Thursday, October 25, 2018

Women and Picasso

Pablo Picasso (Oct 25, 1881 - Apr 8, 1973) is probably the most famous painter of the 20th Century.  His diverse styles in his paintings, drawings, sculptures, and ceramics exteriorized his relationships and changed, like his houses, with the women who inspired him. His art chronicled these women and his life.  He was born in Malaga, Andalusia Spain the first child of Don José Ruiz y Blasco, an art instructor, and María Picasso y López. The family moved to Barcelona after the death of his sister when he was seven years old. Later he would deconstruct the female form to abstraction. He would have two wives, but many mistresses, and he both adored and abused women.

Picasso at age sixteen moved to Madrid to study, 
then at nineteen to Paris with his friend Carlos Casagemas. 
The suicide of Casagemas in 1901 
over Picasso’s model Germaine Florentin Pichot 
began Picasso’s Blue Period (1901-1904).

La Vie. (Life)

It is said that his model Madeline 
relieved his depression, and 
inspired his Rose Period (1904-1906).


It is rumored she aborted his child.

Mother and child.

In 1904, Picasso meets Amelie Lang (Fernande Olivier)
his muse for seven years. Her likeness appears in 
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. 
One of Picasso’s most famous 
african influenced paintings
--perhaps his first cubist painting-- 
it shocked his contemporaries 
by its style, scale and subject matter (prostitutes in a bordello), 
but it transformed modern art.

In 1907 he and Georges Braque define and proliferate 

Girl with mandolin.

Beginning an affair with Eva Gouel in 1909,
he leaves Fernande and Paris in 1912, 
joining Braque in Sorgues. 
Braque is conscripted in WW I, 
and Eva died of tuberculosis in 1915.

      I love Eva. 

Eva and Picasso.

In 1917, while designing a ballet set with friend Jean Cocteau, Picasso meets his first wife ballerina Olga Khokhlova. She introduces him to the glitterati of the day, Chanel and Stravinsky, and others. They marry in 1918, and though she refuses to divorce him, he leaves her and their son Paulo. She had been his model and muse throughout his neoclassical period. 

His family had been transformed into giants.

In 1927 he began an affair with seventeen year old Maria-Therese Walter. Happy, he brings new colors to his work. In 1930 Picasso purchases Chateau de Boisegeloup for sculpting Maria-Therese. He brought Olga there to live in 1932. Maria-Therese gives birth in 1935 to Maya (Maria de la Concepcion) named after Picasso’s dead sister.

Maria-Therese would kill herself four years after Picasso’s death.

After Maya’s birth, Picasso began an affair with photographer Dora Maar in Paris. Fascism is on the rise. The tragedies of the Spanish Civil War compel Picasso to paint his most famous bombing of Guernica in 1937. It is a black and white painting of despair. 

Dora remained his muse in the dark days of occupied Paris.Painting of Dora
                    Maar, 1938

In 1946 Picasso moves to the south of France with Francoise Gilot, an art student forty years younger than he, and is happy again. 
La Joie de Vivre.

He purchases La Galloise, and he sculpts and paints at the Factory (La Furnace). He creates ceramics at Madoura’s. Francoise gives birth to Claude in 1947, then Paloma (she is named for Picasso's work with the global peace symbol, the dove of peace) in 1949. Francoise tolerated his wife and former mistresses until she left him in 1953 (and later married American physician-researcher Jonas Salk).

Picasso met Jacqueline Roque in 1953 at the Madoura. After the death of Olga, she would become his second wife in 1961.  Picasso was 79. He portrayed Jacqueline in his work more than any other woman in his life, painting seventy portraits of her in one year. 

Picasso died April 8, 1973. They were together all total twenty years. After arranging an homage to his work, Jacqueline killed herself in 1986.

[Please forgive that I call all the women by their first names, while Picasso is denoted by his mother's name].

