OCCASIONAL COMMENTS ON PSCHO-ANALYTIC MATTERS + CONTIBUTIONS fromMICHAEL ROLOFF Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben]

Thursday, July 9, 2009


The underlying discussion between Jessica Benjamin and Vic

Sedlac can be found at this link: 
Below my comment, the dream mention there is the previous entry in this blog. Michael Roloff

I wholeheartedly endorse Jessica Benjamin’s call for openness on the analyst’s part, especially at moments when the analyst has erred; and I have a priceless and ever so musical anecdote from my own analysis with a vibrantly attuned analyst as an emphatic exclamation point.
    Among the requests, conditions – experienced, a man, preferably of his  [ my grandfather’s age! I subsequently realized] I made of the analysts who would find me my analyst was that that analyst also speak German: little as I knew then, I knew enough to know that there might be moments that my mother tongue would crop up. With all requests but that of the analyst’s age being fulfilled - and noticing during the interim prior to taking to the couch that my analyst was flinchingly hyper-sensitive, thus apparently, instinctively assured of empathy - he then claimed that he didn’t know German; and, quite characteristically, the thought shot through my head, ah well, can’t really make such a big difference, what a hassle it would be to find another after we’ve got this far, en face. Well into the analysis, at about the time of reliving of a crucial trauma of abandonment at age 9 months, burning, the brain seemingly wasting away,
 this indeed hyper-vigilant analysand -  highly musical, and having translated German prose and poetry at the highest level, and keenly made aware of accents since earliest days in the United States - had by that time noticed an accent in my man’s voice, amplified especially by the answering machine where he left the occasional message.
    Preceding the climactic dream, I had started to read, kept re-reading as a matter of fact,
The Interpretation of Dreams, and even felt that maybe we could conduct the analysis - conducted already so frequently in metaphors - entirely in the form of dream analyses From this endeavor my man sought to dissuade me, pointing out - overall correctly, yet specifically incorrectly and far too "by the book" - that the whole spectrum of information of which I might deliver myself would be preferable, not counting on an utterly stubborn part of someone who can be equally obliging, which I was not consciously aware at that point might prove one of the most powerful resistances.
    Prior to the dream in question there had at least been one other “testing” dream, testing whether my so instantaneously responsive, “quick as lighting” as I thought of him, might know German. That dream features an oak maquis and a huge beech tree near my childhood home, and the German proverb: “Eiche weiche, Buche suche.” Avoid the oak tree, seek the beech – in a lightning storm. When delivery of this drew no response, I recall, with real amusement now at the devisements of my unconscious maneuvers [how could consciousness construct something along those lines!], saying quite disingenuously, wearing a fool’s cap for sure: “I wonder why I am dreaming that?” No reaction from my analyst, which part of me interpreted as: “He doesn’t know proverbial German.” 'Gotta try something else,' the unconscious seemed to have decided then, and thus devised that night the dream that is recounted in full at:
    The dream featured Schubert’s setting of the famous Goethe
Der Erlkönig {Lord or King of the Reeds} ballad… Apparently I knew not only the poem, as I know/ knew quite a few Goethe poems by heart, but also the music. It veritably sang inside me that night. Ah what a dream offering I had for my man! Instant on settling on the couch and starting to recount the dream, the analyst was singing the Schubert setting of the Goethe poem. If proof ever there was of attunedness… this was it, no? Upon that “singing” [in each and every sense of the word, also colloquial in American punning] my instantaneity was: “I thought you didn’t know German.” [Thus the title of the dream: Trapping the Trapper] 
    I of course cannot speak for what went on in my analysts at that moment, but prior to that he had even apologized for the slightest [from my point of view] mistakes, such as: “I owe you five minutes,” when he had been that amount late.{“I might have and ought to have I suppose - but I was utterly polite still - replied: Oh Jesus, you are beginning to sound just like my governess [!]} Or for calling me an “idealist” when saying that seemed to have put a bit of a dent in the transference, indeed I had the self-fantasy of being a “practical idealist.” Actually one reason I was on the couch was because I can’t say I was very good at the practical part of that. But I imagine that the reason for my man’s maneuver in claiming that he did not know German was that it would allow him [with the best of intentions of course!] to find whatever discrepancy might appear between my saying something in German and then, with a more conscious part of the mind, translating it into English: but best to my recollection that had never occurred, and it sure didn’t afterwards since ever afterwards when something German would crop up I would rub it in by saying: “You do know German, don’t you?” “Yes, I do.” Talking about role reversal! I now was Goethe, he wasn't! Not a nice part of me at all!
     However, my man for once neither apologized nor offered an explanation. An explanation which would have involved filling me in on how his analytic instrument worked, what he had been up to, would have been the best apology of course, and then this particular analytic diad could have worked in far less of a cat and mouse fashion, but better together. As it was, I had won, where I had not wanted to win, and winning for once seemed not to be part of the relationship, or so I had hoped, and was now running him, had toppled the Laius in the armchair, that perfect instrument that had become limited by its too literal adherence, among others, to too literal adherence to concepts of resistance,
 instead of being held by him as the burning child - abandoned by its mother had apparently wanted to be held by its father - once upon a long ago but then right there again -  and he kept making one mistake after the other, until I withdrew, thoroughly spooked; the attunedness had been destroyed; it had become discordant; and did not complete the analysis – in as much it can even be completed in such a case such as mine with its set of complicated traumas - until after several years of working on my own – on a profusion of thence ensuing dreams – and on the West coast, and in a most unorthodox and productive fashion: I’d either to go my new man’s office or he’d come out visit me in my chaparral haven, we’d walk, we’d lie down next to each other in the grass, sometimes one or the other would sit on a rock, time was irrelevant, the entire rigmarole of the setting could be thrown overboard, we worked either completely disciplined or free form fashion.

