Social | Psychoanalytic | Work

Neil Gorman (DSW, LCSW, PEL, AP)

Lectures and instruction for SWK-6521 Advanced Clinical Social Work. A course in the MSW program at Aurora University.

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⌬ Lecture №1 | Types of Theory & The Unconscious
Jul 20 2021
⌬ Lecture №1 | Types of Theory & The Unconscious
Different kinds of theories & the unconsciousHi,Welcome to The Introductory Podcast Lectures on Psychodynamic Praxis, produced in association with the Aurora University school of social work. I’m you’re host Neil Gorman.Let’s get started:In this podcast lecture, I want to do two things.First, I want to describe different kinds of theories and tell you what sort of theory I think psychodynamic theory falls into.And second, I want to dive into the most fundamental concept of psychodynamic theory —the unconscious.Let’s get started with a metaphor: Theories as Buildings. Let’s say that a theory it’s like a building. Some theories are pretty simple buildings, with only a few concepts (rooms). I’d say the behaviorism of B.F. Skinner is an example of what I would call a simple theory, ambiguous loss of Pauline Boss another example. (If you don’t already know about those theories, you could Google them or look them up on Wikipedia, and you’d get a good idea of what I’m calling simplistic theories.)Simplistic theories & suburban houses.Exploring a simple theory is easy. It’s kind of like when your friend buys a new house and then has a housewarming party.You come over, they say, “Let me give you the tour.” Then you and the new homeowner walks you through the house, you see all the rooms, they point out cool features of the house and talk about what they plan to change. The whole thing takes like 10, maybe 15 min. Then you’re done. You’ve seen the house and can wander around it without getting lost.At this point, I want to make something clear — Simple theories can be useful and helpful. They are not “bad theories”; they are just simple, they don’t require us to invest a lot of time and energy to really understand them.There are lots of people who really like these simple theories because they are simple. I’ve found people who do enjoy simple theories will often describe the theory as something that is “practical” or “pragmatic.”(As a quick side note: These kinds of simple and practical theories are the most prevalent and popular here in the United States.)Complex theories & castles: The next point I want to make is probably obvious: In addition to simple theories, there are also complex theories.Continuing with the theory as buildings metaphor:Complex theories are like strange old castles with many concepts coming together to create these elaborate kinds of baffling construction. (If you want a good example of this sort of theory, think of Hogwarts from the Harry Potter books.)Exploring one of these complex theories takes time and energy. You enter in through the front door, start moving through the rooms and hallways, and fairly soon, you find yourself kind of lost, unsure of where you are or how you got there. But, even though you’re lost, you’re discovering this bizarre, unexpected stuff.While some people (people who prefer to know where they are going and how they will get there) prefer simple theories, I find them a little boring. I prefer complex theories, but I can get lost in them. I get a thrill from coming across sorts of strange things that lurk in the grand castles of complex theories.(Remember how earlier I referenced Hogwarts from Harry Potter? For those of you who like that, here’s another nerdy pop-culture reference for you: Some theories are like typical suburban homes, others --the more complex ones– are more like Doctor Who’s TARDIS.)Now, in case this isn’t obvious, I’ll just come out and say it. I think that psychodynamic theory is, in my opinion, a complex theory. I entered more than a decade ago, and I’m still exploring it.As I said earlier, the point of this podcast lecture is to describe one of the fundamental concepts of psychodynamic theory --the unconscious. Sticking with my metaphor, I think of the unconscious as the grand hall that the rest of psychodynamic theory is built around. Another way you could think of it is to imagine the unconscious as the primary load-bearing wall at the center of the structure. If this load-bearing wall came down, the rest of the structure would implode as well. If you don't buy into the idea of the unconscious, I'd argue that you won't buy into psychodynamic theory, period. I'd also say that if you don't have a good enough understanding of the unconscious, you won't understand the other important concepts in psychodynamic theory. ⌬The Unconscious So let’s start examining the unconscious.It has been described in lots of different ways. But I find the most useful way to describe the unconscious isThe part of you that has a mind of its own. To elaborate on this, I would say the unconscious is a part of you that desires (or wants) things, but you don’t consciously know what these desires are. Sometimes your unconscious desires line up with your conscious desires, but they certainly don’t always.To further illustrate what the unconscious is, and let’s consider the following example.According to psychodynamic theory, unconscious desires (or repressed desires, which I'll talk about in a future lecture) show up in different things that we say or do, that we don’t expect, and that don’t make sense to us.When these desires pop up in our speech and actions, they surprise us because —as I just said— what the unconscious says is often at odds with what we are consciously trying to accomplish.The term “self-sabotage” has become a common way people refer to how the unconscious inserts itself into our day-to-day lives. I think this term is really helpful because the “self” in self-sabotage could also be called our conscious plans, and the “sabotage” (or the saboteur) of those plans is a good stand-in for the unconscious. When the unconscious does sabotage our conscious plans, we are surprised and confused.If you’ve ever said or done something that you think is embarrassing when you were trying to be impressive, you’ve experienced this. When something like that happens, we think, why did I just say that?!Another example would be when we tell ourselves something like, “I’m going to lose weight, so no more junk food! I mean it! I’m serious! Junk food is dead to me!” And then it's someone's birthday at work, so there is cake in the break room, and even though we conscious were just like “No more junk food for me!” We end up eating a small piece of cake, then we have another, then when people are like “please take some cake home,” we have some more… so on and so forth.Ok, so now that we have a description, we can use it as a starting point for what the unconscious is and how it works. Let’s go further and talk about how people try to deal with their unconscious.Most people are engaged in a sort of battle with their unconscious, a battle where they try to force it to comply with a sort of logic or rationale, with something that ”makes sense.”Another way to describe the unconscious and the battle that many people I walked in with it would be to say that the unconscious it’s a wild part of us (again, a part of us that doesn’t make sense) that we are consistently trying to tame in domesticate (trying to make it make sense). But it keeps eluding our efforts.
