Speaking Up

Our SBPRP is going to host Bion International Conference in 2018. Aiming at preparing ourselves for this event, we will hold a Pre-Conference that will take place from September 29th to October 1st, 2017. This Pre-Conference’s theme starts a new moment in the Brazilian Psychoanalysis, as for the first time a Bion meeting will be devoted to the "Memory of the future", since it was translated in Brazil by Paulo Cesar Sandler. Up to now, it had not been the theme of any Conference. We will count on the analyst lecturers who deeply and creatively learned the “Memory of the future” trilogy, Bion’s last written work, transmitted to us by his genius.

Paulo Sandler (Brazil), Leandro Stitzman (Argentina) and Annie Reiner (USA), talented, unique and creative analysts, were invited to have a conversation and to present their reflections to us on "what a psychoanalyst does". One of the guiding vertices of the conferences and conversations is going to be "the infinite", one of the formulations conceived by Bion in order to support the expansion of his thinking and of the Psychoanalysis universe. Bion’s thinking is in deep tune with the complexity, the contradictions and the polarities that are pertinent to the search of the human existence in our times. For this reason, in addition to the psychoanalysts, this meeting’s audience also comprises professionals from all areas, students and people who are interested and enthusiastic about the different expressions of the existence in the human culture.

It is an event which will offer opportunities for an open dialogue with the lecturers and for us to share such an instigating view by Bion on the human universe, by means of this probe named Psychoanalysis.

Wild Thoughts


Wilfred Bion’s work can be compared to a kaleidoscope, in the same manner of the author’s life. A child born in 1897 in the Imperial Victorian India, a student of an English public school in the beginning of the XX Century, a soldier in the Royal Regiment of Tanks in World War I, the war hero decorated with medals for extreme bravery, a student of Modern History at the University of Oxford, a History professor at the same public school where he had studied, the swimming coach for children, the Rugby player, the medical student in London, John Rickman’s analysand, the candidate in the British Society of Psychoanalysis, the therapist at Tavistock, the medical doctor in World War II, the innovative group therapist, Melanie Klein’s analysand, the Training Analyst in the British Society of Psychoanalysis, the President of this society, the analyst in Los Angeles, the supervisor and lecturer in several places in the world, the friend, the husband, the father, the writer, the genius scholar.

All of these aspects produced a challenging discourse which, when we are about to understand him, frequently makes us stumble in a wild thought that leads us back to square one. It seems that Bion is always ahead of us, disappearing from our view. Or like a kaleidoscope, at each reading a new configuration appears.

Throughout many years of study and dialogue with his work, I was left with a direction of thinking which I try to keep safe. It suggests taking into account its complexity. However, I do not suggest doing that literally, just by reading the many authors we have at our disposal, including myself. There is even a seductive dictionary to teach us how we should read Bion. But Bion is not there. It is necessary to go deeper, to go beyond his writings, to be carried away by the founding meaning of his work that is set up in our own experience: the Psychoanalysis rebirth in each new session and in each new reading. We must have wild thoughts in order to follow this founding meaning.

I think that this means that the main tool to contact Bion depends on our imagination functioning. First, this implies that to meet Bion we must reflect on the history of imagination in Psychoanalysis. We must inquire how Bion’s ideas are inserted in this history, and how, due to their enormous intuitive capacity, generator of advanced ideas, they always place us in the future, whose access can just take place by the imagination. In his work there is a significant door to the future of Psychoanalysis. That is the reason for the amount of ambivalent reactions it gives rise in face of the fear of the unknown and of the need of moving forward in dark and obscure places.

The idea of complexity was present in the daily vocabulary much more than in the scientific one. The popular meaning can express a confuse object or something hard to understand. Thanks to Edgar Morin, the scientific vertex comprises interactions and quantities that challenge our possibilities of calculation, as well as living with uncertainties, indeterminations, at random phenomena, chaos, and even luck. What is more, the complexity brought the existence of the open systems. Those who live in a classificatory world or which depend on diagnoses act in accordance with closed systems. If they are opened to include something new, they are soon closed again.

We can select many concepts developed by Bion, some more easily visible than the others, as an example of the relationship complexity open system. For instance, the spectral model of the personality’s psychotic parts/non-psychotic parts, the theory of thinking, the psychoanalytic object, the Grid, the transformations, Memory of the Future, thoughts without a thinker, emotional turbulence, Incision, symmetry, act of Faith, successful language.

