Psychoanalysis: Phase One Evaluation

29 June 2006 | ,

CouchWell, that is it until next September. I have completed the first phase of my analysis and it has given me a substantial amount of material to think about. Psychoanalysis is very different from what I initially thought. Not surprising, since, like art, it is a subject area where id?©es re?ßues are the norm. For instance, one does not lay down on the couch and wait for the analyst‚Äôs question (usually portrayed as ‚Äúso, tell me about your mother‚Äù); one does not listen to interpretations, theoretical ramblings or explanations about the events in one‚Äôs life; one does not exclusively talk about one‚Äôs childhood‚Ķ

Let me explain the process. I knock on the door and J— S— opens and asks me to go through. While I lay in the couch, he closes the door and takes his position in a chair behind my head (that’s right, one does not see the analyst). Then, I start talking and talk for about 50 minutes, with brief interventions by my analyst. These interventions take the form of tying knots, of repeating what I have just said, sometimes in a slightly different way. He usually starts his sentences with: “I think you are saying to me…” or “if I understand correctly…”. At the end of the session, J— S— will say: “this is all the time we have for today”. It is up to me to take or discard issues or topics in each session and I must fully take the risk of facing my own denials frontally, if the analyst (or a slip of my tongue) decides to link things and put two and two together.

One of the correct received ideas of analysis is the emphasis on dream material. However, the hefty interpretations of things meaning this or that are not quite accurate. The analyst and analysand work through the material together and look for interpretations within the analysand’s discourse. There are no book answers or inspired explanations that will make everything all right. Even though he is the subject-supposed-to-know, the analyst does not know about the analysand’s traumas. Things are worked through together and knowledge (I hope) is arrived at in that way; that is why an analysis takes so long and can be so painful and frustrating.

Transference has been the most interesting part of my analysis, so far. Even though I am aware of the term and its theoretical underpinnings, feeling its full strength was a real surprise. It is an inevitable part of the process. I feel it takes the place of a ritual, a contract between analyst and analysand. The thought of it, the explicit and non-explicit (or hmmmms) instances when it is referred to in the process, also act as a manipulative tool and create a full set of expectations and a meaningful void (am I really going to miss analysis over the break or do I already miss analysis because J‚Äî S‚Äî asked me about if I was going to?). Chicken and egg in transference… The relationship between analyst and analysand is not less complex than that of viewer and work, however. The problem, as with almost anything in life, is one of time to discover, learn, love, hate the analyst and the work. It takes time for the analyst/work to take the real position of a and for the viewer to work through it.

Analysis has an impact on one‚Äôs life. It is inevitable. My own analysis it has made me more aware of certain aspects of my life I tried to conceal, it has brought them to the fore and I now know I must deal with them. That is why I am going through the process. My original demande d’analyse has substantially changes throughout these 10 weeks: I thought my reason for undertaking analysis was my PhD when, in fact, I may be using my PhD to resolve other more essential matters (I am beginning top explore why I have chosen “seduction” as the topic of my investigation). The objective and the subjective have been slightly blurred and, as in any mode of analysis, I am breaking the self into pieces and trying to work out what these are like, how they interact together, whether they belong to the same artefact and where am I going to find the glue to put everything back together again…

The clinical diary has somewhat helped toward the process by providing an analysis of analysis, paradoxical as it may sound, I have developed a little methodological tool to record and archive the process. First, during the train journey back, I record the session, through bullet point thoughts on a notebook. When I get home, I write more narrative pieces built on the initial bullet points. These pieces are around 700-word length and contain a description of topics talked about during the session, links to theoretical concepts and reflection about the process and my PhD topic. After writing the pieces, I draw out a few keywords to help me search through the database of entries. The process culminates with a circular motion as, in each train journey to my psychoanalytic appointment, I prepare by reading the bullet points from the last session. I am still not sure whether I write the narrative entries of the diary in the most appropriate way. This has been a learning process about writing practice itself, one which has been affected by the subjective/objective issue. I still feel my entries are too personal and need to be a bit more reflective, relating what happens to what I read and think about seduction, to the analogy between art and analysis I am beginning to explore. I suppose I am in the middle of gathering material and of developing a relationship with my analyst. There is a definite change in the latter entries… However, the personal still seduces me because it represents a strong riddle, a problem, or a challenge (challenge is, according to Baudrillard, what is at the heart of seduction, not desire). However, even though I am a seduced subject, I am not the object of my study.

What is not yet resolved is the link between psychoanalysis and my PhD in Art and Design Seduction. An analogy (one of the many possible ones) between the two is getting clearer for me and this is helping me to write the Swansea paper. Both psychoanalysis and art are highly seductive practices that depend on a ritualistic context that feeds itself on appearances (the couch, the white cube, the distance between the viewer and the work, the position of the analyst, conventions of both spaces). I still think that In the Place of an Object (JCFAR Volume 12, Special Issue 2000), together with Bruce Fink and Lacan’s discourse of the analyst will be crucial to this project. The key will be replicating some of what happened at the CFAR by putting, again, the object in the position of the analyst, letting it become Objet Petit a. My proposed contribution to the findings and discussions of the CFAR show and writings is that the objects will be created (trained?) to take the position of the analyst and the relationship between object and viewer/analysand will be monitored and evaluated.

One of the main problems I see looming is that of avoiding over-killing a topic that needs freedom in order to exist and operate, whilst, at the same time, carrying out a rigorous and systematic investigation. Baudrillard already antagonizes seduction and production and speaks of the impossibility of ‚Äúproducing‚Äù seduction. As someone said to me, I may only be able to manage a strategy to catch a glimpse of seduction‚Ķ like in a analysis, if the situation is too metalinguistic, too solipsistic, too self-referential, one goes round and round in circles and gets lost (hence why psychoanalytic theory does not come up in my sessions…).

Like art practice, like a PhD degree, one’s analysis is a long journey. My motivation and commitment are there for all three.

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