⌬ Lecture №1 | Types of Theory & The Unconscious
Jul 20 2021
⌬ Lecture №1 | Types of Theory & The Unconscious
Different kinds of theories & the unconsciousHi,Welcome to The Introductory Podcast Lectures on Psychodynamic Praxis, produced in association with the Aurora University school of social work. I’m you’re host Neil Gorman.Let’s get started:In this podcast lecture, I want to do two things.First, I want to describe different kinds of theories and tell you what sort of theory I think psychodynamic theory falls into.And second, I want to dive into the most fundamental concept of psychodynamic theory —the unconscious.Let’s get started with a metaphor: Theories as Buildings. Let’s say that a theory it’s like a building. Some theories are pretty simple buildings, with only a few concepts (rooms). I’d say the behaviorism of B.F. Skinner is an example of what I would call a simple theory, ambiguous loss of Pauline Boss another example. (If you don’t already know about those theories, you could Google them or look them up on Wikipedia, and you’d get a good idea of what I’m calling simplistic theories.)Simplistic theories & suburban houses.Exploring a simple theory is easy. It’s kind of like when your friend buys a new house and then has a housewarming party.You come over, they say, “Let me give you the tour.” Then you and the new homeowner walks you through the house, you see all the rooms, they point out cool features of the house and talk about what they plan to change. The whole thing takes like 10, maybe 15 min. Then you’re done. You’ve seen the house and can wander around it without getting lost.At this point, I want to make something clear — Simple theories can be useful and helpful. They are not “bad theories”; they are just simple, they don’t require us to invest a lot of time and energy to really understand them.There are lots of people who really like these simple theories because they are simple. I’ve found people who do enjoy simple theories will often describe the theory as something that is “practical” or “pragmatic.”(As a quick side note: These kinds of simple and practical theories are the most prevalent and popular here in the United States.)Complex theories & castles: The next point I want to make is probably obvious: In addition to simple theories, there are also complex theories.Continuing with the theory as buildings metaphor:Complex theories are like strange old castles with many concepts coming together to create these elaborate kinds of baffling construction. (If you want a good example of this sort of theory, think of Hogwarts from the Harry Potter books.)Exploring one of these complex theories takes time and energy. You enter in through the front door, start moving through the rooms and hallways, and fairly soon, you find yourself kind of lost, unsure of where you are or how you got there. But, even though you’re lost, you’re discovering this bizarre, unexpected stuff.While some people (people who prefer to know where they are going and how they will get there) prefer simple theories, I find them a little boring. I prefer complex theories, but I can get lost in them. I get a thrill from coming across sorts of strange things that lurk in the grand castles of complex theories.(Remember how earlier I referenced Hogwarts from Harry Potter? For those of you who like that, here’s another nerdy pop-culture reference for you: Some theories are like typical suburban homes, others --the more complex ones– are more like Doctor Who’s TARDIS.)Now, in case this isn’t obvious, I’ll just come out and say it. I think that psychodynamic theory is, in my opinion, a complex theory. I entered more than a decade ago, and I’m still exploring it.As I said earlier, the point of this podcast lecture is to describe one of the fundamental concepts of psychodynamic theory --the unconscious. Sticking with my metaphor, I think of the unconscious as the grand hall that the rest of psychodynamic theory is built around. Another way you could think of it is to imagine the unconscious as the primary load-bearing wall at the center of the structure. If this load-bearing wall came down, the rest of the structure would implode as well. If you don't buy into the idea of the unconscious, I'd argue that you won't buy into psychodynamic theory, period. I'd also say that if you don't have a good enough understanding of the unconscious, you won't understand the other important concepts in psychodynamic theory. ⌬The Unconscious So let’s start examining the unconscious.It has been described in lots of different ways. But I find the most useful way to describe the unconscious isThe part of you that has a mind of its own. To elaborate on this, I would say the unconscious is a part of you that desires (or wants) things, but you don’t consciously know what these desires are. Sometimes your unconscious desires line up with your conscious desires, but they certainly don’t always.To further illustrate what the unconscious is, and let’s consider the following example.According to psychodynamic theory, unconscious desires (or repressed desires, which I'll talk about in a future lecture) show up in different things that we say or do, that we don’t expect, and that don’t make sense to us.When these desires pop up in our speech and actions, they surprise us because —as I just said— what the unconscious says is often at odds with what we are consciously trying to accomplish.The term “self-sabotage” has become a common way people refer to how the unconscious inserts itself into our day-to-day lives. I think this term is really helpful because the “self” in self-sabotage could also be called our conscious plans, and the “sabotage” (or the saboteur) of those plans is a good stand-in for the unconscious. When the unconscious does sabotage our conscious plans, we are surprised and confused.If you’ve ever said or done something that you think is embarrassing when you were trying to be impressive, you’ve experienced this. When something like that happens, we think, why did I just say that?!Another example would be when we tell ourselves something like, “I’m going to lose weight, so no more junk food! I mean it! I’m serious! Junk food is dead to me!” And then it's someone's birthday at work, so there is cake in the break room, and even though we conscious were just like “No more junk food for me!” We end up eating a small piece of cake, then we have another, then when people are like “please take some cake home,” we have some more… so on and so forth.Ok, so now that we have a description, we can use it as a starting point for what the unconscious is and how it works. Let’s go further and talk about how people try to deal with their unconscious.Most people are engaged in a sort of battle with their unconscious, a battle where they try to force it to comply with a sort of logic or rationale, with something that ”makes sense.”Another way to describe the unconscious and the battle that many people I walked in with it would be to say that the unconscious it’s a wild part of us (again, a part of us that doesn’t make sense) that we are consistently trying to tame in domesticate (trying to make it make sense). But it keeps eluding our efforts.
⌬ Lecture №3 | The Drive & Other Things that Don't Make Sense
Jul 29 2021
⌬ Lecture №3 | The Drive & Other Things that Don't Make Sense
The opening paragraphs of the chapter for this week speaks to how much we (and by "we" I mean social workers and others who work in mental health) like things that make sense, we enjoy being able to explain stuff. For this reason, we are, by and large, drawn to theories and systems that help us in our attempts to "make sense" out of stuff. Even the term "make sense" is revealing: We make sense, which is to say that we produce sense, we create sense. Sense being synonymous with an explanation or understanding of what we encounter or experience. Another way to say this is that people generally get a kick out of solving mysteries and making having ah-ha moments where all of a sudden we can put things together in ways that make things that did not make sense start to make sense. It feels good when something goes from being something outside of our understanding to something that fits into our understanding. What I just read from Inside Out & Outside In makes clear is how, today, right now, so much of the work social workers, and other people involved in mental health, do is aimed at using the scientific method (i.e., empirical research, statistics, psychological experiments, etc.) to help us produce this thing we call Data. Data that we then use to produce plans, measurable outcomes, to make what are often called “data-driven decisions.”And when it works the scientific methods is awesome. Making data-driven decisions is a great idea. Except when it's not --when we encounter things that don't make sense, the flukes, the things that don't follow the rules and trends the data suggests they will. Psychoanalysis tends to focus on the things we can’t explain because they don’t make sense. The outliers refute what the data should happen. The things people do that don’t make sense, the thing that people feel that don’t make sense, the things that people believe that don’t make sense.These things that don’t make sense, are often unhealthy, illogical, and perhaps even crazy; they are are the things that freak us out a lot.I think that there are lots of mental health theories and practices that will look away from these enigmatic irrational nonsensical things and look towards the things that people do that do make sense, that are healthy, that we can be proud of. (The whole strength-based   perspective, which is so prevalent in social work, is an example of this tendency to privilege healthy things and to shy away from the more problematic things in our lives and the lives of our patients.)What I’m going to ask you to do is to bear with me while I tell you some things about something that does not make sense, yet is present in all of our lives: the drive.The Drive: Some people have described psychoanalysis as a way of examining or studying the relationship between the subject (a person with an unconscious) and their object.When I first heard this, I thought to myself, what is "their object"? That seems like kind of a vague term. Now, several years later, I've got a pretty good handle on what this might mean, and I'm going to explain it to you. The term object is very flexible. It can mean actual things (like a car, a computer, a piece of jewelry, etc.), but the ways psychoanalysts use the word it can also mean things that are more complex (time, money, power, control, etc.). An object can be an experience that someone wants (sex, adventure, winning, etc.). There are some objects we want, and we can get them. Earlier today I wanted a donut and I went and got three donuts. But there are some objects that we can't get, or we can't get enough of them. These objects are called "drive objects". When it comes to drive objects, we are sort of like zombies. We just keep going after that object. No matter how much of that object we may get, we will just want more. Also, generally speaking, things that are drive objects are things that we don't NEED, but we ENJOY, and they are things that represent a transgression. By "transgression" I mean that having them is something that some people would call "bad" or "inappropriate." I'll use money as an example: I've known some people who wanted to make lots of money, and they did. They made all sorts of money. They bought a house, a nice car, other expensive things. Then they invested their money, and their investments turned their money into more money. And the thing is, no matter how much money they made, they wanted more and more money. For some of them the more money, they had the more stingy they got.  Another thing I've seen function as a drive object for lots of people (lots of social workers!) is validation. People want to be validated, told they are on the right track, told they are doing the right thing. However, even when they get the validation they are not satisfied! Give it just a little bit of time and they want more validation. This brings me to the next point I want to make about drive objects. When we go after them, regardless of whether we get them or don't, our pursuit of these objects is usually a problematic aspect of our lives. One of the things that psychoanalysis might try to help someone with is altering their relationship to a drive object. Notice I said, "alter their relationship to a drive object," I did not say, "get rid of their relationship to a drive object." This is because, and you might not agree with this, according to psychoanalytic theory, we will always have some kind of drive object in our lives. To close this podcast lecture I'm going to make a request: Can you all please try to think of someone (it can be yourself if you're comfortable doing that) who has a drive object? Come to class being able to describe the person and their drive object.