Psychoanalysis cannot certainly be a closed system, but we cannot deny that there are trends that treat it this way, some explicitly, others in a dissimulate way.

The psychoanalytic practice is compelled to constantly question itself and to move forward with the knowledge that is acquired with observation. The simple and at the same time complex fact that there are patients who express their pain challenges the psychoanalyst to constantly go back to the Psychoanalysis foundations: practice, theory, epistemology, and ethics, which are ceaselessly interlaced.

Unlike many other disciplines, Psychoanalysis is inevitably open. It is uninterruptedly subjected to the proof of truth that is the listening to the one who is in psychic pain and tries to tell us about it. The analyst’s listening has to be constantly prepared for this function, and here it does not matter the amount of the analyst’s experience. It is a matter of the beginning of an investigation. There is something that is the singularity and that does not allow for accommodations.

With Bion’s work, the psychoanalyst has been launched to the same task of the thinker. His task is neither giving answers nor formulating theories, but examining the irruptions of the several answers and of the many theories in their respective supporting pre-assumptions. The thinker must have and welcome wild thoughts. In the well- known Socratic formula “All I know is that I know nothing”, the thinker indeed lives the not knowing, in everything that appears. For thinking is not knowing. When one thinks he does not intend to know, and when one intends to know he does not think. The thinker is the one who does not cease questioning the roots where, in a crossroad sponsored by the search for truth, the paths of to be, not to, and to pretend to be meet and get apart.

In the discussions that will take place in the International Meeting on Bion’s work in 2018, in Ribeirão Preto, the participant colleagues will undoubtedly meet the Bion who is already known by many, but I sincerely hope that it promotes meeting the Bion that may have been hidden up to now. My expectation is that we can have many wild thoughts.

Bion’d resident thoughts


It is important to point out that the concept of “wild thoughts” comprises two “complementary” questions: the existence of “wild thoughts”, (or “stray thoughts”) and the convenience of their “taming”. What is the meaning of this concept or of this statement? While referring to the Grid, Bion offers us two fundamental assertions: the one that a statement is designed first to bind a constant conjunction and, thereby, to take the first step in establishing it is meaning; and the other, that the statement is never wright or wrong, but only meaningful (p.16).


I think that the first task of a Committee that is organizing a Meeting such as this one, is to “incite” the participants as from the choice of its central theme. In this aspect, I think we are very well served.As a matter of fact, the very idea of “wild thoughts” is in itself a wild thought.


However, let us go back to our main task where the “psychoanalyst” is imagined as a naturalist who enters into the jungle of the mental life armed with his net to capture the “wild thoughts” which are around like butterflies. Bion presents us two of these specimens, both of the shakespeariensis class: one of the cymbelinensis species and the other of the macbethensis species.


Let us see the structure of the first species: “Golden lads and girls all must/As chimney-sweepers, come to dust - Cymbeline, IV,2. And now, Bion asks: “how to excavate this knowledge in the hopes of finding a thought buried somewhere inside it, possibly some wisdom?”


Our first enemy is taking things as banal: “Well, I know very well that we came from dust and to dust we must come!” However, Bion tells us that Hugh Kenner (1923-2003), a literature critic and professor, hearing by chance the speech of a Warwickshire’s female peasant, found out an unexpected meaning, probably common in Shakespeare’s time: “Golden lads and girls” could represent the dandelion which, when its petals fall down, looks like a chimney-sweeper’s broom, then starting to be called by this name.


The second example is part of Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy while producing a mental arrangement, aiming at justifying her murderer feelings in relation


to King Duncan, so that her husband could occupy the throne and she could become queen. She is in the room where the king should enter to sleep to never more wake up, but she ruminates that her husband’s nature, impregnated by the “milk of human tenderness”, did not favor him with the necessary malign instinct to perpetrate the murder which would change his fate.


It is at this moment that she announces the fateful phrase: “The Raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements” (Macbeth, I, V).


The meaning of this prediction is to invite the foreboding bird to be the spokesman of the murder plot, instilling in the mortuary chamber such a macabre atmosphere that even its usually sharp croakingwould sound more ill-omened and soaking in hoarseness. The key elements of this phrase are the raven’s hoarseness and the battlement of the crime scene, which create an atmosphere of horror and mystery, giving rise to “profound and depth-stirring feelings”, as Bion points out (p.33).


