Childhood Victims of Abuse: Paths for the Tormented Mind?
Mary O'Shea is a childhood victim of incest and torture who was unaware of this until reaching forty years of age. She had a catholic upbringing. In her youth she devoted herself with total commitment to causes for victimized minorities, joining extreme political movements concerned with liberating the oppressed. After her fortieth birthday the crisis came. She was divorced with two children to take care of, a first-born boy and a girl. She found herself in places without remembering how she had gotten there. She found herself having spent or lost money without remembering how. Her blood pressure approached the danger of life limit. She left her office work and went into therapy.
Gradually and painfully, step by step, the dreadful secret of her lost and abused childhood were uncovered. She became aware of having suffered sexual abuse and torture by her father during early childhood while her mother turned her eyes away. During the first two years of her life there appeared to have been an intimate and good caring relationship to her father. But from about two years of age, the sexual abuse started, and, later, torture. The original closure with her father was horribly perturbed and perverted into a constant nightmare, from which there were nowhere to hide. Fortunately, a newborn child arrived in the family, and while she continued to be her father's victim, she managed to endow loving and protective care to her younger sibling.
Entering into the therapeutic process she re-experienced the torture in nightmare dreams, and forced herself to realize some of the abuse that the hurt child inside had suffered. Her terrible rage became directed at her male therapist. Her despair, terror, and rage were expressed in the poetry she wrote. But there were also expressions of beauty, poetic lines reflecting longing and love. She retained the close relationship of mutual care and comforting with her youngest child, while there were clashes with the older one. She found other companions also, most of them females, some of them how have themselves suffered abuse, whom she felt she could trust.
After three years of therapeutic conversations, the therapist broke the connection. She experienced an acute sense of betrayal, while desperately seeking for a replacement. She thought of suicide after lived moments of felt betrayal, accompanied by feeling of guilt. Finally, a female therapist, focusing upon the body and specializing in bodily touch offered her to help herself. Now, she is back in work in a part-time job while continuing her process of recovery, and sometimes providing help to other victims of child abuse. She has found also a female psychologic professional with whom she feels secure. Her spells of amnesia are less frequent. Her blood pressure is below the danger level, albeit she still takes medications for it, provided by her physician, a woman who has been her continuous support during most of this period. Uncovering the lifeworld of her lost childhood and creating a new one, she feels to have come in contact with the victimized child in herself. But this also evokes childhood memories that continue to haunt her. For example, going to sleep when having caught a coughing cold, feeling her through being contracted when laying her head to the pillow, she may feel her father coming to strangle her. Yet, uncovering the dreadful secrets of her childhood and finding to confidence to relate to others in a new manner, she is on the path of creating a new life for herself and her children, albeit it has cost her dearly.
The path that Mary O'Shea found is entirely of her own doing. Other victims of childhood abuse may be driven onto other paths, and those who recover may do so in various different ways. In this chapter, written with great reservations, I shall venture some reflections about some of the possible paths that victims of childhood abuse may come to adhere to. I shall refer to Object-Relations theory, to Stern's distinctions between different senses of self, and to the different domains distinguished in part one. With an eye to psychotherapeutic practice and the issue of narrational reconstruction of the past some successful clinical practitioners' views will be cited about ways of listening to the internal voices of the tormented mind.
The multiple voices of the minds of child abuse victims
The numerous victims of child abuse bear witness - to the extent that they are able to recall or speak about it - of the prevalence of abuse, sexual and otherwise, of the ultimate defenseless victim, the infant and the young child. This torture and abuse occur in closed confinements hidden from others and from the society at large. The abusers are ordinary parents, caretakers, who relatives who go about their daily life in a socially acceptable fashion as moral and responsible citizens. And yet, some of them commit unbelievable acts against the child or children in their "care". Sexual abuse and physical and mental torture of children occur in the hidden and intimate society in which the child victims, as a part of the abuse, are compelled not to tell others about it, and even comes to acquire a feeling of guilt about the abuse. Like the abuser who is unable to face the atrocity that he or she commits, denying any internal dialogue through divorcing the self and virtual other, so the child victim may attempt to do away with the atrocity in her mind by divorcing herself from the evil and pain committed in her companion space by the actual other. Vicious circles are sometimes evoked and maintained: Sometimes the victim of childhood abuse may become an abuser. Sometimes the victim of sexual abuse, having divorced herself from the body that has been abused, may come to offer this estranged body for others to take advantage of.
