"Using a Jungian inheritance of lack and loss: psychosomatic infection, mourning and irony in the analysis of borderline relations."
I am going to concentrate on Jung’s distinctive and idiosyncratic ‘difference’; his kinship with Freud and the latter’s influence is implicit. I shall also be utilizing an old (previously published) case. I hope this will be alright for today’s theme.
Let me open by laying out my aim and intent,, the essentials of what I am going to say: I am going to concentrate today on Jung’s idiosyncratic difference; his short, intense, creative kinship with Freud, Freud’s influence on Jung, as well as Jung’s very separate mind; I shall also utilize a previously published case. So what follows are my current prejudiced generalizations and projections, as well as my interpretations, arising out of my experience of the post-Jungian inheritance … within the relevant history of psychodynamic theory and clinical practice. I shall go on to try to earth these psycho-historical and political ‘judgements’ down into their practical transformations through work with borderline patients. This joining of the biographical and historical with the clinical is not an easy fit, but I hope that this talk may demonstrate a link, at least by inference.
Although I shall not be elaborating much upon this crucial aspect of Jung’s creative work, I think I should state that, in my opinion, his scholarly erudition in the field of cultural symbolism and comparative mythology and the fact that he created a hermeneutic system which applied this research to the pluralism of psychic reality and psychological relevance, was the product of imaginative and intellectual genius. It has lead on to what are now many rich and fertile developments in post-Jungian clinical and academic thought. Furthermore the current post-Jungian re-thinking and re-application of the clinical relevance of archetypal theory and symbol formation in the context of their relations to neurobiology and emergence theory is of topical import. This Jungian tradition of a particular investigation of the symbolizing function is the ‘sine qua non’ to and from which all further critical comment moves.
Having planted that flag, I can now proceed … critically.
Jung’s psychology, by which I mean his personal and his public psychology, that is both his psychopathology and his constructed system of psychological management, understanding, modeling and practice, was partly motivated by his own problematically internalized family losses (sister), failures, disappointments (father), and angry depressions. Jung was an Oedipal orphan and his childhood was one of existential loneliness and isolation, which he sometimes filled by magical retreats and rituals in order to neurotically manage his lost good objects. These evolved into fiercely epistemophilic, intellectual and imaginative ways of dealing with his beliefs and problematic doubts, his desires and fears … and especially a sense of his odd difference. These issues were later re-constellated in subsequent creative and destructive relationships … with, inter alia, father-rival Freud. Their split, which because it was never mourned, got stuck as a professional familial splitting … at least it still is for some Jungians and, for all I know, it is too for some Freudians. Perhaps though this issue has long been transcended by time, events and separate cultural developments. We belong now to our own professional-tribal societies, or at least in our different adjacent villages. Perhaps we do well enough without too much of each other, and we are anyhow fully occupied with own local matters. But I wonder.
Similar tensions and conflicts recurred in Jung’s sometimes over-close and stimulating, sometimes didactic, sometimes detached relations with his psychotic and borderline patients, with his pupils and followers, with the men and women in his professional life, with his erotic triangles, and with his own solitary self. If you are interested in this history you can read it in Deirdre Bair’s thoroughly researched and critically balanced 2003 biography of Jung.
These loves, losses, power-relations and angry splits have now become our professional Jungian intergenerational inheritance … and so, our ongoing post-Jungian task … very much including our having to go on mourning and repairing where necessary the rupture of relations between Jung and Freud and their extended families. There was and still is something of this loaded family inheritance moving my own initial attraction to Jung, my training, in my disillusionments and struggles with or against such identity, in my practice and my analytic work with difficult borderline persons.
I shall be arguing that the analysis of personality disorders is an inherently Jungian zone of clinical interaction: Jung went through his own near-psychotic phases, he was a hospital psychiatrist as well as one of the early 20th century psychoanalysts working in a pioneering and inevitably unconventional (i.e. transferentially alarming) way. I mean working, thinking and feeling his way through the bizarre contents and difficult relational worlds of psychotic as well as neurotic patients. Jung theorized out of his experience with his own and other’s near-psychotic and psychotic matters. This means he developed his thinking out of work with structural disorder and with the confusions and frustrations of early trauma and stuckness which harms the development of the symbolizing function, where fantasy and reality, or image, idea and impulse are unprocessed, unsorted, undifferentiated, and so are confused. This is the stuff of affective personality disorders, where unthinkable emotions are somatized or acted out destructively, destroying all possible good and meaning.
