Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Mentalization and Passivity *

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Mentalization and Passivity *

Article excerpt

The Report presented in 1962 at the Congress of the Paris Psychoanalytic Society (SPP), under the title Aspect fonctionnel de la vie onirique [The functional aspect of oneiric life] by Christian David and myself, included a project aimed at creating surprise. For some time already, Pierre Marty, Michel de M'Uzan, Christian David and myself had been working together on the problems raised by psychosomatics. In this connection, the name of the École psychosomatique de Paris [Paris School of Psychosomatics] was given to us. In other words, the reporters knew that, following their text, the intervention of Michel de M'Uzan and Pierre Marty would surprise the public and pose an unexpected problem: whilst the text of the Report had sought to clarify the mechanisms of the dreamwork and their effectiveness as guardians of sleep, the paper presented by Marty and de M'Uzan signalled the existence of a form of mental activity negating the efficacy of oneiric hallucination. However, this mental activity-la pensée opératoire1 to call it by its name- was characterized by its close relationship with reality and the concrete task that the latter required. The task in question is, moreover, only envisaged in terms of its effectiveness, and not in terms of the personal history of the subject who is interested in the development of his own thought processes.

During this congress, the discussion did not consider the collusion that existed between the Report and the paper by Marty and de M'Uzan, in spite of the fact that everyone knew about the relations that existed between the members of the École de Paris. I think, moreover, that I myself had not fully grasped the meaning that emerged once the two texts were compared. Not a single intervention of the Congress participants attempted to point out that these four discussants, known for their joint studies, were signalling that two types of discourse could be described as representing one thing and its contrary: on one side, the complexities of the dream-work in reaching its aim, namely, sleep, and, on the other, a logical and rational discourse adapted to the task.

It is worth noting with regard to the sleep/dream system that psychoanalysts strive primarily to detect the latent meaning of the dream, without giving consideration to its functional success. In other words, does it protect sleep well or badly? They find support for this point of view in the fact that, during a session of analysis, the telling of a dream is made up of associations that should not be given priority, but rather considered with the same degree of attention that is given to the material as a whole. In other words, in the course of an analysis, the telling of a dream is first and foremost dominated by the transference on to the analyst-transference that is difficult to detect when an "operational or mechanical mode of thinking" begins to coexist in an analysand with essential depression.

Pierre Marty and Michel de M'Uzan have drawn attention to, and coined the term for, the phenomenon of "projective reduplication:" the patient who is functioning in an "operational or mechanical" mode perceives in the other nothing but himself, something Pierre Marty was to illustrate later by the formula "the unconscious receives but does not emit," which implies the absence of visible transference manifestations. Now the transference is a current manifestation of affective life and its absence is a matter of concern for the psychoanalyst, who notices it when he becomes aware of the fact that "in the presence of a patient who is functioning in this way, he no longer has any countertransference." He (the analyst) has emitted, but the unconscious of the other has not responded. It is understandable that, following such experiences, the term "projective reduplication" was abandoned. This feeling of loss connected with ceasing to be the object of the transference of the other sometimes gives rise to feelings of depersonalization in the analyst (de M'Uzan 2013, added by AW). …

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