Children who are the victims of abuse, sexual or otherwise, may come to cope with their injuries by breaking off the internal connection with themselves, that is, between the victim's ego and virtual alter. This may give rise to different ways of the child's generating (with its virtual other and its actual others) existential domains and prevailing sentiments for the co-construction and understanding of the world and others in it.
In his review of multiple personalities in terms of neodissociation theory, Hilgard concludes that multiple personalities represent in some sense an effort at coping with a very difficult childhood, with violent and excessive punishment, sexual assaults, occasionally with one parent rather passive and aloof while the other may be the abuser.1
Abuses, sexually or otherwise, inflicted upon the infant by an actual other who literally penetrates the infant's companion space may compel the child to close this space in a way that may never again permit any actual other to enter its companion space in an authentic mode of reciprocity. In terms of the virtual other, such traumatic experience may be seen to perturb or destroy the self-creative dialogic organization of the mind that otherwise recreates itself as a unity irrespective of whether the child's virtual or actual companion participate in the dialogue. The companion space of the child's virtual other may still be filled. But the internal dialogue can no longer re-create itself in the child's mind. Instead, the child's self and virtual other may come to be divorced in a schizogenetic manner, each running its own independent course, constituting the schizophrenic person, or the person with split or multiple personalities, in which there is no symmetric dialogue between the participant perspectives.
In the cases of dual personalities, they may be mutually cognizant or mutually or one-way amnesic, as Ellenberger terms it, that is, they may know of each other, or not be aware of each other, or one them may be aware of the other but not vice versa.2 In extreme cases of sexual abuse, such as reported by Phillips, a number of different "personalities" may emerge in the child's companion space, with little or no communication between them, observing, but not dialoging with the child's encapsulated hurt self.3
In view of the dyadic organization of the mind attributed to the infant, it is only natural to expect, then, that in some cases of child abuse, torture, enforced isolation, the child victim, in order to preserve sanity, will come to divorce itself from the child's virtual alter and emerge as two or several minds or personalities. In that way, the terror, hurt, and pain, are encapsulated, not shared by the child with its virtual alter. Instead, one or several altera emerge, such as the dual personality Kathy and Katherine, the three faces of Eve4, or the many faces of Sibyl5, or of Marcia6, or the "troops for Truddi Chase"7.
For example, in a documentary television program about the many faces of Marcia, we hear the voices of different altera through her voice, even the whimpering infant. Marchia and her sister had been victims of abuse for 14 years, as told by Marchia's younger sister. While she reacted actively and reciprocally, Marchia retreated and gave rise to a multiple personality.8
How can this come about? Glenn Sachs accounts for it in this way: When unbelievable terrible things are inflicted upon the child, rape or other kinds of sexual abuse, torture and isolation, the child may say, as it were: "This is not happening to me. It is happening to someone else." An alter person or several different altera emerges, with different names.
In terms of the virtual alter this is to be expected. The inherent dyadic nature of the mind may permit such a development of multiple personalities. That is, the infant's virtual alter emerges as one or several altera, blocked out from communication and dialogue with the victim's self. A disjunct structure of dual or multiple personalities emerge by virtue of the dyadic nature of the mind's self-organization (Cf. Fig. 8.1 (i)). Sometimes this may be accompanied by a divorce also from bodily feelings with oneself, and by virtue of this, a collapse of the capacity to feel with the other in any mode of felt immediacy (Cf. Fig. 8.1 (ii)).
Domains prevailing from childhood
As referred to in chapter 5, Daniel Stern distinguishes between different formative phases in the child's development of the senses of self (and others) in these domains of relatedness: From birth to about two or three months there is a sense of an emergent self emerging from an embryonic self at birth, and which acquires a core in the domain of relatedness, corresponding to what Trevarthen terms primary intersubjectivity. Around 7 or 9 months, there is a transition to secondary intersubjectivity, as objects and language are brought into play, opening for a mediate intersubjective sense of self in a domain of intersubjective relatedness. This in turn permits a domain of verbal relatedness with a verbal sense of the self from about the eighteen months, and finally, for a narrational sense of the self from about 38 to 42 month of age in a narrational domain of relatedness.
While assuming that the period of emergence of each sense of self is a sensitive period, Stern (1985: 32-33) views the various senses of self and domains of relatedness as active and still forming throughout life. They are not levels or steps on a staircase that are relics of the past, but (inter)subjective senses and (inter)subjectively experienced domains that continue to evolve in the child's and the grown-up's interpersonal lifeworld.