One interpretive take on Jung’s psychological ‘Weltanschaaung’ is that he constructed a defensive and de-personalizing system by ‘archetypalizing’ primitive objects (and part-objects), stemming from his experience of early damage, repeatedly unmet and frustratingly thwarted needs, abandonments, and perhaps also a schizoid defense against envy, anger and hate.
(Such processes can be seen for example in his dropping of his cousin Helene Preisswerk, his turning of Sabina Spielrein (his Burgholzi patient, then protégé and then at some level an acted-out embodiment of heroic-tragic Wagnerian love), Toni Wolf and others, turning them into a used ‘anima objects’; in his defensive imposition of mythic and alchemical meanings onto the familial and transferential contents and projections of many patients, in his mythic interpretations of the fantasies of Miss Miller, and others.)
We can see disturbing psychic storms and unconscious forces of disruption in his presentations in his autobiography, “Memories, Dreams and Reflections”, of his own early dreams and fantasies: for example the dream of an underground giant penis-god and the vision of God destroying Basel cathedral by shitting on it, Father-God’s own angry potent turd.
These may be understood as archetypal images of the necessary dark side of god and/or a creative chthonic god; or we can see them as a necessary manifestation of the transcendent function; or they are about split-off bad feelings and the emergence of ambivalence, or the phantasies of a murderously envious Kleinian baby with a monstrous witch-mother, or symbolic representations of unresolved Oedipal desires and fears.
The case I am going to mention shortly also involves a dream of the destruction of a cathedral, and my own interpretations of a subsequent acting-out are very particular to my understanding of borderline defenses; this is where the issue of analytic responses to near-psychotic transferential impulses is always challenging and urgent. Whether there is anything distinctly Jungian or post-Jungian in this area … or not … is the moot point here today.
I think that Jung created more of a ‘school of psychological wisdom’, a type of psychological grand narrative, arising out curiosity and the comprehension of confusion, rather than a school of suspicion and hence of subtle clinical technique. For Jungians the latter has been developed through clinical experience over the years but mixed with a necessary incorporation of middle group, Klein and post-Kleinian work. However most crucially Jung did investigate disturbances of the symbolizing function and therefore contributed profoundly to our understanding of the symbolizing process and function in general, and thereby too he revealed a particular place for a radical understanding of imagination and madness.
Sometimes his emphasis on the primacy of subjective internal imagos, sub-personalities or complexes, can seem overly intra-psychic, too solipsistic, an emphasis on content and so a preclusion of internalized relational forces and hence of deeply patterned responses and reactions which are re-constellated and repeated through later (and transferential) desires and defenses. For many of us, Jung’s definitive names for some of these general psychic parts (anima, animus, shadow etc) are now both too un-particular and impersonally general, and so are a useless or deadening language. Perhaps though here again this privileging of the intra-psychic was partly conditioned by his experience of severely psychotic and schizophrenic patients, rather than of more normal neuroses? I wonder.
Then there are the gains and losses of the myths wherein Jung chose to find meaning. He challenged (for a variety of personal and objective reasons) the primacy of the Oedipal, with myths of death and re-birth, with myths of the mother/dragon–slaying hero, and later with alchemical models of transferential psychic transformation. The gain here was and is a certain pluralism, a breadth of imaginative possibilities; the loss however is that the baby … and indeed the family … was thrown out with the bath-water: there is no real Jungian baby, and we have had to search hard to find and create a comprehensive and comprehensible Jungian family. For Jung and thence inter-generationally for us (and I’m referring here to lineages and divisions in the training family) there was sometimes more schism than integration: a defensive formation of splitting goods and bads … rather than an incorporation/integration of disappointments and disillusionments and so of depressive ambivalence, healthy skepticism and a sense of irony. Too much false knowing, not enough ‘not-knowing’, too much unforgiving hurt, not enough mature acquiescence.