⌬ Lecture  №4 | Transference
Jul 29 2021
⌬ Lecture №4 | Transference
Review:  Psychoanalysis is more interested in things (behaviors, patterns, desires, etc.) that don't work and less interested in things that do. Things like the unconscious, the return of the repressed, and drive objects.   The Unconscious is a part of you that has a mind of its own. That mind is comprised of repressed desires, memories, affects (emotions), and other traumatic things. When something is repressed, we are not aware of it, we don't know it is there, but it keeps on popping up in our lives (this is what Freud called the "return of the repressed"), kind of like a ghost that haunts us. A name for a person with an unconscious is a subject. Psychoanalysis can be described as the examination of / study of the relationship between a subject and their (drive) object. We go after a drive object, but no matter how much of it we get, we want more. Drive objects are also excessive and transgressive. Our desire for our drive object is one of those desires that is usually repressed. Transference | What it is not: Ok, with all that review out of the way, we will look at another thing that pops up in the lives of subjects. It is a word I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts you've heard before: Transference. However, even though you've heard this word before, I'm going to assume that you might not have heard it described in the psychoanalytic sense of the term. In the past, when I've taught about transference, I've asked students,How would you define transference?In your own words, tell me what transference is. Can anyone give me an example of transference? And every time I did this, people students said something like: Transference is when someone reminds you of someone else.   While this may be how the word gets used by lots of people nowadays, that use of the term is (in my opinion) incorrect! It's wrong! And what I want to do now is tell you what the term transference means when someone who is a psychoanalyst (or someone who is well versed in psychoanalytic theory) uses the term. Transference | What it is:Transference is an unconscious process. This means when someone is transferring, they don't know they're doing it! When we transfer, we are (unconsciously!) bringing something fairly specific from one relationship to another. The thing that is being (unconsciously!) transferred is a power dynamic. Specifically, we are turning someone into a parent. a) Into someone who knows what we want them to know. b) Into someone who can give us what we need/want if we only convince them.  c) Into someone who we need to approve of us, what we are doing, and why we are doing it. d) Or into someone who we need to hide what we are doing from because we fear their disapproval.
⌬ Lecture  №5 | Pleasure & Instinct v. Enjoyment & Drive; The Shift to the Structural & Economic Model
Aug 5 2021
⌬ Lecture №5 | Pleasure & Instinct v. Enjoyment & Drive; The Shift to the Structural & Economic Model
In this lecture, I talk about Pleasure & Instinct v. Enjoyment & Drive, the shift from the topographical model of the unconscious, pre-conscious, conscious to the structural model of id, ego, and superego. I also do a short bit on the economic model of the mind. Review 1. The unconscious is a part of you with a mind of its own. 2. Traumatic stuff can’t be erased, but it can be defensively put into the unconscious, this is called **repression**.3. When **repression** happened the traumatic thing is still present, but as sort of a ghost haunting us. 4. One of the things that can be traumatic is desire. 5. Our ghost traumas often lead us to do things that don’t make sense. 6. **Drive objects**, which I spoke about in lecture number 3, are one thing that does not make sense. 7. **Transference**, which I spoke about in lecture number 4, is another thing that does not make sense. TodayIn today’s lecture, I am going to be talking about two things. 1. The difference between the terms pleasure and enjoyment (or satisfaction), and how these terms relate to instincts and drives. As I do this I’ll build more on top of what I said about the drive(s) in a prior podcast lecture. 2. Secondly, I’ll describe a shift in Freud’s thinking from the topographical model of the mind which is made up of the conscious, pre-conscious, unconscious, to the structural model of the mind which is made up of the id, the ego, and the superego.Let’s get started. Pleasure / Instincts v. Enjoyment / DriveTo start with I want to try to make something clear, but to do this I’ll need to tell you some psychoanalytic history involving a mistake in translation from German to English. - When Freud wrote he used both **instinct** (Instinct) and **drive** (Trieb). - Instincts are things our body does naturally, without being taught. - Instincts help our body stay alive. - When we do what instinct tells us to we get pleasure. - EX: Nap, stretch, laugh, - Both human beings and animals have instincts. - Instincts are about getting our needs met.  Now here is the odd thing… If you can try to imagine a lie where you have only what you need, but nothing more than that. That does not sound like a great life, eh? This is where drives come in. - Drives are kind of like instincts gone off the rails. - A drive demands that we get **more** than we need, it demands that we get something the brings enjoyment. - Drives are excessive, they are aimed at things (or experiences) in excess of what we need, they are the surplus, the extra stuff we don’t need but we like having. - And, because they are excessive, the things that our drives are going after are the things that are “off-limits.” The original translator decided to make instinct and drive into the word instinct. Why this choice was made, I have no idea… but it was. And as a result, the English-speaking world has consistently been moving away from Freud’s ideas of the drive. This brings me to the next stuff we will be covering in the class. Topographical v. Structural In this section of the podcast lecture, I want to talk about the two main models of the mind that Freud articulated. Early work (Freud’s demo tape) 1887 - 1896 (Fleiss, studies in hysteria) The Seduction Model Topographical: 1897 - 1920 (studies in hysteria, the psychopathology of everyday life, the dream book, beyond the pleasure principle)- The iceberg metaphor- The room, hallway, rest of the house metaphor- Example: ask people to remember their first day of kindergarten. Talk about how this is taking something from the preconscious and bring it into the conscious.- Example: something that is unconscious is that something you can tell me about. I can ask you about it, but you won’t be able to tell me. Example asking in person why they have come to therapy. They can tell you a reason, but usually, the real reason is repressed and therefore unconscious.Structural: 1921 - 1939 (_Group Psychology & the analysis of the Ego_ & _The Ego & the Id_)- This is the id, ego, superego. - Though Freud never used those terms. (Again this was the original translator’s choice). - the id is a part of us outside of our social identity, it is a wild thing…. Outside of all the ways we normally see ourselves and others. It has no concern for social constructs. It is more concerned with if you are a friend or foe if you’re going to help or hinder it in its desire to get whatever it is driven to want. - The ego is the “I” as in “I think psychoanalysis is cool.” It is our identity, the part of us that is concerned with being consistent, whole, complete. - The superego is **not your conscious**, not the little angel on your shoulder! It is your internalized authority figure, the part of you that judges things to be right or wrong, ethical or unethical, good or bad, etc. - What makes this different than the angle on your shoulder? - The superego is a jerk, it is a demanding, judgmental, jerk. No one wants to hang out with your superego! The Economic Model One thing that fits into the structural model well is this other idea called the economic model of the mind. This model works kinda like this. - Our mind is a system, and in that system, there is a finite (not a limitless) amount of energy. - No sometimes we are doing things that pull (withdraw) energy from that system, and sometimes we are doing things that deposit energy into the system. - One of the things that are taking energy is “not freaking out,” or “holding myself (my ego) together).” - Most of the time that is easy, but it is not easy. - When the ego lacks energy the things the ego is trying to contain come out.  - the id - drives - emotions- This leads to moments where “I don’t know what came over me’” (The id is what came over you!).