Well, the word battlement can be translated into Portuguese as umbral, portal or ameia, has as synonyms the words doorway, doorpost or threshold.This last word designates that gap which was placed above the fortresses walls, allowing the defendersto throw their crossbows, but at the same time protecting themselves, that is,an instance of attack and defense.In Lady Macbeth’s case, the battlement, while being surpassed by the king,would not only be sealing the attack to his life, but also be plotting the defensive alibi created by the murderer couple who had already conceived to stain with blood the valet’s daggers in order to incriminate them.


In short, this battlement symbolizes the transformation of pure innocent milk into the milk poisoned by the evil’s gall. While invoking the mortal spirits, Lady Macbeth claims: “Come to my woman’s breasts and take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers, wherever in your sightless substances, you wait on nature’s mischief!”


The poisoning of a kind spirit by the implacable ambition portrays the fragility of the interior life in face of the seductive siege of the exterior world fragility: in the description of this process, Shakespeare took hold of a wild thought that was tamed 240 years after by Edgard Allan Poe, in his famous poem The Raven.


The main topic of the poem is the imperishable devotion: the perverse conflict between the wish to forget or to remember the beloved woman. The main character is trapped in his chamber, tortured by his conflict, when he hears a tap on his chamber door: wrapped in the lugubrious atmosphere of a glacial night, he feels terrified with the perspective of eternally, evermore, being deprived of the name Lenore, his virginal beloved one.


He then tries to soften his fears, making use of a reassuring refrain, “nothing more”: “nothing more than a late visitor”; when opening his door, he finds “darkness there and nothing more”; whispering the beloved one’s name,he tries to soothe himself by saying: “It is Lenore, and nothing more!”; acquitting the doorway, he turns to the window and calms down by saying: “It is the wind, nothing more.”


However, while flinging the shutter, he is surprised by the presence of a Stately Raven which majestically perches on a bust of Pallas above the chamber door. Confronting that spectrally repugnant figure coming from the plutonic darkness, the main character asks his name in a mechanic and thoughtless way and bewilderedly listens: “My name is ‘nevermore’”.


As from this magical moment, a transformation takes place: the refrain nothing more, whispered by the main character is replaced by the shibboleth “nevermore”, always expressed with conviction by the bird. The mystery of that surreal apparition seems then to predominate, leading the frightened character to conjecture that the Raven’s speech would be a mere repetition of some moan heard from an unhappy owner: even so, a doubt still persisted of being a matter of some enigma which would require deciphering.


Desperate with the unexpected confusion of conflicts, and foreseeing the bird as a prophet or a devil, he begs by the offer of some biblical balm that could relieve his pain and asks if in Heaven he would still embrace his beloved one, but just gets an implacable: “nevermore!”.


Taking this cursed word as a symbol of an irreconcilable difference, he cries out trying to expel the Raven from his house: “Take thy beak from out of my heart, and take thy from off my door!”.However, again nothing happens but the fearful “nevermore!”.


Nevertheless, the Raven stays still on the bust of Pallas, his eyes evoking a dreaming devil and the lamp-light throwing his shadow on the floor. As an epilogue, the main character mourns his sad fate: “And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor, shall be lifted – nevermore”.


In this example, the wild thought does not sway anymore from kindness to wickedness, but from hope to hopelessness, balancing in the battlement that separates the evermore from the nevermore, intercalated by the transactional nothing more. To abridge, it stirs us with “a sort of prototype of a mental reaction”, as Bion says (p.29).


Reference


Bion, W.R. (1997). Taming Wild Thoughts. Ed. by Francesca Bion. London: Karnac Books.


 

BION AND THE MONKEYS


                                               Roosevelt Cassorla (Campinas and São Paulo)


Imaginatively speculating, I met Bion’s ghost (g(B)) again. This time I was not frightened. I heard his resounding voice: 


"... the human being is what I would call ‘very smart’. Some animals are clever; the circus animals, for instance, are able of exactly reproducing a municipal parade. Likewise, you can be sure that the patient will be able of behaving exactly like the analyst – and this is really what they learn to do.  The patient must just go on attending the sessions for an enough long period of time, to have his ‘little idea’ on the analyst’s different weaknesses and habits. This patient can be exactly like the analyst and take care of himself exactly as the analyst does. (....) Consequently, the patients will prefer to restrain themselves, instead of being like the analyst. We can see how quickly the children absorb the parents bad habits. The analyst’s bad habits are reflected, each time, and very fast, in the patients”[1].