The classical Jungian method of amplifying and archetypalising psychic material, especially images, dreams and fantasies, rather than interpreting and linking them to current relations and so to the forces of unconscious personal history, could sometimes be used to defensively re-inforce the patient’s and the analyst’s grandiose narcissistic defenses. It was thought to be helpful for a person to learn that their unconsciously derived imagery and phantasy was ‘typical’ and belonged to a deep universal and historical psychic patterning. My clinical experience has been that beyond an initial narcissistic searching for and identification with idealized self-objects, people are often not helped at all by such an inflated and impersonal bolstering of false self-ideation, that people both need and want an observation and analysis of their personal and idiosyncratic internalized family demons and wounds, and so to slowly get to dare see and feel their way through their illusions, delusions and self-defeating defenses, and thence develop their own mind through the analyst’s separate mind, interpretive knowing and realistic ‘not-quite-knowing’.
Jung and some Jungians value numinous, affectively-laden images and other affective objects as the demonstrable reality and validity of religious experience; this is a very primitive and naïve idea of religious or spiritual value; again it is content-driven, overly intra-psychic, not apparently relational, and it lacks critical reason and healthy skepticism.
It can be an over-valuation of passive numinosity and inflated spirit at the expense of ratio-centric or a more pluralistic value ethics; it tends to reify and to hypostetize unconscious mentation into ‘intentional beings’ and ‘internal units’ rather than psychic conflicts enmeshed in a tangle of early relational desires and defenses; this can preclude a healthy naturalism which decentralizes the unhealthy narcissistic assumption of consciousness as some sort of teleological goal.
Neville Symington has reminded me of the politically dangerous inference of Jung’s assertion (which is anyhow philosophically erroneous) that “the numinosum, the outer reality, is identical with the ‘consentium gentium,’ which in its turn is an objective reality” (see further in Symington’s “Emotion and Spirit” 1994).
Finally, there is Jung’s politically naïve and very ill-timed use of an idea of racially conditioned psychic difference: this remains a hard or impossible aspect to integrate. Jung is not an all-good self-object … but then, nor does he need to be … now.
Having said that I can now return to the more valuable inheritance of Jung. His emphatic evaluation of psychic reality was and still is a radical corrective to over-simple, crude materialism; his openness to savagely primitive shadow imagery and acted-out impulses, (the stuff of the murderous Kleinian infant), in other words the psychotic worlds of his psychotic patients (and perhaps of himself), and his interpretations and elaborations on such relations, is a vital inheritance, I think.
I personally appreciate and enjoy the fact that his hermeneutic mind was critically steeped in the German tradition of Kantian and post-Kantian Idealism, and although I have an ongoing debate with Jung’s re-visioning of this system, especially with his Hartmannesque impositions of a purposeful teleology onto what were I think more naturalistic, neutral and therefore useful understandings, on the other hand I consider the Herderian Pluralistic foundation of this Idealist-Romantic intellectual and cultural ancestry, to be a corrective to fundamentalist reduction … it underpins and can help motivate the ethical value of not siding with the defensive comforts of distorting theoretical dogma. This ancestry has become a part of my own intellectual structure, the skeleton and the “body-of-thought” that contributes considerably to my active reverie and even part of my (perhaps defensive) way of thinking through of interpersonal beta disorder.
I value the way Jung lived through, knew and recycled his own familiar madness and made it useful to his affective and effective understanding of a range of psychotic and neurotic pathologies. Although his theories often do not mate with my clinical experience, I appreciate his capacious, erudite and often radical depth and scope of psychological vision, and his example of how to meet openly, to think and imagine constructively through the realities of psychotic and psychosomatic metaphysics, in particular with personality disorders.
So much by way of a personal edition of the post-Jungian world. In order to prevent these interpretations becoming just a parlour game, I would like to relocate us into the here and now of analytic practice, in particular to a zone in which I think, as I have said, Jungians are well suited: borderline relations.
I am using the term ‘Borderline’ to describe the psychopathology of persons for whom developmental lacks and failures have caused an inability to differentiate fantasy and reality, inside and outside, self and other, to understand their own mind-body relations, the peopled world and inter-actions within it and so how to feel, think and/or behave functionally. They are often in a chronic and acute state of mind-body confusion and their personal and interpersonal relations and behaviours are pre-symbolic/anti-symbolic, destructive and psychosomatically disordered and disordering.