⌬ Lecture №7 | Ego Psychology
Aug 21 2021
⌬ Lecture №7 | Ego Psychology
No review today, for two reasons. First reason - because everything that we’ve covered before now, at this point you know it. And if you don’t know by now, then you’re probably just not gonna know it. The second reason - all of the podcast lectures before this one or one unit, the first unit, the foundational unit.Today’s podcast lecture, which is going to be over **ego psychology**, is the first in a series of lectures that will be the second unit of the class.Along with ego psychology, some of the other theories that we will cover in this unit are- Self-psychology (Kohut)- Attachment theory (Bowlby, Ainsworth, & Main) - Object relations (Klein, Winnicott, Fairburn, Bion)- Intersubjective / Relational  Historical Context Before moving into the main part of this podcast lecture, I want to say something about the context, the cultural milieu, that surrounded the formation of ego psychology’s a theoretical offshoot of Freudian psychoanalysis. Freud developed the theory of psychoanalysis in Europe, mainly during the Victorian era when there was a rigid system of rather oppressive social structures. There were three important norms of Freud’s day: 1. The exclusion of women from institutions, and from meaningful forms of economic and social power. 2. Very near-total repression of sexuality generally, and of non-heteronormative sexuality in particular. 3. Anti-Semitism and other forms of legally and socially sanctioned racism. In addition to this Freud witnessed lots of big historical events, many of them tragic. I’m going to run through a few (though certainly not all) of them... 1. The industrial revolution, 2. The sinking of the Titanic, 3. WW I, (gas, machine guns, planes, subs) 4. The 1918 global flu pandemic, 5. The rise of the Nazis, 6.  WW II. All of this gave Freud what you might call, a **rather negative attitude** when it came to how people treat themselves, other people —others who are different in particular, and the environment we all share. In short, Freud’s experiences made him a bit of a **pessimist** when it came to humanity. Having said all that let me bounce back to one of the historical items I mentioned: the rise of the Nazis and WW II. 1. Most of the people who were psychoanalysts were Jewish, smart women, and people who advocated for sexual tolerance (e.g., sex-positive), people the Nazis did not care for. 2. When the Nazis did come to power psychoanalysis was one of the first things they tried to get rid of. (They burned lots of Freud’s books.) 3. Many psychoanalysts were rounded up and killed in concentration camps. 4. But some escaped to Britain, Freud was k Enid those, and others made it to the United States. I’ll talk about what happened to the analysts who took up residence in the UK when I do a podcast on **Object Relations**. Today I’m going to get I think the analyst’s who found themselves here in the **United States**.##The American Context of Ego PsychologyUnlike Europe, which was getting old and curmudgeonly as its global influence faded, America was in its late adolescence or early adulthood. It was young, attractive, and just getting more powerful. One of the things that characterized the American zeitgeist from the 1920s to the early 1960s was a strong belief and emotional investment in a very “positive attitude.” I’d go so far as to say that this is something that has continued into the present day. So, let’s take a critical look at this positive attitude, and some of what it suggests. 1. If you work hard you’ll get somewhat. 2. If you are successful you must have worked hard, or been smart, or had some kind of valuable skill that you were able to sell to those who wanted or needed it. 3. If you’re having a hard time it’s because you’re lazy, not because you can’t make it! 4. There is no value in “feeling sorry for yourself” (call the way-balance, do you want some cheese with that wine, are you going to cry about it?) 5. If you think positive things if you have a positive attitude then good things will happen to you. 6. It is the individual’s personal responsibility to care for their body, their finances, their professional development, their attitude, etc. 7. If things are bad it’s because you have made errors in how you live. Some people have called this the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality that made America great. What this positive attitude overlooks is, something that MLK said... It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.Or to paraphrase MLK’s idea: Before we value people being able to lift themselves up by their bootstraps, **we should realize that there are people who don’t have not been allowed to own boots**.I want this out because ego psychology is a theory that tries to increase a person's capacity to lift themselves up by their bootstraps, it values helping people get better at “fitting in” to their society by getting better at controlling themselves. And while there is value in that, it is important to remedy that society has not, and even now does not, allow everyone the same opportunities to “fit in.” Ok, I’ll get off my soap box now, play some transition music, and then talk to you about ego Psychology’s center am tenants. FunctionsAs the name would suggest, ego psychology puts _the ego_ in the foreground, and the rest of psychoanalytic theory in the blurry background. The aim of ego psychology is to work with patients to **increase the overall functioning of the patient’s ego, to make the patient’s ego stronger, more flexible, and more powerful**. Those who are drawn to ego psychology tend to believe that the ego has a job to do, which is **balance** everything in a way that allows for someone to “keep a grip” on themselves. To keep a good strong grip on the steering wheel of the personality.(Example: In some old movies someone will start to freak out and another character will grab them and say, “Get a grip!” or “Get ahold of yourself!”)When the ego “had a grip,” when it is doing it’s job in a good enough way people behave themselves, they are logical, consistent, and doing things that are more socially acceptable. In short: when the ego is strong and flexible people are able to stay in control of the way they are expressing their thoughts and their emotions. (Note: I did not say control of their thoughts and emotions! We don’t control those, we can control how we display them to the outside world.) To help the ego get strong, to help it keep a firm grip on control. Incidentally, when someone “has a grip” on themselves, they are 1. Behaving themselves (appreciate behavior)2. Working, or going to school (being productive) In effect, they are playing their part within a social system, within a society. Within a capitalist society, this means producing and consuming l. Defenses To help the ego keep a person functioning (to keep them “productive members of society”) the ego tries to keep some unsettling, destabilizing, or anxiety-producing experiences away from your consciousness. Now, when I say experiences I mean literally your ego avoids stuff that freaks you out. For example, I don’t like roller coasters so when people ask if I’d like to go someplace with roller coasters I say no thanks. I do t think about it, I just say nope. However, it is important to remember we also **experience things like memories and emotions (affects) **. We experience or cognition, our thinking about things. For example, you might think about a test you’re not prepared for, or the effects of climate change, or death. Generally speaking, thinking about this is not pleasant. What the ego does to prevent us from experiencing these stressful, painful, or destabilizing thoughts, memories, and emotions is **repress them** into the unconscious. Ego psychologists noticed that repression can take different forms. Sometimes repression is simple or primitive and other times it is more sophisticated or advanced. 1. An example of a simple or primitive form of repression is denial or forgetting. 2. A more sophisticated form would be sublimation or using humor. The ego (as stable identity) is THE defense What our ego does is try to get us to behave in ways that are consistent, it ties to keep us consistent with our social identity.
⌬ Lecture №9 | Attachment
Sep 2 2021
⌬ Lecture №9 | Attachment
Review Ego psychology – Made mainly in America, has the goal of making the individual's ego stronger more flexible. This means increasing what is called ego functioning and become less defensive. This theory relies on the economic model, which postulates that there is a finite and limited amount of energy in our psychological system and that all the things we are doing take energy. Defending ourselves takes energy, and therefore the less energy going into defense can be freed up and put into more productive things and stuff.  Self psychology – Also made here in America, by a dude named Heinz Kohut, who believed that the self is something deeper and more fundamental than our ego. Kohut believed the self is a co-created thing, made by an individual in partnership with the people and institutions in the individual's environment. Kohut also believed our self is never done being formed, that it forms throughout our entire life cycle. Relationships are important in this theory, in particular relationships with people who make us who we are. If we are able to get enough of what we need from those around us we turn out more OK. If we don't get what we need from those around us we turn out more not OK. Now with that review out of the way we are going to jump across the Atlantic Ocean and look at a theory called attachment theory, which started out over in Great Britain. But first some transition music... HistoryAttachment – Let's start by getting into the different attachment styles as three thinkers articulated them over time. First, we have John Bowlby, who theorized something called a secure base, which is necessary for a person to develop a secure attachment. An important thing to realize about secure attachment is that it is not the absence of difficult or problematic emotions! (e.g., Anxiety, sadness, being jealous, frustrated, etc.) Rather, it is a person being able to experience, acknowledge, and then process those emotions in ways that are generally not very destructive. Next, we have Many Ainsworth, who was Bowlby's research assistant, who articulated something called insecure attachment. There are two sub-types of insecure attachment – Avoidant-dismissing and anxious-preoccupied. Ainsworth is also an important thinker for attachment theory because she created something called the Strange situation experiment. This experiment is done when kids are between 9-18 months old. The Strange Situation Procedure is divided into eight episodes, lasting for three minutes each. In the first episode, the infant and his or her caregiver enter into a pleasant laboratory setting, with many toys. After one minute, a person unknown to the infant enters the room and slowly tries to make acquaintance. The caregiver leaves the child with the stranger for three minutes; and then returns. The caregiver departs for a second time, leaving the child alone for three minutes; it is then the stranger who enters, and offers to comfort the infant. Finally, the caregiver returns, and is instructed to pick up the child. As the episodes increase the stress of the infant by increments, the observer can watch the infant's movement between behavioural systems: the interplay of exploration and attachment behaviour, in the presence and in the absence of the parent.Ainsworth also studied attachment in Uganda and other places and helped us to see that attachment is not something that is only a culturally produced phenomena in western cultures (e.g., European / North American).  Mary Main (who is still alive and I think working) articulated the idea of disorganized attachment. She also helped create the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), which I've linked to on the course Moodle page. Some people (I'm one of them) think that disorganized attachment is a better way to think about what we call BPD today. StylesThere are four different attachment styles you should know. Let's review them: Secure – autonomous (Bowlby) Avoidant – dismissing (Ainsworth)Anxious – preoccupied (Ainsworth) Disorganized – unresolved (Main) Additional PointsSome key points that I want you all to know because are not covered in your readings. Attachment theory says that a person's attachment can (and probably will) change throughout the course of their life. This means that it is possible to move from an insecure attachment style to a secure style of attachment. However, it usually happens the other way around. It is not difficult (i.e., it is easy) to take someone from a secure attachment and make them insecure. Trauma leads to insecurity. When we think about trauma, it helps to think of it along with two variables. Trauma can be intense, abrupt and sudden, and short in duration. (Think of getting hit by lightning.) Or it can be low intensity but drawn out over time. (Think of middle school.) In some rare cases, it can be both high intensity and drawn out over time... More on that in a second. Another way we can think about trauma is to compare it to a physical injury. Let's talk about emotional bones and long-drawn-out physical issues. When someone is traumatized, they can heal, but they will always have some scar tissue. They will also always be prone to reinjury of the traumatized area of their lives.