2] Which brings me to my second point. Jessica Benjamin presents the case of a woman who was seduced at age fourteen as then having “acted out sexually.” I am bothered by the manner of presentation, where I realize Ms. Benjamin needs to be condensed. But most fourteen year old girls are also sexually precocious if not seductive and the phrase “sexually acted out” strikes me as analytically dismissive, unpleasantly value laden of what occurred. I think Ms. Benjamin did entirely the appropriate thing in calling her patient’s attention to what in fact used to be called “other directed”… that part of the superego that is based on communal shame, and I am only surprised that it took her so long to free her patient of that. E.g. in a society where young girls are initiated into sex by older men [no doubt also for selfish male reasons] no shame would be attached, would it? In Mexico where I then lived for some years there is a feast called
quinze años, their coming out, and by sixteen just about each and every one had a bêbe, and a bêbe shawer, as the American custom has been transliterated, and if they were lucky they got their bêbe from the favorite stud musician, basketball player, and now probably drug dealer! And there was no female shame, only pride! in being fertile and having a bêbe! Rarely have I seen Freud’s equation penis=bêbe so directly fulfilled; also the notion of castration anxiety where every child, both male and female, shield their genitals whenever frightened, and with total unselfconsciousness, and of course some grownups, too still.
    The most horrendous consequence that our shame+sin+guilt-based culture saw during the past half century was of course Lyndon Johnson’s fear of being known as being soft on communism! Alas, those who died for his sense of shame….
    This brief diversion and these examples bring me to make a suggestion to a practice to which I indeed owe an immense amount, if not very specifically except in a few instances, but very much in general. Analysis works, it works inside the heart of the world, so why does it not speak the world’s tongue? The language appears deficient however in having nothing better than the word “relationship” for what occurs specifically in the encounter of any two biological beings, [nor does German either with
Verhältniss, although that word too, implies the possibility of an relationship also being sexual] a multiplicity of relations occur, and so we now also have the concept of an “analytic third” for what used to be simply called the analytic relationship, which indeed is  very special in that it allows of special forms of closeness, of repair,  and of distancing can be explored.
    It speaks simply in its practice, doesn’t it? It does between its members? Why cannot a conversation between capable analysts  be conducted in something other than what to outsiders must seem like Latinate gibberish? Stop the mumbo jumbo, the pretense at science, at having a “scientific language.” Psychoanalyst have become the new priesthood and all the things to be said against priesthoods and factions and schismatics apply to it meanwhile as well, and it is a true shame, and it is all about power! And we know what power does, it corrodes.
    Be as straight as possible with patients at the inception of the procedure. E.g. “Think of me like Jacque Cousteau, I have taken many trips to the  ocean trench, I had good teachers I think, we are going to take this trip together, I will be your guide, I have considerable confidence in myself, but we are going there the two of us, together, and the deeper we spiral the more closely we will be tied together in our verbal tangle, entwined, and as a twosome there will be times we enter unfamiliar territory, and where I will need your support and guidance, really, I may even become desperate for it,
this has happened with each of those I have guided there. All I can promise is an adventure…”   The analysand’s commitment to speak as truthfully needs to be matched by that of the analyst’s, and I think the profession as a whole would benefit.

As a matter of fact, I wrote up the entire analysis, then, as “A Patient’s Experience of his analysis,” to make sure, as best I could, so as not to miss anything pertaining to the dream.

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MICHAEL ROLOFF http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name exMember Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html