In chapter 5 three encompassing domains were distinguished, concerning, respectively, (D1) immediate, (D2) transitional, and (D3) mediate intersubjectivity. They relate to Stern's distinction between different senses of self, and the corresponding development of the companion space of the virtual other, to Trevarthen's distinctions between primary and secondary intersubjectivity, and to Winnicott's identified domain of transitional phenomena. Add also the primordial domain (Do) of intrapersonal communion between the self and the virtual other according to the present thesis. These different domains indicate different modes of relating to the self and the other. We may now ask how each of these modes may come to collapse as a consequence of various kinds of perturbation, including childhood abuse.
As we have seen above and in chapter 8, childhood abuse may come to bring about a distortion of domain into collapse through divorce of the self from the virtual other (Cf. Fig. 8.1 (i)), sometimes involving a divorce also from bodily feelings with oneself. This is indicated to the right in the below table 11.1. Such a split mind may come to be accompanied by a collapse of the capacity to feel with the other in any mode of felt immediacy (Cf. Fig. 8.1 (ii)).9
To the left in the below table are indicated ways of relating to oneself and the other in the idealtypes of immediate, transitional and mediate modes of understanding. To the right are indicated how these various modes become periodically perturbed as part of everyone's everyday life experience. For example, most readers have experienced from to time to time to be of "a divided mind" (perturbation of (Do)), to lock himself or herself out from feeling with the suffering of the actual other (perturbation of (D1)), to lose oneself in a blessed collective communion dedicated to the cause (perturbation of (D2)), or submitting to the control of a monolithic perspective by the parent, the teacher, or some other authority with direct access to the truth, silencing the question horizon (perturbation of (D3)). The latter kinds of occurrence has been referred to above as "model monopoly".
Table 11.1 Distortions of modes of relating to oneself and others MODES OF DIALOGING WITH COLLAPSE OF MODES OF DIALOGING ONESELF AND OTHERS WITH ONESELF AND OTHERS Do: the person in communion divided or split mind with his virtual other in divorce from the virtual other D1: the person in communion exclusion of actual others with actual others from felt immediacy D2: the person in dedication to a cause or crowd transitional-like object- demanding total commitment subject relations by virtue of a common "object" of shared love or hatred D3: the person in symmetric submittance to the command discourse between complementary control of a monolithic perspectives in some language perspective (model monopoly)
To the tormented mind of the victim of child abuse such perturbations may come to create a more permanent and vicious circle, threatening to break down the capacity of the self-organizing mind to recover itself, that is, the capacity to commune with oneself and with the actual other. The victim's mind may divorce itself more permanently from the virtual other, and encapsulate itself from feeling its own lifeform, and with it, the lifeform of others, including actual others that may come to be victimized. The victim of childhood abuse may continue to be a victim throughout life, submitting to the command logic of abusive others or letting the body out for sale, or joining through "love bombing" totalitarian causes that demands total commitment even to paths that involves destruction of others and generate new victims for the sake of the "good" cause.
Childhood sentiments and possible paths of recovery
One may envisage different extreme or ideal types of existential domains co-generated by different prevalent sentiments on the basis of the child's early experiences. As counterparts to an existential domain co-generated by a prevailing sentiment of being (full)filled on the basis of repeating actualization of holding enclosure and loving care, a converse existential domain of negated existence may come to be co-constructed. Experience of abuse may generate prevailing sentiments of rage and hopelessness in existential domain that denies any value, but the value of evil, to the world and the self in it, on the basis of experience of forceful and abusive penetrations of the companion space. Neglect may bring about prevailing sentiments of having been "thrown" (alone) into a world (with others) on the basis of repeating events of being "dropped", "let down", left alone or kept at a distance by someone invited by the infant to fill its companion space. But such experience may also come to give rise to an existential domain co-generated by a prevailing sentiment of re-creating (the lost) enclosure through the child's creating (with its virtual other) a subject (and later in life, a subject matter) in attempts at fulfilling its companion space. The media for the latter kind of creative acts may be something called an "object" by the observer, or what Winnicott terms "transitional objects". As we saw in chapter 4, he distinguishes holding as a form of loving offered to the infant, from experiences of being 'let down' and not properly held:
"There are those who were never 'let down' as babies and who are to that extent candidates for enjoyment of life and of living. There are also those who suffer traumatic experience of the kind that results from environmental let-down, and who must carry with them all their lives the memories (or material for memories) of the state they were in at the moments of disaster."(Winnicott, 1986:31)10
The baby who almost are "never 'let down'" can be expected to generate an existential domain with the above attributed generative sentiments of fulfillment. The more intense the experience (in the sense of Erlebnis) of being momentarily (full)filled by the actual other in a mode of felt immediacy during protodialoging, the more traumatic may the experience be of having been let down and left alone by the actual other.