⌬ Lecture №10 | The Relational Turn
Sep 8 2021
⌬ Lecture №10 | The Relational Turn
I want to start with a bit of a disclaimer.There are some psychoanalytic theories I know a lot about and some I know less about. Relational theory is definitely in the latter group. It is a theory that I've only dabbled in but I have not spent nearly as much time with as I have in interpersonal theory, self-psychology, object relations, classical Freudian, or Lacanian schools of thought. Additionally, relational psychoanalysis is a very new theory. It is probably the youngest theory we will be studying in this class. Be that as it may, I've spent some time exploring relational psychoanalysis, and I'm going to do my best to share what I've learned. I hope this will be a good supplement to the content in what you all read for class this week.  What is relational psychoanalysis? It is a school of psychoanalytic thought that was largely created in the United States in the 1980s and focused on integrating the interpersonal style of Harry Stack Sullivan (and to a lesser extent Sandor Ferenczi) with the theory of Object Relations focus on the roles of real and imagined relationships with others on individual psychological functioning. Clinicians who subscribe to relational theory would say that personality emerges from the matrix of early formative relationships with parents and other figures. The theoretical ancestors of the relational theory are The work of Ferenczi. The interpersonal theory of SullivanBritish Object Relations theories, in particular, the theories of Winnicott.  The Self Psychology of KohutIs it more of a style than a theory?I tend to think that it is more of a style, or perhaps a framework, which pulls from several theories, rather than a theory. A style of what, exactly? A style of what I'd call psychoanalytic psychotherapy or applied psychoanalysis,which places the relationship a the core of the psychotherapeutic work. (i.e., The therapeutic work is done through the relationship between the patient/clinician or analyst/analysand.) Relational Psychoanalysis is the term that has evolved in recent years to describe an approach to clinical work that attracts many practitioners in different parts of the world. Although not a hard and fast set of concepts and practices, one core feature is the notion that psychic structure–at the very least, those aspects of psychic structure that are accessible to psychotherapeutic intervention–derive from the individual’s relations with other people. This, of course, is intended as an alternative to the classical view that innately organized drives and their developmental vicissitudes are, at root, the basis of psychic structure. (Source--IARPP, who we ware) A shift to being in relationshipsAccording to the relationalists, the psychoanalysis that comes before the relational turn is focused on the drive (or the drives), and the effects of the drive on how we live, work, and love. Desires and urges cannot be separated from the relational contexts in which they arise. This does not mean that motivation is determined by the environment (as in behaviorism), but that motivation is determined by the systemic interaction of a person and her environment.I would say that this earlier style of psychoanalysis was and is concerned with relationships, but it uses relationships that a person has to understand the ways that the drive and jouissance are playing out in a person's life. The relational psychoanalysts tend to look more at relationships for their own sake, they examine relationships as what matters. Relational psychoanalysts and psychotherapists tend to stress the importance of Using their own feelings (countertransference) to understand what is unfolding between them and the patientBeing authentic and spontaneousThey strive to create a feeling of connection with someone who cares as opposed to a more transferential relationship that can be used to uncover unconscious desires via interpretationSome important thinkers in Relational TheorySandor Ferenczi Harry Stack Sullivan Stephen MitchellJessica BenjaminRobert StolorowBCPSG
⌬ Lecture №11 | Object Relations Theories: An Overview
Dec 17 2021
⌬ Lecture №11 | Object Relations Theories: An Overview
Hello! This is the first of two podcast lectures that will cover Object Relations Theories. You, my astute listener, will notice that I said object relations theories --plural. I did not say theory --singular. This is important! Your text pointed out. Object relations theory is the term that has come to describe the work of a group of psychodynamic thinkers, both in England and the United States. Although almost always written in the singular, object relations theory is not actually a theory, because it refers to the work of many writers who did not necessarily identify themselves as part of any given school ad who often argued and disagreed quite passionately with one another. A note on the textI'm just going to come right out and say this: I think this chapter is not so good because it tried to include too much content. I don't know about you, but for me, the result is feeling like I just rode a roller coaster of theory, where concepts and ideas went whipping past me faster than I could process them. If that's how you feel, I hope that this podcast lecture will help to add to what you read and contextualize it a bit more. I hope that you'll feel like you've got a better grasp of these ideas at the end. ReviewSome of the theories we have already covered use the term object relations. Ego psychology uses it as an ego function. Self-psychology talks about self-objects, which is a version of object relations. Freud talked about drive objects, which would be the object that our drive desires and will pursue no matter what. So, object relations should not be a totally new term. However, object relations theories represent an entire body of thought that takes object relations and makes it the primary focus of psychotherapeutic work. Overview of similarity: Before we get into some specific thinkers, I want to talk about some of the main ideas that I think you'll see in all object relations theories. (You might find these ideas expressed differently from one thinker's work to the next, but I think what the ideas represent is more similar than different.) The term object refers to other people in the world. It is used to differentiate other people from the person who experiences or who is subjected to these other people. For example: In an infant-child relationship, from the infant's perspective, the mother is the object, and the infant is the subject. The infant is subjected to the mother. This is reversed if we look at things from the mother's perspective. Object relations theories tend to focus on the process of a person coming to experience themselves as separate from other people but connected to them through relationships. Not all objects nor all relationships are equal. Some objects and some relationships are more important than other objects. Object relations theory focuses on relationships between people being more crucial to personality development and formation than interpsychic forces, such as drives. Another way to say this would be that we learn how to be who and what we are through being in relationships with other people. The most important others will be our primary caretakers. For better or worse, this early relationship with our caretakers provides the sort of "baseline" or "blueprint" to which other relationships will be compared. Some thinkers, such as Peter Fonagy, have called these relational blueprints "internal working models" or IWMs for short. People create and then continually revise an inner map of how they relate to other people and how others relate to them. This could be as simple as "I don't get along well with so and so." This map is created out of memories, fantasy (and phantasy). My take on Object Relations Theories I think object relations theories get right because relationships are important. Our significant relationships have a massive effect on who we are and what we become over time.  If our relationships are good, if they are not abusive or traumatic, it is far more likely that we will turn out better than if these relationships are abusive and significantly traumaize us. (The Adverse Childhood Experience | ACEs scores matter!) What I'm more skeptical about is this: The idea that a therapist or analyst (with who you will spend not that much time) can correct for damage done. I think it is a theory that might overplay being satisfying to patients, and if the practitioner is not careful, underplay the value of optimal frustration. That's in for this podcast lecture: In the following lecture, I'll discuss specific theorists who produced what we recognize as object relations theories.