In such defeated conditions, these persons impulsively act out. They cannot tolerate frustration and their fantasy of omnipotent control of others (and the world) leads to impulsive destructive/self-destructive behaviour. Although their omnipotent expectations compensate for their impotence arising out of an unmediated primary lack and defeat, it is also so murderously angry that it is paradoxically highly potent in its destructiveness, infectiousness and / or seductiveness. These impulses and acts may desire global as well as personal annihilation; it is an urge is so defiant of or blind to self-preservatory strategic thinking that it determinedly wants the ultimate angry agency of self-destruction and suicide.
These psychotic-like states and relations can be understood developmentally as emerging from intra-uterine psychic distress and from an early lack of maternal/family emotional connection. The result is a psychosomatic attachment or non-attachment, in which parental relations to the infant / child, to each other and to the peopled world, are psychologically autistic. Parental absence is compounded by their own Oedipal confusion, and so also by their inability to mediate an over-sensitive infant’s / child’s mass of experience. There is a desperate and perennial grief at such fundamental, original emotional lack and disorder, rather than losses that can be mourned; under the acted-out rage there is abject grief and existential loneliness.
Unmediated early psychosomatic and inter-personal relations, are thereby stuck at what Jung called ‘the psychoid level’, the primitive pre-differentiated core in which psyche and soma are one, where body-sense, idea and image and all bodily relations ‘make’ the emotional mind, a pre-verbal and anti-verbal zone of experience, not yet managed by the symbolizing function. Such raw psychosomatic relations are intolerably frustrating, unthinkable and unspeakable.
Outrage at this ‘fate’ is projected into mother / other / analyst / all relationships. This is often a non-verbal or pre-verbal communication at a 'psychoid' level, through psychosomatic infectious, contagious and coercive forces. Toxic projective identifications can often be the only form of intra- and inter-psychic expression, communication and management of the tense relations between defences (splitting), attack (shitting and splitting), need (hunger), and communication (invasion / seduction). These identificatory processes stem from and work at a primitive psychosomatic level, affecting the body-mind of self and other.
Jung, with independent prescience, recognized this mutually shared, inter-subjective psychic field as a third aspect of the analytic relationship in and through which both persons are changed. It is implicit in much of his theoretical thinking and becomes explicit in ‘The Psychology of the Transference’ (1946), in particular in the Introduction to that essay. This clinical idea has been considerably elaborated upon by several Jungians in for example hypotheses of an embodied counter-transference, a contagious and consubstantiating animating-psychoid body etc.
Such hypotheses are not dissimilar to Balint’s ‘harmonious, interpenetrating mix-up’, Ogden’s idea of the ‘coercive pressure of the “subjugating third” in which both of us are changed’, and to Britton’s “triangular space.”
My point is that this immersion is largely experienced via bodily impact on the analyst and analysand. The analysand expresses the confusion of the analytic relationship via embodied enactments and body-based symbolization.
For the analyst the issue is how to retain the analytic functions of thinking-linking- alpha-functioning, imagination and reverie in these difficult, dangerous and very disturbing conditions.
Finally, and to link this into that particular area of post-Jungian thinking around emergence and the symbolizing function that I mentioned at the beginning, the Jungian analyst Jean Knox argued in an important 2004 Journal paper, ‘Archetypes and the reflective function’ that ‘psychic content and structure emerge from the interaction of genes, brain and environment’; I think we can now say of borderline persons that the affects of their lacks, together with their attendant psychosomatic symptoms, defences and imagery, ‘become structural’.
For example … “Jim” was an ostensibly aggressive bisexual sadomasochistic skinhead, with very conspicuous tattoos. He was in repeated trouble with the police, mainly for vandalism. He lived out a chaotic, compulsive, destructive and self-destructive sexuality that was split: between homosexual encounters in which he took a masochistic position and sadistic enactments with women.
Jim never knew his f real father, knew his step-fate all-too-intimately, a mother who was apparently caught up in OCD anxiety or was ( to as he put it) ‘medicated into a robotic nobdy.’
To enable him to stay with me, with the analytic relationship, was for some time a major endeavour. I had to be very firm with boundaries and (initially) give clear and simple interpretations (which were always spat out with contemptuous disgust), but also to be tolerant of his necessary verbal abuse and intimidations of me.
