Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tampa Bay Psychoanalytic Society Hosts Nancy Goodman, Ph.D.

On April 26, 2008, Nancy Goodman, Ph.D. spoke to the Tampa Bay Psychoanalytic Society about "Love that Hurts: When Sadomasochism Organizes the Psyche." What was clear is that Goodman experienced the analysand's detachment and silences as sadistic; she felt "tortured." What was not clear was why this was theorized as an anal fixation or even as an intent to treat the analyst sadistically. It is true that the analysand had early childhood experiences that centered around the alimentary canal (power struggles: 'forced' feedings and enemas), but the connection between these early experiences, the material, and the theory was not made clear.

What was truly refreshing was the subsequent discussion, and the presentor's graciousness regarding genuine openness to other perspectives. The attendees seemed to emphasize the early misattunement between mother and child. Mother's controlling and intrusive behavior may have led the small child, who later appears "autistic" as an adult analysand, to detach, not as a sadistic manuever to control the object, but as a self-preservation to contain unbearable affect (Lewis Aron, who, by the way, will visit Tampa October 17, 2008). Goodman herself recognized that a fetish (she proposed that the object-relationship was itself a fetish in this case) was an attempt to "keep away disorganizing terror." [I do acknowledge the defense of 'turning the tables,' (or as a colleague once cogently slipped, "What comes around, goes around"), that this analysand's behavior could communicate to and engender in the analyst the feelings he had felt as a child vis a vis his mother. But I wondered, as did others, what participation by the analyst helped entrench for so long this dynamic between them?]

The audience also noted that when a mother treats a baby not as a baby, but as an object, this may be indicative of the mother's inability to participate in reverie and to hold the baby in her mind (Thomas Ogden), a problem noted in the analysis: it was as if the analyst did not feel held in the analysand's mind and felt objectified. Detachment was also considered by some attendees, not as anally sadistic, but instead as anaclitic, a reaction of depression from an infant whose needs are so ignored, or misunderstood.

Goodman repeatedly evoked disavowal ("a desire to disavow difference") but did not explore that this disavowal may have been a co-creation, e.g. when an analyst can not allow certain topics or affects to be explored because of her own discomfort, a discomfort which the analysand implicitly perceives through tone, facial expression, body language, etc. (Goodman did evoke Wilfred Bion's concept ("alpha" function), but did not connect it to the material presented, nor to recent research on right brain communication and implicit knowing.)

Christopher Bollas, referring to Freud's early cases, speculated that the erotic transference may have been an attempt to enliven the analyst (out of the stance of abstinence). If indeed sadistic, could there not also have been in this presented case the additional possibility that an analysand uses sadistic behavior as an attempt to search for the surviving other (D.W.Winnicott; Jessica Benjamin), an attempt to break through to the other (analyst)? The turning point in the analysis was seen to be when the analyst spontaneously expressed "shock" that the analysand was quitting treatment. Could this have been pivotal, in part, because the analysand could now perceive an (affective) effect on the analyst?

On a more personal note: When a presentation allows for such lively, interesting, and fun discussion, I applaud the group's ability to sustain the tension between differing ideas. Perhaps the Tampa Bay Psychoanalytic Society possesses within it, after all, the ability to refrain from privileging one theoretical perspective as more refreshing than other equally evocative and useful ones. I also applaud Goodman's ability to be open to do so.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Online Interactive Series "Evolving Clinical Practice"

The Tampa Bay Institute for Psychoanalytic Studies Presents

Tradition and Change:
Evolving Clinical Practice

An interactive online series featuring a paper by
Arnold Schneider, Ph.D.

CLICK HERE to read paper "Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy"

How can psychoanalytic practitioners from diverse theoretical backgrounds
make use of new or different perspectives?

Dr. Arnold Schneider, an experienced psychoanalyst trained in the tradition of ego psychology, leads off this online series by inviting us to join him in his “work in progress.”