⌬ Lecture №12 | Melanie Klein [OPTIONAL!]
Jan 2 2022
⌬ Lecture №12 | Melanie Klein [OPTIONAL!]
Hello, This is the second in a series of podcast lectures on Object Relations Theories. This podcast lecture, and the several that will come after it, will focus on one specific object relations thinker. I hope that this will result in several short podcast lectures that add to what your text had to say about each of these thinkers. I also want these podcast lectures to help those of you who might want to use one of the object relations thinkers in the case study paper that you will be writing for this class. However, I ask that you keep in mind that these podcast lectures are extremely brief summaries of some extensive theory that was developed over many years. So, if something in these lectures gets your attention, I hope you'll then go and do further reading of the thinker's work.  This specific podcast lecture will focus on the work of Melanie Klein, who is the person who I would say is... The thinker who really establishes object relations as a new branch of psychoanalytic thought and practice. And I would also go so far as to say that Melanie Klein is the "mother of psychoanalysis."  Review: For today's review, I want to remind you about something we have covered before in other podcast lectures. I want to remind you of it because it is such an important concept for how object relations theories think about human relationships.  The concept is Transference. After talking about transference, I want to introduce a new but related idea: Phantasy. You will recall in the previous podcast lecture; I talked about how the relationships we have with our parents or whoever our primary caretakers are, for better or for worse, form the blueprint we use to develop all other subsequent relationships. I hope this will remind you of what I said about transference even earlier in the semester. Transference is when we transfer in what? The power differential that existed between ourselves and our parents, or early primary caretakers, into current relationships. Another way we could think about transference is by calling it an effect of a phantasy (spelled with a ph as opposed to with an f). A phantasy is another term used by Melanie Klein, who we will talk about in a moment, to signify a powerful unconscious assumption about the world (meaning the social world) and how we fit into the world. Even though it is called a phantasy, it is important to note that that does not mean it is wrong. Phantasies are usually the result of experiences. KleinFirst, I want to talk about something amazing that Klein did: She was one of the first people to use what we call "play therapy" nowadays, and in so doing she expanded psychoanalysis into a therapeutic modality that could be used with children.  In her work with children, Klein noticed that their play and the toys they used carried important symbolic meaning for them, and that this could be analysed much in the same way as dreams could be analysed in adults. Unlike the psychoanalytically- informed approach to the education and socialisation of children that was [practiced by other analysts working with children], Klein [...] offered her young patients something far closer to adult psychoanalysis. She saw them at set times, just like in adult analysis, and she became more and focused on their fears and anxieties as expressed in their play, and on the defences they used against them. However, Klein did not only work with kids. She did a lot of work with kids, but she also worked with adults. One of the many things that makes Klein's work so interesting is the way that it focused on two very common emotions that people struggle with: Anxiety and Depression. In both instances, Klein's work grows out of Freud's insight on repressed desires. I want to start by exploring Klein's insights on anxiety. [...] Anchoring her theoretical ideas so firmly in her clinical experience [with children and adults], Klein's work demonstrated that her psychoanalytic technique of understanding and interpreting anxieties, especially fear linked with aggressive impulses, could free up the patient and enable further exploration of their inner worlds.In effect, Klein was able to see in children's play and adults' dreams, free associations, slips, etc., a desire to be aggressive. This desire was powerful. However, it was frequently repressed (i.e., it became unconscious). When this desire was repressed, one of the effects was that people were anxious that they might one day lose "control" or "lose their temper," and the repressed aggression would erupt. What is significant about this is the idea that while we can be anxious about external things or scared that something bad will happen to us because of things in the external world. (Example: I'm worried my flight could get canceled because of the weather.) We can also become anxious due to our inner desire to be aggressive (e.g., dominating, controlling, winning, being the best, etc.) The Paranoid-Schizoid Position This idea eventually turned into the concept of the paranoid-schizoid position, which suggests that people have a tendency to see themself and others as sort of broken up into different parts. There is the "good part" of ourselves or others.Then there is the "bad part" of ourselves and others. Klein's theory suggests that when people sense the aggressive or "bad" part of themselves or others coming to the surface, they get scared or anxious. What are they afraid of? They are scared of what they might do if they do what their id (or their "inner child," what Winnicott will call the "true self") wants to do. Or, to put it very succinctly, people are scared they might lose control of themselves and have to see, acknowledge, and then experience the part of them that is aggressive and destructive. Eventually, after Klein became familiar with the work of Fairbairn who we will cover in the next podcast lecture, Klein started to use the term splitting to describe the specific defense used by people who operate with the paranoid-schizoid position. Splitting is where people make one thing (one object) all badto preserve the goodness of another thing (another object) all goodThere are three things I want to point out about the paranoid-schizoid position. First, in this position people will frequently justify their feelings of hate and aggression via a phantasy (ph) that the object (person or group of people) they direct their hatred and aggression (hostility) towards by seeing as a "bad object". Second, I want you to remember that people in this position want to be "all good" all the time. This leads to the paranoid-schizoid position is that when people are in it they are scared of (i.e., anxious about) becoming "bad" by Saying or doing the wrong thingMaking the wrong choiceMaking mistakes in generalThey are worried that "something bad will happen" if they don't do what they need to do, or what they are expected to do, and then that will be the beginning of the end for them... And this results in them being in a sort of "fight, flight, freeze" way of relating to the world on a fairly regular basis, which is, of course, a difficult way to live! Third, and final point is that people in the paranoid-schizoid position see the good and bad aspects of themself and others as separate! It is a sort of black/white and an either/or way of thinking about things. Klein wanted to use psychoanalysis (psychotherapy, clinical work) to help people to move out of, and spend less time in the paranoid-schizoid position. So, if people move out of the paranoid-schizoid position, where do they go? I'm so glad you asked! The Depressive Position Capacity for guilt & therefore reconciliation (Winnicott)Castration is experienced acknowledged and excepted.Self is seen and experienced as both good and bad, something with Marit and flaws.People are seen as a whole (both good & bad)objects
⌬ Lecture №13 | Object Relations: Fairbairn [OPTIONAL!]
Jan 5 2022
⌬ Lecture №13 | Object Relations: Fairbairn [OPTIONAL!]