Jim came into my (analytic) world in order to explode noisily and messily. Initially he aroused in me a stomach-churning fear: I felt that he strongly out-testosteroned me. After every savage attack on or into me he would say “But I really do love you for Fuck’s sake”, surely thus well expressing the sheer conflict of desire, frustrated need, impossible love, hate and desperate attack: a defensive mocking attack, the sadism of weak power, the precarious humour that arises out of hurt humiliation; but which is at depth actually a perverse false intimacy stiving for reality and trust.
Jim’s angry destructiveness was motivated by an abject lonely anguish around his experience of fundamental defeat, primary lack, family defeat and confusion. Our achievement was that he stayed with me for over seven years, and that he did not kill himself or anybody else and that he/we developed a real and memorable analytic love-hate.
Jim’s cathedral dream:
‘I am screwing a Gothic cathedral through its west doors, holding on to its outstretched arms, transepts I think they are called. It is a very spiky, sharp and painful body to have to fuck. I know that if I screw it really violently and hard it will soften up. So I do this, but as it becomes softer it feels wet and disgusting… like a girl. I loose my erection and can’t come. Then suddenly this foul wet cunt-cathedral disappears from beneath me. It becomes nothing. I am now nowhere, so I know I’ll just have to explode … but of course this will have no effect in empty space.’
The morning after this dream Jim went and, as he put it, ‘pissed and yelled my guts out in a church. I mean what else could I do?’ When he told me of this, I said, ‘You do that here.’ He replied furiously and with contempt, ‘No! I did it there, dickhead; Get it!’ And then too, “I love you for fuck’s sake.”
Action (acting out) is the only realisation and expression of how matters are when there is no symbolic ‘as if.’
Over the next several years he exploded many times, in many bloody ways. If I wasn’t apparently affected enough, he’d disturb our universe again until I was psychosomatically affected.
Jim's sexual destruction of the Gothic cathedral is both a destruction of me (mind and body) and of the transcendent function between us and/or of any depressive possibilities. Whatever unconscious contents and processes there seem to be, vaporise and become nothing: so in effect there is no accessible unconscious. Hence instead of symbolization there is somatization and an invasive attack on his own and my body-mind.
And, by the way … or perhaps not ‘by the way’ at all … Jim could not consciously have known that gothic architecture is a passion of mine.
When the analysis had to end … because I emigrated (not because of him) … he gave me a painting (by himself) of a cathedral ... but torn in half!
I was able to understand Jim's disturbed and disturbing mind as a bizarre representation of a radical metaphysics of mind-body identity relations. The cathedral dream is the stuff (literally) of his internal and external relations, of our ‘rough trading’ in primitive body meanings, in body fears and desires, powers and impotencies, where our bodies are used as, and indeed become, ‘our mind.’
A psychotic, borderline or pathologically narcissistic person who feels that they are ‘basically damaged goods’ may think, feel and angrily expresses their urgency something like this:
“For me mind and body, fantasy and reality, inner and outer, my mind and your mind, my body and your body, you and me, are and must always be fused and undifferentiated, all one … (but of course you must simultaneously sort out my confusion) …
So realise that your mind is my mind, your body is my body.
Because I am starved of enough of anything good and have never had the necessary power to get the primary love I should have had and still need … make it be that you loved me back then … even though you did not, love me now … even though you do not, love me forever … even though you never shall. Because I love you it is outrageous and intolerable that you do not love me back, and for this I hate you, and because of this I will forcibly affect you.
I shall get into and posses your separate body-mind by infecting you psychosomatically. I shall confuse your thinking, attack your linking, somatize your symbolizing function.
My anger knows no bounds.”
From the other side, my mind might be based on an internal position something like this:
“The necessary and ethical law of this human world is … No, you cannot have it all (me, others, parents) as you will; you cannot make me disclose my separate private self to your devouring knowledge, for that would preclude necessarily frustrating fantasies; you cannot make me, by force or seduction, love you in the way you wish. There is a limiting frame that others (me now) do and shall embody: a law of the Fathers, of the frustrating but necessarily carefully containing parents.
Your fantastic desires and hates are now for us to understand. So I shall use my separate thinking mind and reflect before I act.
