HomeΨηφιακή ΒιβλιοθήκηΆρθραΆρθρα (Αγγλικά)Andrews, Jaime Coloma - "Oedipus and Narcissus, a Clinical Approximation"

Andrews, Jaime Coloma - "Oedipus and Narcissus, a Clinical Approximation"

In this essay I would like to show the way in which psychoanalysis could find better consistency between what the it"s beginning and what it is becoming in these present times. I think that the technical form of verbal interpretation of patients, with the aim of gaining consciousness of their conflicts, belonged to an ideal distinction between conscious and unconscious. I understand that this technique never was very consistent with Freudian metapsychology, responding more to a natural scientific model, than as a result of the formulation of the unconscious system as simultaneous and not topically placed, as Freud specified in 1900. He said that this form of ordenation was only didactic. But the intention of teaching, dissolved the real consequences of the Freudian plan, possibly even to Freud himself.

I believe that the current culture dramatically shows the explicit coincidence of unconscious and conscious in the same action, crossing, in some form, the repressive barriers. These barriers have been the patriarchal- style culture we have established, not only in the individual, but also in social life. The present situation obligates us to replace the classical interpretation for forms of psychoanalytical intervention that consider the external and the internal world as a continuous space. Winnicott"s transitional space and Lacan"s Moebius band speak of this reality and, obviously, have practical consequences. This transitional reality has been traditionally hidden by the imaginary forms of the ego, situation that has been sustained till our times, because of the repression barriers, which have been so closed to the culture of the Father. I think that, in these conditions, the Winnicottian notion of treatment, replacing technique, has found its better consistency. This was not very clear until today.

Narcissus and Oedipus represent, in general, the psychotic and the neurotic way of existence, dicotomy that matched with the time when psychoanalysis was born. Today, these forms of dicotomy, have been replaced by a sort of mixed style between neurosis and psychoses. Obviously I am not speaking of structural diagnosis, in a clinical way. I’m considering in the way we think and behave in our current culture. I’ll try to explain myself in the following part of this presentation.

I believe that our culture today is at a turning point, in which, from a psychoanalytical point of view, the main form of taking an existential position is "displacement".  I associate this with an Internet’s culture, in which Law is the access to information and not to an authority. It is a culture which has a natural effect in privacy and pace of living. Immediate communication is the rule. This implies that in these changing days the unconscious is explicitly nearer the pre-conscious, in a sort of mixed way of thinking. When displacement is so near to the preconscious, it seems to be a condition like psychosis, as Calligari established.

It would be excessively rash to assert that Internet has become the expression in our culture of what Freud described for the unconscious, especially because the content of the information is in the form of a secondary process and it gives an appearance of logical thinking.  But I am thinking not in the content of the information, but in the frantic way that it runs. The way knowledge available on Internet moves along from subject to subject, without the regulation of an authority. Just like it is in the unconscious and in what the quoted Calligary called the "psychotic structure". Then, I will take the risk of being extremely open minded in my interpretation and postulate that Internet is something like the unconscious system of our culture.

I could say that we are always searching for an agreement between what comes, in our nature, from Narcissus and what comes from Oedipus. I think that the core of Sophocles’ Oedipus is the Tiresias’ demand to Oedipus: "Don’t ask", because the blind and bisexual wise man, knew that Oedipus’ curiosity would cause a horrible response which Tebas’ King didn’t expect and should not know. For Freud, as we all know, this particular situation of Oedipus, is essential for every human being and its argument must be preserved in an unconscious articulation, where consciousness   must not arrive. This is also the condition of every neurotic.Submitted to "don’t ask" is the form of living in the illusion of the answers, but not in its conclussion. Paradoxically "don’t ask" is the style of  livingt in the question.

 When Narcissus wanted to hug his image, he died in the intention. This shows, in the same sense as Oedipus, that the wish never should be reached. The psychotic consequence of Narcissus, is the death of his condition as subject.  This is because the psychotic believes that he knows things by knowing them with the imaginary register, without submitting himself to the castration of the symbolic register. Something, the imaginary register, like the reflection of the water in which Narcissus looked at himself.

We, in our present times, have arrived to a cultural condition in which consciousness is dealing with the object, but not with the subject. The object free from subjectivity and roaming by every immediate significance, nothing on the horizon, everything in the immediate perception. Something like the psychotic way of living, as the anew quoted Calligary established with his notion of "language’s roaming".