Fairbairn is one of the more difficult-to-understand thinkers we will be tackling in this class. His work is not easy to read, and I'd even say it is impossible to read if you don't already have a good grasp of Freudian concepts. This is because (I think) so much of what Fairbairn is doing is trying to show what he thinks Freud got wrong.As I prepared for this it became apparent to me that I could talk for several weeks about Fairbairn, but I don't have weeks, so I'm going to do my best to distill Fairbairn's robust thinking into something that might be useful to you.  Freud v. Fairbairn Both Freud and Fairbairn believe the fundamental source of human motivation originates in the unconscious. However, there are two main areas where Fairbairn's ideas are based on Freud's ideas and radically different from Freud's.  Libido (investments of love) – Fairbairn sees it as relationship-seeking rather than drive satisfying.  The Ego (structure) – Fairbairn sees it as a structure that forms...Review: Freud's structural model Freud saw the structure of the human mind divided up in the following way. The id (Fairbairn says this does not exist) The ego The super ego Fairbairn's structural model In my opinion, your text does not do a great job explaining this, so here is my attempt to share with you how I understand Fairbairn's structural stuff.  For Fairbairn our ego is who and what we are, and how healthy or unhealthy our ego (who and what we are) ends up being is totally contingent on relationships with other people.  Central ego (identity) –  This is more like Kohut's "self," the who and what we are in the world we share with other people. Then there is the unconscious part, which has two sub-parts. These are "split off from" which is the term Fairbarin uses instead of repressed. I don't really understand why... Libidinal ego (or internal cheerleader) – An internalized phantasy of a nice, caring, responsive, respectful, naturing, parent... which effectively convinces the person that they can safely try things, and even if they don't work out things won't be a disaster.  Anti-libidinal ego (or internal saboteur) – An internalized phantasy abusive parental sort of thing. The internalized critic, which is constantly telling someone they messed up, they are going to be rejected, or hurt, or some other bad thing. It seems to me, in Fairbairn's model either the libidinal or anti-libidinal ego is dominant. The dominant structure is determined by the sort of relational experiences a person has as an infant, child, and adolescent. Generally speaking...If the person has more good than bad the libidinal ego will be more dominant. The person will have higher levels of self-esteem, more confidence, all that good stuff.  If the person has had more bad than good the anti-libidinal ego will be more dominant, and the person will be more defensive, emotionally unstable, and all that bad stuff. Hopefully, this makes that a little more clear to you because I need to move on to the next topic where Fairbairn was different than Freud. Review: Drives & Satisfactions | Instincts & PleasureFreud saw things this way: Instincts are tied to pleasure, we do what our instincts do, and we feel good. This helps keep a body alive. Human beings and animals have instincts in common. However, people, unlike animals, are not satisfied with pleasure alone. Human beings have a drive, a force that compels them to get something that they don't need but enjoy. Persuing our drives brings satisfaction. Fairbairn on libido as relationship-seekingOne of Fairbairn’s major theoretical developments [that differed from Freud] was his delineation of a psychological model of the mind, departing from Freud’s biological theory, in which the central assumption was that the libido is fundamentally pleasure-seeking. Fairbairn asserted instead that what is primary in us all is our search for relationships, and that this is more urgent than the desire to gratify [drives or] instincts. [...]  the driving force in the human psyche is not in fact the pleasure principle, but a fundamental need to relate to and connect with other objects, i.e. other people. (Source)In effect, Fairbairn is saying people need relationships. The sorts of relationships we need change over time, but we always need relationships with other people to help us live good lives. A life without relationships would be horrible. Fairbairn saw that people always try to connect with other people and form meaningful relationships with family members, mentors, friends, romantic partners, etc. When this works, people tend to be good at regulating their emotions and have less difficulty with life overall. However, when it does not work, people have a very hard time Additionally, Fairbairn noticed a sort of person he called schizoid. These were people who had lived through the tragedy of trying to connect to others. This involved investing libido (love) into the relationship. When the relationship does not work out, that investment is gone. Schizoid people then develop a rich internal (i.e., fantasy) life and invest their libido into that. This is because the idea of investing in relationships and having them not work out again is too much for the schizoid person to bear. Schizoid Personalities & Splitting1940 saw the completion of Fairbairn’s first paper on this subject, ‘Schizoid Factors in the Personality’, and was the beginning of an immensely innovative and creative period. It was this paper – in which Fairbairn coined the term ‘schizoid’ – that would later inspire Klein to alter her ‘paranoid position’ to ‘paranoid-schizoid position’, and that would similarly have a considerable impact on Donald Winnicott’s thinking about schizoid states. This paper also marked the beginning of Fairbairn’s pioneering thinking about borderline states, and their origins in the ‘splitting’ process, a defence against the pain of being rejected by insufficiently attentive parents. [In the paper, Fairbairn] described the child splitting off the emotionally responsive side of his or her parents from the unresponsive side, thereby creating ‘good’ and ‘bad’ objects, and often also splitting the ego into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, a process often leading to borderline states. (Source)This has implications for working with individuals who have what we nowadays call "borderline tendencies" (i.e., PBD). Fairbarin noticed that these individuals had been hurt by relational failures (e.g., abuse, neglect). They have a powerful desire to be in relationships. This desire tends to have the idealize people at first. However, like all people, they brought the damage from prior relationships into their current relationships. When an idealized person fails to live up to the ideal, the person with borderline tendencies sees this as a threat, as "This person is about to hurt me!" so they get incredibly defensive. This leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy—the desire not to get hurt results in relationship failure and more hurt. One thing I want to make clear is that we can't understand what Fairbairn says about schizoid and borderline individuals without understanding something about trauma.  TraumaTrauma's role in personality development, splitting, & the formation of the unconscious Fairbairn suggests that everyone endures traumas, some people experience more intense and longer duration traumas than others, but everyone experiences traumatic experiences during their life. This leads to an important question: What is trauma? Of course, there are many ways to define trauma. Still, for the sake of this lecture, I'm going to say that trauma is an experience that can't be integrated into a coherent, understandable narrative that we use to orient ourselves. Traumas are the things we can't "make sense" of. We try to make sense of them, but we can't. Sometimes our attempts to make sense of trauma lead us to re-enact the trauma. Thus the human psyche acquires structure from the split-off traumas that, if they were understood by the child, would destroy his needed dependency relationship with his parent. Thus they must be  dissociated and remain unavailable to the individual's conscious central ego. In Fairbairn's model the unconscious is not a biological inheritance of humankind,  but rather a conglomeration of memories of parental failures and interpersonal traumas that become internal structures- the building blocks of the human unconscious (see his 1943 paper).And this brings us back to where we started! People with truam have more dominant anti-libidinal ego structures, and people with less trauma (and more pleasant experiences in relationships) have a more dominant libidinal ego.
⌬ Lecture №14 | Object Relations: Winnicott [OPTIONAL!]
Jan 6 2022
⌬ Lecture №14 | Object Relations: Winnicott [OPTIONAL!]