Indeed, your anger recognizes no boundaries. But my boundaries and the world’s necessities are actually your truest gain : an apprehension of free necessity. ”
Thus the analytic frame holds the ostensibly unwanted but the inwardly called for, a healthy clarification and way out of psychosomatic confusion and disorder caused by the wrong Oedipal victories.
In analysis with ‘borderline beta matters’ the analyst is often made to have or ‘be’ the mind, brain, body and the neurological energy for and of the other … and thence to have to actively feel, think, link, imagine and interpret our way through psychosomatic blocks and pains.
Winnicott wrote in “The Philosophy of the Real”: ‘Babies who have experienced a good enough maternal meeting of their needs can recognize the essential aloneness of the human being. Eventually such a baby grows up to say, ”I know there is no direct contact between external reality and myself, only an illusion of contact.... I couldn’t care less that there is a philosophical problem involved.” Then ‘Babies with slightly less fortunate experiences are really bothered by the idea of there being no direct contact with external reality. A sense of threat of loss of capacity for relationships hangs over them all the time... the philosophical problem becomes ... a matter of life and death, of feeding or starvation, of love or isolation.’ Thirdly, there are the ‘more unfortunate babies whose early experience of having the world properly introduced were confused (and who therefore) grow up with no capacity for illusion of contact with external reality; or their capacity is so slight that it breaks down at a time of frustration and schizoid illness develops.’ I am talking about these third-type babies.
I would now say that fierce, beta-disordered personality defenses are a necessarily aggressive defense against an even more intolerable depressive anxiety: the fear of autistic-like emotional absence, an objectless space.
This is ‘a possible universe’ even more awful than the vortex of the psychotic black hole. Perhaps it could be called an ‘impossible non-universe.’ It manifests symptomatically as autistic-like blank states and/or catatonic dissociation. To risk over-extending the cosmic metaphor, the psychotic core of borderline disorder is like the spinning mass around an active black hole; the person can be sucked and suck others into this mad vortex, or be spat out into an autistic void of ‘non-being and disintegrating anxiety’ (Hobson).
In destructive borderline states and pockets, psychotic projective identifications are the most effective system for the urgent preverbal communication of psychic and psychosomatic pain and distress, as well as of impotent need, desire and love, of overwhelming anger, of fearful fragmentation and destruction. Such emotional states are projectively communicated by making them attackable ‘out there’, the bad analyst, the other as withholder -- but really the safe-keeper -- of the self.
Let me make it clear that we cannot project the soma … (that is a category error). We can however split off and desperately/defensively project or spit unbearably painful (unmanageable) emotions into the hated/loved other/mother. This is a manoeuvre to self-defensively rid oneself of these emotions and to communicate them into the experience of the other so as to have them met, contained and managed. It is therefore often necessary to induce in an other (the analyst) the appropriate somatic responses that belong to these angry but impotent emotions. I can then try to reflect upon the psychosomatic matters that I receive, some of which may be processed into interpretations and fed back.
It is my own zones and forms of psychosomatic vulnerability that are affected, my zones of idiosyncratic emotional and physical sensitivity that are open to being disturbed and moved. Counter-transferential information is received through my psychosomatically ‘weakest’ and most problematic areas. These are my ‘strongly’ reactive areas from which I am made to work. This is another way of saying that a wounded healer actually heals through his/her particular wounds, or rather his/her survival, management and recycling of his/her wounds and madnesses. As Santayana said of what he called ‘normal madness’, ‘sanity is madness put to good use’... (which I think is also a good enough definition of a proper training and indeed of analysis.)
Working in these relations is not about analytic subtlety; it is more often about the doing of rough tough stuff. It challenges the capacity to think at all rather than engage complex reflexive thought. And sometimes it feels to be more a matter of survival than an issue of careful interpretation, especially since all good interpretations are going to be enviously resented and rubbished.
