Academic journal article Contemporary Psychoanalytic Studies

Nine: Developing Competency: In the Destruction of Psychoanalysis an Other Approach

Academic journal article Contemporary Psychoanalytic Studies

Nine: Developing Competency: In the Destruction of Psychoanalysis an Other Approach

Article excerpt

When a form of thought seems to be growing old and nearing its end, we should question not its uncertain future but the long process of its maturation and coming to light to read there the omens of its destiny. A genealogy of psychoanalysis will instruct us about its fate more surely than its present successes or failures can. And when psychoanalysis, its therapy's usefulness ever more contested despite its popular audience, already wears the drab uniform of ideology, philosophy must explain the causes behind this decline by examining its theoretical corpus, initially presented as a total revolution in the manner of understanding man's most intimate being - his psyche-...

- Michel Henry

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, we come face to face with how little we know about that which we have been so certain for so long. It appears that the natural order of things in psychoanalysis is not as natural as we once had thought, nor is it in the order we so readily had assumed. As the emerging worldview of the twenty-first century weaves its epistemological design into the fabric of the analytic culture, there have been some rather abrupt and ruptured breaks with our more traditional ways of thinking about people, life and psychoanalysis. Disturbing, disordering, and dramatic as it might be, the discursive rationality of the analytic culture is changing.

During the modern era, psychoanalysis developed as an institutional system deeply rooted in the worldview of the early 1900's at which time the world was seen as fixed and stable, reality was unchanging and predictable, and adaptation to the status quo was the contextualizing value of both psychoanalytic education and treatment. In the emerging worldview of the twenty-first century, however, the world is seen as operating in a random fashion about which we can speak only in terms of probabilities, potentialities, and possibilities (Barratt, 1993). The fixed, stable and predictable world of modernity has transformed into a world that exists in a state of continuous flux, consists of a fabric of invisible relations, and in which world the events of everyday life are understood as irreducibly complex phenomena. Filled with uncertainty, paradox, and unfamiliarity, a quantum world is emerging in which dynamic patterns are continuously changing into one another in a perpetual dance of energy (Capra, 1982) and nothing is fixed and measurable (Zohar, 1994).

As a form of thought developed during the modern era, psychoanalysis is growing old and nearing its end. We find ourselves thinking about psychoanalytic thinking and, in so doing, rethinking the received wisdoms, values, and pieties of the institutionalized truth and ethic of psychoanalysis as epistemology, ethics, theory, practice, and education. Although philosophy is generally thought of as the antithesis of psychoanalysis, recent years have witnessed certain foundational questions - philosophical in nature - encircling the analytic community. Shaken out of our traditional ways of thinking, we find ourselves compelled to rethink such fundamental questions as: How do we know what we think we know? What is the nature of human nature, of reality, and of time, process, and complexity in the analytic engagement?

The multiplicity of perspectives now entertained by psychoanalysis can generate a cornucopia of views on what we might call "clinical momentum." Attempts to give expression to complex experience challenge received understandings about what, in our ways of being with others and with ourselves, propels the forward motion of clinical engagement. The contemporary affinity for uncertainty, interest in complexity, and the appreciation of each treatments unique flux, -moment by moment and through protracted time-, seize our attention (Program Brochure, 2007).'

That which brings about changes in the analytic engagement is not as obvious as it once seemed to have been.

As we search to understand the specific nature and unique subdeties of the analytic experience, we find ourselves deeply implicated in matters of philosophy in the re-examination of our largely unquestioned assumptions regarding the nature of time, process, and complexity in the analytic engagement. …

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