Hi, Welcome to the fourth in a series of podcast lectures, which will focus on the work of Donald Winnicott. This lecture follows lectures on the work of Melanie Klein and Ronald Fairbairn, and I'll be referring back to concepts I talked about in those prior lectures. So, while it is not essential to have listened to those prior lectures, I think this lecture will make more sense (the maximal amount os sense) if you have. Having said that: I want to make something clear right away. I really like Winnicott. He is my favorite in-Lacanian psychoanalyst.Here are a few of the many reasons I think Winnicott, and his work, is so cool. He is funny: The footnote about a revolver in a paper on technique. The story about "inner cows" He says wonderfully beautiful poetic things. "For my patients, who have paid to teach me." "It is a joy to be hidden and a disaster not to be found." He was not afraid to be an emotional man.He was sad for what I think are the right reasons. He would speak in ways that were understandable. Hopefully, this has piqued your interest in the work of this wonderful thinker.  Let's get started... Winnicott was a pediatrician Winnicott was a pediatrician before he became a psychoanalyst. So he knew a lot about how parents (in particular mothers and infants interacted). Some things Winnicott noticed: When a baby is born it is 100% dependent on the mother to survive. Even though the mother and infant are separate bodies, for a time they are still linked by a powerful mental and emotional bond that is not like any other bond. He believed that if this bond was supported by others (fathers, other family members, society, etc.) the result would be the development of a healthy person. He also believed that this bond could not last, that at a certain point the mother and baby would need to separate more. (The baby needed to stop depending on the mother's capacities and start the process of developing its own capacities --such as soothing, eating, talking, etc.) Winnicott knew this would be difficult for both mother and baby, and, again believed the mother and baby needed to be supported throughout this separation process. In many ways, Winnicott (and Klein who supervised Winnicott) brought the figure of the mother into psychoanalysis, which had been very preoccupied with the figure of the father. (See the Oedipus complex.) Next we will do an overview and summary a few of Winnicott's concepts of: The infant's fantasy of omnipotence experienced as if it were realThe good-enough mother (i.e., the good-enough parent, or good-enough clinician, teacher, friend, etc.))Fantasy of omnipotence By making her breast (or bottle) available at the right moment, the mother (or mother substitute) enables the infant to believe that she (or he) has ‘created their own world out of their own need’. The baby then experiences an ‘illusion’:The infant needed to experience this fantasy as real so that it could feel safe, secure, and not be flooded with adrenalin and cortisol as it developed. However, after a certain point this fantasy needed to be left behind.  Failure & the good-enough mother Winnicott discusses what he calls environmental failure at various stages of the child’s (emotional) development. At the earliest stage of infancy, when the child is in a state of ‘absolute dependence’ on the mother, such failure can have very serious effects on later development.Winnicott recognised that ‘the ordinary devoted mother’ was not perfect and would, therefore, inevitably make mistakes in the care of her infant. What she would then do, however, was to make repairs and readjustments in her interaction with the infant.The not good-enough mother (or social worker) can't tolerate negative spontaneous behaviors He describes the situation of ‘not good-enough mothering’ as one in which the mother (consciously or unconsciously) is unable to respond adequately to her infant’s spontaneous behaviour (true self), but tends to impose her own wishes and desires (e.g. for an ‘ideal’ child). This may lead the infant to an adaptation on the basis of ‘compliance’ (false self) and later, in adulthood, to the loss of a sense of personal autonomy and integrity.Moving away from parent/child relationships for a moment – This still happens a lot in many clinical relationships! The effect is the patient creates a "character" they play to please the clinician. (The same way a child plays the part of the sort of child they think their parent wants them to be.) True self & False self However, a degree of false self co-exists with the true self in everybody. Like all defences, a sense of falseness canbe protective of the true self, but it may also become pathologically powerful’ and, at times of stress, lead to breakdown and the need for psychotherapeutic help.The true self is perhaps Winnicott’s most complex idea. He describes it as a necessarily hidden, private and secret part of the personality. It is connected ‘in the person’ with ‘aliveness’ and it is that ‘which gives the feeling of real’.CapacitiesConcern & Guilt - The child can experience emotions like hate, act them out, and then feel bad (guilty) and try to repair what damages have been done by the hate.To be alone - We have to be able to be together before we can be alone.Creativity - The capacity to create enough of what we need and want within the constraints of our lives. One of the ways that Winnicott saw a capacity for creativity is in the creation of transitional objects. The ‘Transitional Object’A security blanket or other special object that a kid and use. Winnicott saw analysts and therapists as transitional objects, and that meant patients would make the analyst or therapist into what they needed them to be (i.e., transference). If all went well, eventually the patient would not need the analyst or therapist, and they could abandon them as a transitional object.
⌬ Lecture №16 | Lacan, Part I: Imaginary, Symbolic, & Semblants
Jan 23 2022
⌬ Lecture №16 | Lacan, Part I: Imaginary, Symbolic, & Semblants
In this podcast lecture, I will discuss some (but definitely not all) of the concepts that make up the much broader field of Lacanian psychoanalysis. I've struggled to prepare for these lectures. I've struggled a lot. I've spent many years working to understand Lacan's ideas and his ideas' effects on psychoanalysis.  I encountered Lacan when I was a doctoral student. He was a massive challenge, most people found him too difficult, but I stuck with it. And I've been at it for years now. For me, Lacan is not new and novel. Thinking as a Lacanian has become natural and normal for me. So, what I'm going to try to do in this podcast lecture is remember that for most of you, Lacan is someone you don't know anything or don't know much about. You're in that new and novel phase that I was in back when I first encountered Lacan as a graduate student. I hope that I'll be able to talk about these concepts in a way that will (1) get you more interested in them and (2) help you get started if you decide to explore this stuff more. It's going to be hard, but I'll try my best. Let's get started. Iterative work... To start with, I want to draw your attention to some of the ways Lacan's work is similar to Freud's work. One of the ways that Lacan and Freud are similar is that they both produced many content. Both Freud and Lacan's ideas change over time; their work is iterative... And they were both clinical theorists. This is a fact --the fact that they were clinicians– is important because for both Freud and Lacan, the work they were doing in the clinic, the work they did with patients, with analysands, was the thing that drove the theoretical work they produced and refined over time.   Phases & Moments Lacan's work can be divided into phases. One of the ways that many (not all) people who study Lacan break up his work is into an early stage that focuses on the imaginary, a middle stage that focuses on the symbolic, and a late period that is focused on the real, within those phases, there are moments.During these phases, Lacan would publish papers, give talks, and conduct a seminar (which we can think of as a class or series of lectures). A specific paper, talk, or a series of lectures in his seminar, would be a moment within one of these more extensive phases.  The First Two Phases & The Big Ideas within Those PhasesThe Imaginary Period: Work from the early phase focuses on how human beings, particularly infants who don't yet talk, form an unconscious and an ego and how they start to "make sense" of what is happening inside and outside of their bodies. One of the ways that I think about this period is that it is interested in forming a coherent identity. The Symbolic Period: In this work's middle or symbolic phase, Lacan focuses on how language (as a symbolic system) and communication/miscommunication affect the human subject. In this phase, Lacan shows how people use language, or a system of signification, to produce what we could call thoughts or complex ways of understanding or "making sense" of their experiences. This phase would interest people who want to understand how thinking about, talking about, or writing about what we have experienced helps us to "process" those experiences. Or, to put it differently, how talking can help to do things likeDe-escalate situationsAttempt to work through complex trauma Or, if you're someone who is into neuroscience stuff, how talking about what has happened to you effects the way the brain is "weird." (i.e., the impact of speech on the body) I tend to think of this period of Lacan's thought as helping to explain how we learn, internalize, and then make use of different systems like Language (how to express one's self and understand how others express themselves)Laws/rules (written laws/rules... "No Trespassing!")Social/behavioral norms (i.e., unwritten rules of society, culture, or family) This is the phase where people have a pretty well-formed identity, and now they want to make sure that identity behaves in the correct way. Anyone really interested in getting all A's is someone with a very symbolic concern. Both the Imaginary & Symbolic Periods: Both of these periods tend to focus on how people create meaning, or how they make sense of things that happen inside of our bodies and outside of our bodies, and how these experiences impact or effect our bodies. Sometimes we can see people combining imaginary identity stuff with symbolic stuff to create what Lacanians often call a semblant (sometimes a semblance). Semblants are powerful creations we use to orient ourselves, to help us determine who we are and where we are going. Some examples of semblance would be Being married Being a mother/father (by giving birth or by adoption) Being a member of a profession. (Some more than others... Police, Doctor, Social Worker, Priest... those would be semblants. Working at Walmart or a call center when you're in high school or undergrad, not so much a semblant.) A lot of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis could be seen as working in or through the imaginary and symbolic, or as working with the meaningful semblants to help a patient re-orient themself and get back to a place where they are StableWhere they can think and talk about what has happened to them, about their thoughts and emotions, about their traumas, etc. Where they can "love and work" with less difficulty. One of the ways I've come to think about working with or through the imaginary and the symbolic is that it is using sessions to take things that are currently not thinkable and not discussable (if you can't think something, you can't talk about it) and, usually slowly, transforming these unthinkable and unsayable things into things that can be thought and then discussed. A very general example: A person comes in to talk about a current problem, they are a workaholic, and this is harming their family. They tell you about this, and you ask questions, get them to associate (explore what ideas and concepts come to mind when they think about their work). The person starts to talk about how their parents worked so much and left them alone, how they got scared, and how they felt with their fear by doing homework or cleaning the house, or some other form of work. And interpret what you hear them saying by pointing out that they have successfully used work to not feel scared. The patient then says, "I never thought of it like that, but yeah." Then you might ask, "Are you possibly using work to avoid feeling something now?" And then you and the patient discuss this thing that has been lurking in an unrealized, unthought, (repressed?) way and turned it into something that can be thought about and talked about!    If one can do this, I think it can (and usually does) have a curative or therapeutic effect on the patient. The Real Will be covered in a future podcast lecture.