Self analysis and case writing

30 July 2006 | , ,

Freud writes:

It is well known that no way has yet been found to embed the convictions that are gained through analysis within any account of the analysis itself. Certainly nothing would be gained by providing exhaustive minutes of what took place during analytic sessions; moreover, the techniques of the treatment preclude the production of any such minutes.” ((Freud, S (2006 [1918]) History of an infantile neurosis [The ‘Wolfman’] in Freud, S & Phillips, A (ed.) The Penguin Freud Reader. London: Penguin. p. 202))”

There are problems involved in writing a clinical diary of one’s own analysis, and these have been worrying me. They obviously tap into the objective-subjective dilemma I have been having of late. Let me summarize them: when I started this PhD, I was very keen on conducting an objective investigation into the causes and processes of object seduction, assuming this phenmenon operated a little like condensation of water in the form of clouds which then produces rain. In other words, cause and effect. Psychoanalysis has introduced two key ideas, disrupting my cozy but uninteristing thinking: the idea of practice and the idea of self.

In relation to writing, the latter has particular consequences. I find myself suffering the dilemma outlined by Freud in the opening quote of this post. There are, however, two added problems for me: (1) I am in the place of the analysand. Thus, I do most of the work in the analysis situation. Reflection and distance are sometimes made very difficult by the turmoil of feelings brought to bear by the couch. (2) I have to establish a complex relationship between my analysis and my PhD in art practice.

The first idea, that of practice, is proving a challenging and exciting way to resolve the latter. It also liberates me from the clutches of Lacan as a master. Understand psychoanalysis as a practices allows more of an intellectual space, without adopting a submissive position towards the literature, trying to make sense of something, building a philosophical edifice that may stand up, but may also be a mirage when it comes to seduction. See what Freud has to say about it:

[…] and he will assert that he does not see himself as possessing the astuteness necessary to concoct an event that could fulfill ll these requirements at a single stroke. Even this plea, however, will have no effect on the part of the population that has not itself had the experience of analysis. Sophisticated self-deception, some will say; others: an absence of discernment; and no veredict will be reached.” ((Freud, S (2006 [1918]) History of an infantile neurosis [The ‘Wolfman’] in Freud, S & Phillips, A (ed.) The Penguin Freud Reader. London: Penguin. p. 241))”

As a practitioner, my intense throughts require a picture, just to be able to focus, to find a metaphor to speak from. This was provided to me on my last visit to Sheffield, whose streets are being opened by heavy machinery, the direction of its roads is being reconsidered and the dust created by all these roadworks gives headaches to its inhabitants. I think I feel like the city!

Sheffield roadworks

But let me finish again with Freud. You may begin to notice that it is only recently that I have discovered his writings. His contribution if phenomenal! I don’t seem to agree or see eye to eye with many of his assertions but one needs to remember the achievement of his thought, the graoundbreaking nature of his conclusions ‚Äîeven if they owe a great deal to Shopenhauer’s ode of the mind‚Äî, including the creation of a lexicon that has common usage today. My bugbear with him at the moment is around his input as an anlyst in the Wolfman’s case. I know he meant to use many of his interpretations as mere symptoms to bring what was becoming a stale analysis back into some kind of movement (he uses the execellent metaphor of his patient’s bowels for this). Still, I can’t help but feel I can’t quite follow. Still, as seen in the quote above, analysis is a practice and reporting on a practice that is itself filtered may bring this sort of shortcomings. One thing is clear to me, though. Freud’s writing is rounded, clear and beautiful, his narratives are well constructed in literary terms. I can’t help but think of links between Freud and Sherlock Holmes; and even Freud and Nabokov, even though the poor Russian enchanter (who called Freud “Vienese witch doctor”) will probably be turning in his grave. This paragraph may, however, appease his disapproval:

In this way the course of the treatment illustrated the dictum, long held to be true by the analytic technique, that the length of the road that the analysis must travel with the patient and the wealth of material that must be mastered on that road are as nothing compared to the resistance encountered during the work, and are only worthy of consideration in that they are necessarily proportional to that resistance. It is the same proces as when a hostile army takes weeks and months to cross a stretch of land that an express train could cover ina few hours in peace time, and that one’s own army had crossed in a matter of days a hort time before.” ((Freud, S (2006 [1918]) History of an infantile neurosis [The ‘Wolfman’] in Freud, S & Phillips, A (ed.) The Penguin Freud Reader. London: Penguin. p. 200))”

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