It become a shattering experience when preceding periods of experiencing holding and loving care are abruptly transformed into an experience of being thrown out of that comforting enclosure. In terms of dyadic closure: sudden transitions from a mode of being filled by the actual other in a mode of felt immediacy to a state of feeling the complementary participants space suddenly being "emptied" by the actual other.
This may come to co-generate for the child an existential domain and prevailing sentiment to which perhaps may be applied Heidegger's existential interpretations in terms of throwness and of falling into the world (with alien others). He seems, however, to attribute the domain of throwness and falling into the world as the existential domain, as the eigen-domain of the (eigentlich) nature of being, rather than one of a number of possible existential domains.11 Such a domain, which I consider an ideal type among a number of ideal type possibilities, may be disclosed through dread (Angst) (Cf. also Bion)12. This is dread about nothingness, as pointed out by Kierkegaard and Heidegger, or in terms of dialogic closure, dread about the realized unspecific emptiness (nobodyness) of the mind's companion space when it is being left empty by the actual other in a way that prevents the baby to fill it even with its virtual other.13
Unlike Heidegger, Kierkegaard and Buber are open to other existential domains. Buber could never forget his mother's eyes. She left him when he was a child and returned when he grown up. Meanwhile he had found the path to dialogic closure involving actual and actualized others. In different terms he and Kierkegaard point to the possibility of being fulfilled by God, in Buber's terms as an actual and eternal You, who in terms of the thesis, may fill the companion space of the mind's virtual other. To Buber this occurs through grace. To Kierkegaard it takes an immense risky jump.
Such lived moments of fulfillment through religious experience may relate to what Winnicott distinguishes as transitional phenomena in object-relation theoretic terms, and hence, to domain (D2) depicted above (Table 11.1). But this may perhaps also open for a path of transition or recovery for the childhood victim of abuse.
If the confidence in the original closure with the actual other (in domain D1) has not been completely shattered, perhaps a domain (D2) of transitional phenomena is generated. As we saw in chapter 4, the medium for this to the infant may be a bit of cloth that once belonged to the cot cover, or was a blanket, perhaps a bundle of wool, or a word or a tune or a mannerism, which are 'not-me' objects, and yet are weaved by the infant into a personal pattern through the infant's own creation of an intermediate domain between the infant and absenting others in a world of objects. To the tormented adult, all kinds of media, perhaps even the therapeut, may be used. To the child, it is based on the confidence in the union with the actual other, and yet created as an intermediate, or in terms of the thesis, as something that may presently fill the companion space of the virtual other in the absence of the actual other. Hence the separation is creatively overcome in a modus that may be returned in later life through the use of available materials, be it, as Winnicott puts it, a piece of wood or a late Beethoven quartet", so that there be no longer any separation. This may come to reactivate again in the victim the basic human musical capacity, "det musiske menneske" as the Norwegian scholar Jon-Roar Bjørkvold terms it, who has studied the songs of children in different worlds.14
To the tormented adult, lost in a world of solitude and hopelessness, and who yet may sometimes have experienced dialogic closure in the world of immediate intersubjectivity (D1), there may be a transitional path like the one that the baby was once was able to follow, through a world of transitional phenomena (D2), such as singing, dancing, painting, poetry or primitive sculpturing in various modes of self-other narrations, to world of mediate subject-subject relations (D3), and, perhaps, also again to an interpersonal world of immediate reciprocity with the actual other (D1) and with the virtual other (Do).
The paths towards recovery of Mary O'Shea
The continued lifestory of Mary O'Shea, a childhood victim of incest and torture by her father, illustrates some of the above paths. Having uncovered as forty year old the dreadful secrets of her lost childhood she has pursued various pathways. Through the therapeutic process she re-experienced the torture in nightmare dreams, and forced herself to realize some of the abuse that the hurt child inside had suffered. Her terrible rage became directed at her male therapist, and her despair, terror, and rage were expressed in the poetry she wrote (D2). But there were also expressions of beauty, poetic lines reflecting longing and love. She retained the close relationship of mutual care and comforting with her youngest child (D1), while there were clashes with the older one. She found other companions also, most of them females, some of them how have themselves suffered abuse, whom she felt she could trust and advice (D3).
