Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Faith (F) and Presence Moment (O) in Analytic Processes: An Example of a Narcissistic Disorder

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Faith (F) and Presence Moment (O) in Analytic Processes: An Example of a Narcissistic Disorder

Article excerpt

Theoretical considerations

Freud captured one of the most central features of psychoanalysis in his wonderful observation that a neurosis cannot be slain in absentia (1912, p. 108, or 1914, p. 152). The neurosis must show itself in statu nascendi, as Freud had already stressed in the "Studies on Hysteria" (1895, p. 6), but we must make clear what Freud meant by in statu nascendi; he does not only mean in vivo and in presentia, but that the neurosis must show itself at the moment of coming into being. Statu nascendi is not a simple revival of the past, or of constructions of the past, but a process of creation by which neurosis comes into being in the analytic space. We now know that psychoanalysis is a method in vivo. But what happens when we destroy the neurosis "in presentia"?

Outline of the problem

First of all we have to get an idea of what "in presentia" could mean. For me, "in presentia" is the moment of presence in which something is there in order to become. To illustrate this moment I will provide a very drastic example. Imagine a policeman rings the bell and says to you, 'I am very sorry, your child died in an accident.' What happens in the reception of this horrific news? The news of the death of your child can make everything stand still, while at the same time being all there: it is a facticity, in which something is real-ized. Something is standing still in this moment and something becomes real at this point. It is a timeless state - in that it appears to be outside the moment of time - yet the present is there (the death of the child), the future is there (living without the child) and the past is there (the lived life with the child). It is a state rooted in the past, being in the present, and pointing to the future - and yet it is timeless. This is a state without self and object, although subject and object exist in the clearest way. It is neither conscious nor unconscious, not having properly entered either although it is in absolute presence. It is a thoroughly circularly-paradoxical state, which we cannot think in a linear, causal way. In the moment that you think: 'My child is dead' the state is gone, a transformation into thinking and knowledge has occurred.

Beyond this dramatic example I am convinced that such presence moments occur in everyday life and in analytical processes. Such a presence moment is a state of determination, but it allows freedom. It has a basically changing quality, a mutative character. The presence moment is a description of an experience and corresponds to Bion's O, which is a metapsychological, implicit, and negatively defined concept. Thus O is a metapsychological concept of an empirical fact that exists beyond the individual experience, while the presence moment tries to grasp precisely this individual occurrence. In general, we can understand a presence moment as an event in which a psychic truth and reality is irrefutably revealed, but not comprehended. For comprehension the presence moment has to be transformed. There are many parallels with Stern's concept of 'present moment' (2004), but my notion differs in the understanding of time and the consciousness.

The following is intended as a micro-analysis of the processes that precede this presence moment, which constitute it and result in a first naming of the complex that shows itself in the presence moment. What follows therefore concerns the processes that Bion (1963/1965/1970) tries to grasp with his figures of the transformations of K and O: first, the transformation to moment of presence (from K to O), then the presence moment in which a current individual reality shows itself (being O), and finally the first transformations into naming and knowledge (from O to K). From a given psychic state comes a grasping of an individual reality and truth (O), which then changes the system and allows, perhaps even forces, a new perspective on things. These processes are embedded in faith (F), in the belief and hope that the psychic reality will show itself in presence and can be transferred to an understanding that supports progress. …

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