There seem to be several metaphors for the experience of being in a shared atmosphere of such primitive, destructive, borderline matters and relations. They include: invisible, psychic projectiles; psychosomatic infections and contagions; a numbing or paralyzing environmental nerve gas which stops ongoing functions, above all thinking and speaking; invasion and possession by alien forces; being ambushed or attacked by a terrorist; being coerced; being overpowered; being poisoned; being seduced by nearly irresistible inducements and ‘magic’ charms; excessive sexual pressures, pulls, intrusions and suctions; an excessive tension of jouissance; a universal anti-mind of chaotic ‘beta bits’ whose confusing fragments are maddening. All these are, for the terrified and therefore terrorist-like borderline baby -bomb, the only form (or de-form) for urgently needed and effective communication, the making and sharing of intolerable disorder which has somehow to be understood and (for the baby part) ‘sorted out’ by the analyst/analysis. Or rather, (as I said earlier). observed, moved, grieved, perhaps mourned and made a memory .
(Through my embattled functional thinking, I am made to ask myself a series of questions: What sort of tactical or strategic mind-game arising out of what sort of internalised family relations is being re-made here? What sort of baby? What sort of desire and fascination, what disgust and repulsion? What sort of dance of frantic dependence/defiant distance, what rhythms and arrhythmic jolts am I being made to negotiate? In my proto-mammalian and reptilian brain, through my autonomic nervous system, what sort of primitive creature communications am I, as a maternal receptor, being made subject to here? And how is this affecting my autonomic and indeed my auto-immune system? And thence, how and when should I react, inter-react, (interpret) with such an abject 'anti-person'? This entails active body-mind thinking through feelings within the cultural environment of the animating third created between and around us. However such analytic health and strength is of course enviable and so open to further aggressive destructive challenge.)
However, should the other person be able to get right into the unity of my system, or get my system to attack itself, then I am open to a malignant psychosomatic catastrophe. This can no longer be understood only as a psychotherapeutically viable form of communication, so I would now say something like, ‘It is better for both of us if you stop trying to kill me. I’ve got the point, whether you believe it or not’: a healthy and necessary self-preservation, a law of the fathers, a limit to my availability, the reality of our separateness.
But this is too neat. Because actually even when the good therapy and the bad therapist are destroyed, and so when destructiveness has won absolutely, just so, the therapy and the therapist must and do go on. As Michael Fordham pointed out, the defeated analyst is not allowed to end the therapy, because his/her self- preservation is not a preservation of the patient’s split-off self that is hidden invisibly inside that battered therapist. This is indeed like a poison that the analyst is made to stomach and to have the health and strength to survive; and thus is the transference and counter-transference of split psychotic ‘bodymind’ relations always and necessarily a painful psychosomatic problem, variously recyclable… or fatally repetitive.
Borderline persons never go gently into any good, but they may develop a certain psychic muscle which can bear more realistically the repeated punches of (the laws of) internal and external realities, of ultimately un-fillable loneliness, of social liminality, and of often being hated back … and simultaneously even enjoy this use of emotional muscle.
Perhaps the only possible change is an achievement of irony: a knowledge which is simultaneously sad and joyous, depressing and elating, an ironic view of realities and relations in which we both know that there is a limit to how (and how much) we can know ourselves and each other. Irony implies a true sense of scepticism. Thereby I suggest it also incorporates a healthy sense of psychic freedom in the face of the fact that we are actually somatically, environmentally and contingently over-determined: an integration and acceptance of personal and impersonal ‘necessities’… And at least a change of active attitude towards violent destructive impulses: the philosopher David Wood has recently argued that ‘negative capability is the antidote to violence.’ However even to talk of irony, ambivalence, skepticism, ’free necessity’ and negative capability, means to have moved beyond grief into mourning, remembrance and recreation. Including mourning the gains and failures of the analysis. In fact though, for some, destruction still has to go on and this precludes any such possibilities.
And just how is all this idiosyncratically Jungian/post-Jungian? I am not sure, but to an extent it comes out of a particular heritage of re-cycling madness and putting it to better use … whilst never losing sight of the metaphysics of the psychotic core. As Jung said, ‘the wholeness we can reach is very relative.’ Psychic transformation is limited by the body, the brain, family as fate, by the deep structures, unconscious desires and fears of the individual, by internal and external relations. These relations have to do with our tactical and strategic management of passionate and lost loves, hurts and hates, realities and laws, powers and frustrations, of psychosomatic pleasures and pains, of a ‘jouissance’ that is a relational force but which also accommodates separateness and separation, the pleasure of reasoning and its limits, and the imagination that makes for temporary but necessary meaning.