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Peer supervision in continuing clinical case

A therapist is terrified that her suicidal patient, with attempts in the recent enough past, will actually end her life this time. The patient is hospitalized by family members when she attempts to kill herself at home. The therapist is relieved, but only a very little. The patient might still come back to the therapist and they might then recommence with the helplessness. The therapist feels alone. The patient might not return to the therapist’s office; Many psychiatrists and many medications have failed this patient before. Perhaps the patient holds on to the fantasy of omnipotence. I am so bad, so damaged, so ill, that no one can help me.

Perhaps the therapist is so angry at this patient for frightening her all these months and for making the therapist feel so incompetent for so long. The therapist is frightened now. The patient might kill herself; The patient might come back to treatment. Maybe the therapist has implicitly communicated ‘Don’t come back!’ as all the patient’s previous therapists may have done. Perhaps the therapist is ashamed of being angry, wishing the patient gone, hating the patient. Could this be made explicit? [Making the implicit explicit is not the same as making the unconscious conscious.] Could the therapist someday tell the patient, ‘Sometimes, when I feel incompetent to help you, I think I hate you. Sometimes you probably hate me, too, when I am so incompetent to help you. I expect our relationship will survive this hate, too.’

The patient herself might feel terribly guilty and ashamed that she hates. Hates her own children. Hates her therapist-who-is-only-trying-to-help. Mothers aren’t supposed to hate their children. But what a difficult job mothering is! How could exhaustion and tears and helplessness to live up to such expectations not engender hate sometimes? Just a little hate. Alongside love. Complicating things for the patient may be the childhood belief that her own mother didn’t love her. Afterall, her mother was dissociated and preoccupied with her own childhood trauma. A child does not know why a mother is not attentive and joyful. The child thinks, ‘Perhap it is my fault. I am unlovable. ‘Do unlovable people even deserve to live?’ she might, all grown up, question, but know ‘in her bones’ the answer: No. Complicating factors might be that the mother loved and hated her daughter (the patient), wanted her to sometimes go away.

Perhaps making hate explicit, and contained, signals to the patient that hate is felt by everybody. It is nothing to be ashamed of. We all feel it sometimes. It is nothing to be frightened of. Relationships can weather it.  Perhaps the sharing of the contents of the therapist’s mind -- ‘when I feel incompetent to help you’ -- disabuses the patient that her own mother’s hate was all the patient’s fault.

Complicating things for the therapist is the loss of a former patient by suicide while in hospital. The therapist had learned of that patient’s death during a work day. The next patient is here.* No time to grieve. The mother of that dead patient hounds the therapist with phone calls intimating blame. Can the therapist bear another suicidal patient after such a trauma? Complicating things for the therapist is the therapist’s own history in childhood of trying to save important others. I can’t leave behind my omnipotence. I can save them all. And Don’t be silly. Know my own limits. Or Let some people die. I can’t save them all.

*Again, do we make explicit to the patient what s/he may already implicitly know? The therapist is different. Is it me? Perhaps the therapist says something like, ‘You may sense that I am a bit off today. It is a personal matter. I am willing to power through if that suits you or we can reschedule. What do you think?’

Thursday, October 4, 2018

popular poetry for young women

Today is the 26th birthday [born Oct 4, 1992] of best selling (in part, due to her use of social media) poet Rupi Kaur, whose collections include Milk and Honey (2014) and The Sun and Her Flowers (2017), which have inspired [not necessarily critics] millions of young women, if one goes by her sales.  Born in Punjab, India, and immigrating at age four years to Canada, she did not learn English until the fourth grade. After having ‘felt voiceless for so long,” she likes performing her poems with a booming mic as well as being able to put words to the complex feelings she had had no words for in childhood. She writes about womanhood,

its struggles and dreams:

… all we’ve endured
has prepared us for this
bring your hammers and fists
we have a glass ceiling to shatter

love relationships:

you ask
if we can still be friends
i explain how a honeybee
does not dream kissing
the mouth of a flower
and then settle for its leaves…


...and you should see me
when my heart is broken
i don’t grieve
i shatter

Her first publication followed quite a stir she created by bringing the taboo topic of menstruation into a photo expose on Instagram. When Instagram twice removed them, she wrote "thank you Instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique." Instagram apologized. She also wrote [but in all caps], “I will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak…”

Therapists may know something about:

i am vulnerable
  to falling in love with
     human beings that tear
        themselves open for me...