Now, she is back in work in a part-time job while continuing her process of recovery, and sometimes providing help to other victims of child abuse. She has found also a female psychologic professional with whom she feels secure. Her spells of amnesia are less frequent. Her blood pressure is below the danger level, albeit she still takes medications for it, provided by her physician, a woman who has been her continuous support during most of this period. Uncovering the lifeworld of her lost childhood and creating a new one, she feels to have come in contact with the victimized child in herself (Do). While this evokes spells of anxiety, she has become able to let loose some of the rigid control that she exercised in her former life, and which also made her submit to the command control of others. Still distrustful of men, she is now able to say a reasoned No when subjected to command control at the work place or in other contexts. In her new found adolescence and process of maturing she finds herself able to relate to others as equals in a symmetric sense (D3), without dominance or submittance, perhaps also preparing herself to open herself to others in a re-awakened feeling of immediate reciprocity. Emerging as a strong and independent woman with an agile mind, the paths she follows are entirely of her own creation. But in them, she allows for dialoging with others to play a part, including the contact with her female therapists, one of them offering bodily touch and embracing words (D1), the other a participant in conversations about her re-constructing her lifeworld (D3).
Can dialogue unfold itself in psychotherapy?
Originally it was thought that the reconstruction of the patient's past would require several years of therapy. There could be no shortcuts in time. An Italian psychotherapist recounts from his post-study practice in the USA how he experienced a breakthrough only after a few months of therapy. He reported it to his supervisor, but was asked to continue the treatment; according to the paradigm of psychoanalysis prevailing at the time, a breakthrough after a few months was considered an impossibility. Later, in his own practice, he challenged this paradigmatic assumption about time. The psychotherapist is Luigi Boscolo, who tells this relevant story: A series of sessions with a female patient had yielded no results. It soon became clear that the patient's mother, who had passed away, was the source of her difficulties. But whatever was said in this respect, the patient repeatedly retorted something to this effect: 'Whatever we say makes no difference. My mother is dead, and there is nothing we can say or do to alter what has happened in the past.'15*) Boscolo was on the verge on giving up. One day he tells the patient that they were getting nowhere; they might as well stop their meeting with each other. But then, as a last resort, he comes up with this suggestion: Why don't you let me be your mother, and we can have a talk? The patient conceded. She engaged in a series of conversations with Boscolo in her mother's place, and which resolved the knot.16
What may have happened in terms of time and the present thesis? Before the suggestion, the patient held on to the view that the past could not be retrieved. Her mother belonged to her irretrievable past, excluded from his and her presentness, and even from his past. But then Boscolo offers himself to her a medium for her recreating her mother as a co-present conversational participant, perhaps akin to the way in which the infant may use a 'transitional object' to recreate his interaction with the mother in her absence. By virtue of her virtual other, the patient is able to re-engage in and continue her conversations with her mother, elicited by Boscolo as medium. Through these conversations in a presentness shared with her re-activated mother, the past - as part of the conversational presentness - is being re-written in a manner that allows for coherence with the future that emerges from the present conversations.
The above case of a clinical dialogue whereby a past participant relation is brought into the present and reconstructed in the process of constructing a future emerging from the shared now between the patient and a reconstructed companion of the past, invites an understanding in terms of Mead's philosophy of the present (Cf. chapter 15). Everything that exists, exists according to Mead in the present. Past and emergent future are in the present. The future emerging in the present involves the reconstruction of the past as part of this very same present.
Dialoging involves alteration. Both the self and the other emerge in the immediate present of the encounter as emergent future self and other who reconstruct the past self and other in the presentness of each other. In the above case the therapist explicitly invites the client to use him as a medium for present conversation with her past mother. When transition mechanisms are at work he may come to be transformed in the Gestalt of the past significant and problematic other, filling the companion space of the patient's virtual other. In the above case the patient first explicitly refuted the possibility of any such process, prior to the transition that came about through the psychiatrist's offering himself as a substitute conversation companion.
Space for dialoging and narrational reconstruction of the past
Daniel Stern considers the implications for the therapeutic process of reconstructing a narrative about the past in view of his distinction of different domains of infant senses of the self. In their joined search for the potent life-experience that provides the key therapeutic metaphor for co-reconstruction of the patient's past, the therapist and client may roam across the ages and through the above domains of interpersonal relatedness to discover what Stern terms "the narrative point of origin of the pathology". Once the metaphor has been found, the therapeutic process usually proceeds forward and backward in time from that point of origin.