His engaging and insightful paper, written as an introductory presentation on psychoanalytic psychotherapy, highlights the basic phases and elements of the process using the lens of the traditional model that has formed the foundation of his practice. Only four years after writing it, Dr. Schneider takes the unusual and challenging step of using a forum like this to announce changes in his view of the analytic process. He welcomes us into a dialogue about possibilities for integrating contemporary approaches with traditional concepts and challenges us to think with him about what it means to evolve our psychoanalytic practice.

Interactive Online Series:

During the next several weeks,

responses of all kinds from various analytic therapists will be posted online.

We want to hear your thoughts about what additions, deletions, changes, etc. you'd make to the paper ---
all clinical and theoretical views welcome!

Make comments or share your experiences – anonymously or owned – simply by clicking on the “COMMENTS” link at the end of each post. At the conclusion, the faculty of TBIPS will offer a summary of the dialogue and compile an outline for a new "co-created" paper.


Click here to read "Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy" and then post your comments to help us integrate this ego-psychological paper with other contemporary approaches.

Monday, April 14, 2008

If Unconscious is in the Right Brain, why is analysis in the Left Brain?

There is something extremely puzzling to me. My hope is that, through discourse, I can come to better understand this question about analysis in the left brain (verbal, symbolization via language, logic-of sequence, explicit, etc) when growing evidence seats the Unconscious in the right brain (nonverbal, emotional-affective, bodily-based, relational, implicit). This 'crisis of faith' (really, of emphasis, or privileging of what is mutative) was triggered by my attendance at the American Psychological Association, Division 39 (psychoanalytic) over the weekend in NYC. Though I attended over 30 hours of presentations and discussions, I was most 'blown away' by the 50 minute lecture of Allan N. Schore, Ph.D. [of UCLA, author of "Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self" and "Affect Regulation and the Reparation of the Self"] on April 12, 2008 entitled, "The Paradigm Shift: the Right Brain and the Relational Unconscious."

Schore is a neuropsychologist, so he talked about the brain. The most ancient part, the brainstem, oversees the automomic nervous system (think "automatic:" breathing and heart rate, fight-flight responses, etc), arousal, and pain. It interfaces with the limbic system (the seat of our emotions and libidinal and aggressive motivations), which, in turn, interfaces with the Right hemisphere. The right brain is bodily based, nonverbal, ultra-rapidly integrative of emotion, affect, facial expression, auditory prosodic, gestural, and other relational data, and is so rapid that this information processing is truly unconscious! It is the seat of implicit memory. In turn, the right brain interfaces with the left hemisphere, where explicit, verbal communication originates.

Early interactions between infant and caretaker regulate affect and self. The primary care-giver regulates the infant's bodily-based, affective arousal (the mind is not separate from the body). The infant brain actually develops according to relational, two-person, intersubjective experience! As most regulation is going on at the unconscious level, Schore recommends that analysis focus on recovery of affect-laden infantile experience, even dissociated affects.

As Schore states that 60% of communication is non-verbal (facial expression, posture, gestures, tone, prosody, pitch, inflection, etc), it makes one question how did psychoanalysis come to privilege left brain (explicit, verbal) communication? Because it is easier to quantify and understand consciously? [Some, including Lew Aron, who will visit us in Tampa October 17, 2008, and Jessica Benjamin theorize that the repudiation of feminity - designated as that which is relational and right brain, while language is designated masculine (think Lacan) - had something to do with the eschewing of right brain communication.]

I have to rethink how I will define psychoanalysis. Will my definition remain left brain lop-sided, privileging the revealing of the unconscious through reading between the (verbal) lines, or will I have to learn to value and make use of right brain communications? And am I doing that unconsciously already, unconscious to unconscious? Can this use of right brain unconscious even be taught or is it dependent on the infantile development of my own brain? Something besides insight from interpretation must be mutable, too, but how do we define it, learn it, understand it? Let me know what you think. I am grateful to Schore for giving me a basis to understand the clinical value of the elegant and painstaking research of Beebe and Lachmann on speech patterns and facial expression of the analyst. My children are grateful for any information that helps me pay more attention to tone.