Happy Birthday, Rupi

Monday, October 1, 2018

Some final ideas from and thoughts on Jill Gentile’s presentations in Tampa

In emphasizing materiality, the external world, Gentile notes the limits this reality places on imagination and omnipotence. The infant, in creating the transitional object, must also surrender to its limits, the constraints of the physical world out there to be found, and to its properties. We come into being through both our imagination/dreaming and through the limits of reality. Gentile muses that President Trump, aided and abetted by people who protect him from reality, has not tempered his omnipotence and fails to surrender to both reality and the rules of law [Lacan notes that without the Real there is a collapse of space, of the third, into two-ness. As such, when cultivating a fidelity to desire one still must be held accountable, responsible for one’s desires and actions. Bion, too, says there is a ‘truth instinct’-- what Civitarese* describes as the “drive toward integration and the construction of a psychic space”-- propelling us to a transcendent dimension while still relative or accountable to reality.]

Another interesting supposition of Gentile’s was to state that psychoanalysis spends too much time thinking about the analyst’s actions (interpretation, containment, etc) and too little time facilitating the actions and agency of the patient. In her practice, she tries -- with the intent to cultivate the patient’s voice and the patient’s agency-- to re-locate the primary action with the patient. Gentile intimates that in resistance, patients subvert the analyst’s agency and, if patients can do that, they are powerful enough to effect change. She went so far as to remind us of the patient’s part in ‘resistance.’ (This led, in the afternoon, to discussion amongst the attendees about when and how to approach this with the patient so as not to sound blaming and shaming.) Also discussed was the contradiction of the analyst’s authority as part of what is ‘curative’ [ala Freud] and the deconstruction of the analyst’s authority in order to achieve a level playing field in which the patient’s voice and authority could emerge.

Gentile also noted patients’ stubborn allegiance to identities such as ‘victim’ or ‘helper’ foreclosing potential for change [consistent with Bromberg’s staying the same while changing]. Gentile warns that too much reassurance and soothing from the analyst, too much provision of selfobject experience, deprives patients of the space for necessary conflict [confrontation with otherness?]. She reminds us that ‘maternal preoccupation’ [Winnicott, the perinatal period where the mother meets the needs of and adapts to the baby] is a time where the mother puts her own subjectivity on hold. Eventually the mother’s subjectivity, her mind, provides triangular space, the third, to the mother-infant dyad.

Space allows others into the conversation. Collapsing space through complementarity of doer-done to [Benjamin] forecloses possibility for conversation, curiosity, agency, initiative, and desire.

If space (transitional, triangular--the ‘third’--, …) is required for the emergence of self, for subjectivity and agency, then what about the feminine metaphor for agency? We have the phallic metaphor for potency and power, where is that which signifies creativity and generativity for the uterus? [How men 10,000 years ago must have marveled, and envied, that women could regularly bleed (and live!) and women could bring forth, from hidden, unnamed spaces -- out of their bodies -- another living being! Did men feel so dwarfed by these feats that they compensated with tall buildings and subjugation by brute force and myths like Athena arising from the head of Zeus? When asked what men fear from women, they answer: ridicule, being laughed at. Women, when asked what they fear from men, answer: being killed. One male comedian even quipped that men fear their blind dates may be ugly while women fear their blind dates may be serial killers.] Oh, the unequal playing field.

*Civitarese, G. (2013). The Grid and the Truth Drive. Ital. Psychoanal. Annu., 7:91-114.