Such a common quest proceeds partly through conversations on the patient's premises, is demonstrated by the attitude which Harlene Anderson and Harold Goolishian apply to their work in family therapy with patients who have a long clinical career before they come to see them. Being concerned with the prerequisites for dialoging on the premisses of the patient's perspective in the intersubjective setting of the conversation, the pair of them even try to lay aside deficiency preconceptions. They consider the therapeutic conversation as no different from any other conversation. The characteristic of any dialogic conversation is that each participant opens himself to the other and accept the other's point of view as being worthy of consideration. Through dialogue one may get inside each other in a process that continues and makes for a change. In the therapeutic conversation, the therapist is constantly touching base with the members of the problem-organizing system. It is the process of carrying on multiple conversations concurrently such that over time new ideas will begin to evolve, touch and make contact with each other.
Considering the implications for clinical theory, Anderson and Goolishian identify their praxis with that of being actual companions to the patient in a mode of dialoging in which no position of rational expertise is taken, and hence, control is avoided even in the sense of imposing upon the other any label and invitation to submit to any monological or monolithic perspective. Above all, the respect for the other involves a walking-along kind of conversation.17 They regard the ideal therapist not as an expert on pathology, but as an ideal participant manager of conversation:
"The therapist does not control the interview by influencing the conversation toward a particular direction in the sense of content or outcome, nor is the therapist responsible for the direction of change. The therapist is only responsible for creating a space in which the dialogical conversation can occur and for being participant in maintaining the conversation. Bråten (...) describes this as a conversation that is intersubjective and one in which participants can make room for the creativity and consciousness of each other.
The goal of creating a space for, and participating in dialogical conversation is central to the therapist's position." (Anderson and Goolishian, 1987)18
According to them the therapist must be prepared to change as any other member of the problem-organized system, the therapist must have dialogic conversation also with herself. In terms of the present thesis this means to be able to enter into dialogue with one's virtual other as a prerequisite to be able into dialogue with the actual other. For the patient, sometimes, there is the other way round. If the patient allows the therapist into the patient's companion space, then there may be recreated a ground for the subsequent dialogue that the patient may carry on with himself, that is, with his virtual other. The therapist may be seen to herself as a walking companion to the patient, following the path of the patient as the actual other in dialogue, and then leaving the patient to walk further along with her virtual other. As pointed out by Daniel Stern, such narrational reconstructions during conversational therapy rarely, however, get back to preverbal ages.19
"During the infancy period, before adequate symbolizing functions are available, the recall cue cannot be too abstract and the experience of being-with cannot be automatic; it must involve at least some degree of reliving the experience, the evoked companion." (Stern, 1985, p. 243
Even though an affect state cannot be recalled in its immediacy, only re-activated, such re-living would somehow relate to the feelings involved in the original critical life moments, and which have come to colour, perhaps as prevailing sentiments, the existential lifeworld and others in it that the child has co-constructed with her virtual other. Perhaps this entails that if the patient can co-create some moments of dialogic closure with the therapist, permitting the therapist to fill the companion space of her virtual other in felt immediacy, using the therapist as a medium for re-actualizing the original other in a transitional moment, like the infant uses transitional objects, the original experience may be re-lived and transcended.
This is somewhat in line with a proposal made by Sophie Freud. She points out that "the better the therapist can match, or fit into the space created by the Virtual Other.. the more successfully may the dialogue unfold itself."20
Such re-opening of admittance to the companion space of the patient's virtual other presupposes trust, confidence, and even the feeling of caring. The patient with a childhood of abuse may need an opened companion space for the abused child in the patient to cry out in rage, rebel, break out of the cruel confinement which during childhood offered no avenue of escape, and, then bodily opportunities for calming down, resting, falling asleep. She may need to re-establish the feeling being held, of holding as Winnicott terms it, a sufficient safe and caring ground for the patient to come in contact with herself again, or, in terms of the virtual other, for the internal dialogue to recreate itself in the companion space of the patient's virtual other. But a vicious circle may originally have been co-generated in a domain of hurtful isolation. Divorcement from the virtual other may be accompanied by exclusion and negation of any actual other attempting again to fill that companion space. Since there is, however, according to object relations theory and the present thesis, a pathway of transform between the dialogic closure within and between the patient, that vicious circle may be broken through transitional phenomena, where the therapist may become a medium for the patient's re-enacting dialogic closure through dialoging with her self, that is with her virtual other. Actual others may sometimes be used to re-actualize and re-live feelings with absent others from the past.