As a consequence, the logic principle of non contradiction is often ignored today. This appears frequently, in the conscious declarations of the most anonymous person who defends a particular issue, as in the powerful leaders of the world.

It is the empire of circumstances as opposed to the Law. This is something that depends on, according to my point of view, a structural change in the form of communication, and deeply, in the articulation of the symbolic register.

In our psychoanalytical theme, something similar is happening. There is a characteristic double bond within relationships with people or with disciplines. Today it is possible to sustain a behaviouristic psychoanalysis, without relating to metapsychology, implying that this is more practical and clinical, and without confronting the assertion of an unconscious system which cannot be understood without the metapsychology. The inconsistency of this, for those who sustain this particular psychoanalysis, is irrelevant. To consider a psychoanalysis without unconsciousness, or with an unconsciousness which is conceived as a mere result of dissociation, is not a conceptual problem for these psychoanalysts.  If you argue that this is something that reduces the capacity of psychoanalysis for reading the unconscious, and to select from that reading the adequate interventión, you can be accused of intolerance and a lack of practical sense.

This displacement form of facing life is the option to a patriarchal way of existence in which condensation was the traditional manner of articulation in the conscious. Then, metonymy, as displacement, is what is ruling, on the surface.

This Internet culture, is one in which the answers are so close to hand, that they do not need consistency, because consistency shows, in its relationship, the complexity and weakness of every response. People in this culture need, explicitly, to be strongly narcissistic in the environment of gaining power that characterizes our times. I postulate that today, neurosis is something that happens in the individual, but not in the atmosphere of social existence. And we should seriously consider the growing frequency of what are called "pathologies of the act", which represents something between neurosis and psychosis.

We, in our current culture, have not found our Oedipus complex, yet. We are waiting for it. We are waiting, I believe, for our psychic blindness, against the delusional form of the empire of secondary process. Freud once said that psychotherapy needs to find the procedure and the oblivion. Today it seems that we don’t have the time to process the existence, because of it’s speedy way of living. ¿Is this our thebanian pest? People forget every day what was declared the day before, but this is not, I think, the form of oblivion that Freud considered, because everyday we have the narcissistic conviction that the present is the rule. The past is splitted.

This  situates us in   Winnicott"s treatment and not technique. We have to roam consciously according to the material of the patient, until we find, with the patient, the configuration which will open to a more realistic position in existence. And this must be step by step, without knowing "a priori", thus taking the risk of making a mistake and correcting it when a better configuration appears. This, I insist, is the treatment, not the technique.

The interpretations belong, according to this point of view, to a private inner world of the analyst. What he expresses is an intervention, selected from the interpretation, but it is not the intepretation itself. This is what, with patience, not with the speed of this culture, could develop conditions to find a better subjective position for the patient.

This, I think, should be the non narcissist condition of an analyst in the present times. Listening to Tiresias, holding the unknown, the question, by working with profound listening to what is happening in the session and also in the life of the patient. This helps to recover the sense of a subjective position by way of enlarging it to the unconsciousness of the unconscious, not to the consciousness of the unconscious. This is what, in my judgement, has to happen today in our practice. What is psychoanalytical is not the form of our interventions, but the place from which we select them. This place is the professional condition of the psychoanalyst according to Winnicott.

I believe that if we don’t change the way of considering the particular individuality of our patients, by preserving our classical techniques, as if times never change, we could die in the same way that Narcissus demonstrated, when he, in love with himself, wants to hug his image.

In Antonioni’s film, "The Passenger", there is an interview in which it is said that the questions reveal the person, not the answers. I think that we, as analysts, must preserve the questioning style, which emerges from the assertion of an unconscious. This should be our authenticity which reveals us as psychoanalysts, "not asking for an answer", but  preserving the question style, as the form of the wish. The treatment, conceived as Winnicott explained, is really close to not knowing, and the technique is an illusion of knowing, a submission to an answer that never represents what is really happening in the realm of unconsciousness, which is the condition of human beings. The technique, in psychotherapy, could be the actual delusion of our culture and we, the psychoanalysts, could be in that delusional way, so closed to this culture. That conduce, possibly, to the narcissistic punishment of Oedipus, who wanted to answer what should be repressed. In the presents days, with the access to total information, when we try to transform psychoanalytical metapsychology in  empirical validation, we are, may be, looking for something like the hug of Narcissus.

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