hard-wired with the added capacity to perceive meaning in micro-expressions, in tone and prosody, and more.

Bromberg, P (2011) The Shadow of the Tsunami. Ch.6. Routledge, New York.

Listening, it turns out, includes who we are--- and who we are emerges uniquely with each unique patient.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is so lovely Lycia. Thank you.