Transference and the legacy from Freud
The above case with Boscolo's offering himself to his client as a medium for her recreating her mother as a co-present conversational participant, may come to invite the process of transference21 discovered by Sigmund Freud. That is, the patient transfers her relational feelings to an absent other onto the therapist. The rage and feeling of betrayal that Mary O'Shea, the victim of incest and torture by her father, directed at her male therapist during analysis may be seen to involve such a process. This may involve a path to the above domain (D2) of transitional phenomena. Like a medium used by the infant in transition, the therapist is transformed into an actualized other who may fill the companion space of the patient's virtual other in a mode of felt hatred.
It is worth noting that the way in which Freud let the patient be lying on a couch, without eye contact with him, even though he came up with leading questions, would sometimes permit conversational circuits to be activated in the patient. The face-to-face contact in current practice permits conversation to evolve between patient and therapist, but may sometimes leave the latter in almost complete control due to the eye-contact even when the therapist remains mute and tries to abstain from imposing her view upon the other. For example, Mary O'Shea found herself unable to follow her own mind in the conversation with the male therapist, when facing him. When she insisted, however, upon their sitting sideways, so that they could avoid looking at each other, she felt herself more free to pursue her own mind in the conversation.
Freud formulated his scientific theory of the human mind in a way that entailed a recipe for therapeutic practice, and which in turn attempted to draw upon such practice. His "objects" of research were at the same time his clients subjected to therapy. Phenomena of transference, whereby the client invited him to enter the client's companion space in the place of another actual other, turned out to be an embarrassment that might interfere with the process of scientific study.22 But then, he was also a revolutionary thinker who fought against established scientific truths in his own time. Psychoanalysis became a fighting cause, a crusade, which only perhaps after the second world war, achieved a monolithic status, a model monopoly.
There seems to be a curious contradiction in his teaching and practice. On the one hand, he maintained that distance should be maintained in relating to the patient and that rational interpretations paved the way for recovery. On the other, he discovered the unconscious, and hence, the domain of the immediate, and disclosed the emotional significance of symbols as they engaged in conversations during dreams. On the one hand, he showed that the way of the patient's carrying on a conversation with herself under the guidance of the psychoanalyst could be a way of liberation from the net of mental and cultural prejudices in which the patient were caught. On the other hand, he appears to have imposed upon patients and disciples his interpretations as revelations of the underlying valid, Endgültig truth, denying the possibility of any dialogue between rival views and interpretations.
Yet, voices of objection were raised to Sigmund Freud's teaching, first by close associates who left or were expelled from the inner circle and went their own ways. Ferenczi, for example, was open to relating to the patient on an equal footing, even permitting immediate modes of relating to the other, laying the ground for a two-person psychiatry. Criticism has been raised in numerous quarters throughout this century, for example, of Freud's insisting upon a monotonous interpretation in terms of sexus, of willing its establishment as a dogma.23 Previously has been referred to how Victoria Hamilton has undertaking to un-root the myths of primary narcissism and the Oedipus complex.24 Another source of criticism is the field of family therapy. In her review of the foundations of the field, Lynn Hoffmann (1981:219) describes this field has having amounted an assault, almost amounting to revolution, against the ideas of the Freudian establishment. In this assault systemic ideas of Gregory Bateson and others have played a part.25 Even within the "house" of Freud himself, a critical voice is raised by his granddaughter, Sophie Freud who declares herself congenial to systemic and feminist thought. She came to love and admire the aged Anna Freud as her "third mother", but reacted against the patriarchical edifice left by her grandfather and the "language of truth" spoken by the appointed guardians of this edifice.26
This magnificent edifice has contributed to our present awareness about the depths and emergent society of the human mind and about the power of what Sperry terms the mind's "downward causation" (to be turned to in chapter 13). There are, however, as we have seen empirical grounds for questioning some of the features of his theoretical edifice. The findings referred in previous parts, including the uncovery by Anna Freud, give reasons to doubt Freud's attribution of autistic closure to the newborn, and his view of morality as emerging only with the fully development of the superego representing the demands of the culture. Yet his unclosure of the emotional significance of symbols, and of the way in which emotional and sexual energy and conflict-laden social relations come to distort and channel our ways of thinking may be seen as a necessary complement and corrective to the way in which the symbol-processing mind tends to be modelled and simulated in cognitive science. To this I shall now turn.
E281291 NOTES TO CHAPTER 12
1Hilgard, op.cit., pp.39-40.
2Ellenberger, 1970.....Hilgard, op.cit., pp.25-27.
3Cf. Truddi Chase: When Rabbit Howls, and the Introduction and Epilogue by R. A. Phillips J., Pan Books, London 1987.
4Ch. Osgood et al....1976
6........The many faces of Marchia, CBS.....
7When Rabbit Howls, with an introduction and epilogue by R.A. Phillips, Jr., Pan Books, London 1988.
8.............."The many faces of Marcia". 48 hours, CBS News.....
9As pointed out in chapter 8 and returned to in chapter 10, the latter kind of collapse need not preclude commitment to some ideological or collective cause. Such commitment may provide transitional-phenomena-like lived moments of communion with the cause or the collectivity or the crowd as an actualized other. Such communion need not, however, be restricted to communion in love-like feeling with the collectivity or the cause. It may encompass or become perverted into a communion by virtue of a shared "object" of hatred. If this feeling of communion is combined with the submittance to command control in terms of some monolithic perspective, such as totalitarian logics, such a combination may become lethal and produce victims in its path.
10S. Winnicott: Home is where we start from, Penguin., Harmondsworth, 1986, p.31.
11I must confess that I am not sure that I understand Heidegger's Sein and Zeit (having tried to read it also in English and Swedish translations)......
12Ref to Bion...
13Perhaps Heidegger is right in pointing out that the realization of being "oneself" in a world with other "ones" distinguished in the medium in which one exists with others, as one's mother, as one's friends, as one's fellow victims, may come to activate a kind of concern in the mediational sense of care (Sorge). But this may differ from the kind of immediate concern for the actual and present other by virtue of feeling the lifeform of the other by virtue of feeling oneself, that is, by the virtual other.
14Jon-Roar Bjørkvold: Det musiske menneske. Freidig Forlag, Oslo 1989.
15*) This nearly echoes what Melanie Klein once said to her analysand, Clare Winnicott: "There is no use talking about your mother. She's dead, and there is nothing you can do about it." (P. Grosskurth: Melanie Klein. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1987, p.59).
16L. Boscolo (personal communication, Sulitjelma 1988), told this story to Heinz von Foerster and me, and asked how we would account for it in terms of time.
17For a review of their praxis, see: H. Anderson, H. Goolishian, G. Pulliam, and L. Winderman: The Galveston Family Institute: some personal and historical perspectives, in: D. Effron (ed.): Journeys: expanding of strategic systemic therapies. York: Bruner/Mazel 1986. See also the Irish Journal.........
18H. Anderson and H. Goolishian: A View of Human Systems as Linguistic Systems: Some evolving ideas about the implications for theory and practice. Galveston Family Institute, Galveston 1987 (Based on their chapter on Human Systems, in: L. Reiter, J. Brunner and S. Reiter-Theil (eds.): Von der Familientherapie zur Systemishen Therapie. Heidelberg: Springer Verlag 1988. But they also point out that one "must be careful, however, not to confuse a mono-perspective with problems; that is, to think that a mono-perspective is always problematic. It may or it may not be".H. Anderson and H.A. Goolishian: 'A View of Human Systems as Linguistic systems: Some Preliminary and Evolving Ideas about the Implications for Clinical Theory', Galveston Family Institute, Galveston, Texas, April 1988. In this I stand partly corrected. As I have pointed out elsewhere (in a paper on the third position), there is a time for dialoging, as well as a time for monologic implementation when having to, as it were, to put blinkers on. The latter cannot be done dialogically, that is, one cannot walk in one direction, and at the same time, in the opposite direction. Decision points are literally points of cutting through. But there is a difference between making decisions against a background of crossing perspectives, and letting a mono-perspective make the decision.
19D. Stern: The Interpersonal world of the infant, op.cit., p.257.
20Personal communication, March 27, 1988.
21Evelyn Andreewsky, working at Salpetrie, has pointed out to me the relevance of the theory of the virtual other for the process of transference.
22At a symposium in Oslo, André Haynal......
23Errinnerungen, Träume, Gedanken von C. G. Jung, ed. by J. Jaffe', Random House Inc., 1961. (Swedish translation by I. Alm). Stockholm: Natur och Kultur, 1964, p.149).
24V. Hamilton: Narcissus and Oedipus. The Children of Psychoanalysis. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul 1982.
25L. Hoffmann: Foundations of Family Therapy. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1981. Cf. also B. Keeney: Aesthetics of Change. New York: The Guilford Press 1981). But as pointed out by Hoffmann, it has also produced a host of new "gurus", one replacing another, while none enjoys lasting legitimacy.
26Sophie Freud: Lecture on the Occasion of Celebrating Sigmund Freud. Society of Dream Interpretation, London 25 July 1989 (Personal communication prior to the lecture, Hvaler 25 July 1989). Cf. also Sophie Freud: My three mothers.......
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