G(B) interrupts his speech. His silence makes me boldly ask if he knows that we will discuss his work in the International Meeting in Ribeirão Preto. I realize he is happy when he speaks: "Mr. Junqueeirra de Mattos", the name of his dear ‘ribeirãopretano’ patient.


After that he tells me "I hope that Ribeirão keeps itself Preto (Black)". I do not understand and I am about to be exasperated. These are usual feelings when I meet him. He generously makes it clear: "It has to stay in the Preto, in the Dark, concentrating in itself so as to allow the light to appear. Otherwise, ‘smart’ aspects will hide true facts". g(B) cannot stand his words to be mimicked. I see a solemn tone when he says: "monkeys imitate humans and humans can become tamed monkeys, with better performance than monkeys".


Afraid that he is referring to me, I react saying that he (Bion) has warned us about this risk. That us, Bionians, have learned from him. That “...don’t worry about monkeys’ mimicking on our part”. I instantly regret what I said.


g(B) provokes: "Ah ! Are you Bionians? I haven’t got a clue about what this can be.  Maybe monkeys have”. I feel embarrassed. g(B) goes on: "Getting to know that you have caught it from me doesn’t mean a thing. It happens that one can use the word “caught” as “learned” and specialize in “caught” as “arrested”, as psychotics, police officers, or terrorists do before they kill. [2]Wild thoughts are arrested or exploded before they are thought and thoughts which have an owner are imprisoned in dogmas".  I understand: it is necessary to dream and dream, opening space so that wild thoughts are spread in dreams that challenge them to enlarge their meanings. “Name and address” of the tamed thoughts can be lost and “your” (Bion’s) thoughts are lived as if they were wild, taking hold of our imagination.


I did not risk to share these ideas with g(B) because I suspected he would be angry and would tell me: "How bold – to lose my name and address? This is theft. I have heard about this habit of stealing in your country. I thank you to warn me, even if I can’t do anything because I am no longer alive".   


Afterwards g(B)’s shadow fades out mixing with my dream’s mist. I wake up frightened. I regret not having rebutted the accusation of theft. I would talk about "excavating graves, unearthing, unburying". And I would read him what he himself said: "... the wisdom that lies fast asleep somewhere in the thickets; somewhere buried, not only literally under the mounds of the Zigurat, or the Site of Ur of the Chaldees or Knossos, but what about the Oracle of Delphi? Is that voice in any way audible?"[3] Boldly (now yes), I would say:  we have to "steal" the thoughts and take hold of them.  Take to us our parents’ inheritance. I would show that I am a scholar myself, quoting Goethe-Freud.


While I realized my envy I was able to experience gratitude and to feel I-myself.  I would like to show it and regretted that g(B) had disappeared.  However, the mist comes back and g(B) reappears. He says: "The difficult outline of gratitude made you wake up. Traumas are illusions that demand dream work. Human beings (and monkeys) do not like realizing the complexity of the emotions, of life. Many hallucinate that they have constituted them by themselves and lose the opportunity of transforming debts in grace, gratitude. Good parents donate life, dream, and become rich. Guilt for an alleged theft blocks the capacity to dream. Envy.”


I realize that g(B) had something more to say. "Ribeirão (Stream) is water in movement, what we see is no longer there and what is there we no longer see. We, psychoanalysts, learn this obvious fact". And he adds: "Ribeirão". That it goes on being "Preto", so that the imagination lights up.   


I wake up thinking in the contractual relationships, characteristic of clever monkeys. I daydream of "smart guys" who adhesively identify themselves with the “powerful” ones of the occasion.  Column 2, fifth column spying creativity in order to destroy it. I heard or hallucinated g(B)’s speech:  "....paralyzing basic assumptions, that made me get to Los Angeles. Freud had to leave. Meltzer and I chose. One must decide, such as in the war: fight, win or die, or leave…, to start again”.


I feel moved. I remember a Czech colleague narrating: "When the borders were open, many arrived by car up to where the frontier guards used to stay.  They stopped and could not go ahead”.


I would have enjoyed listening to g(B) at that moment. The room for writing has finished. I hope g(B) comes back. Fortunately, I am quite sure about something: Bion will be in Ribeirão Preto, inside us and among us.  


 


[1] Schultz, LMJ (2010). Comments on an interview: Bion and the method. Alter-Revista de Estudos Psicodinâmicos [Alter- Journal of Psychodynamic Studies] 28: 141-154.


[2] Translator’s note: The game of words used by the author is quite efficient in Portuguese, but would be meaningless if literally translated into English. My free translation is an attempt to pick up the author’s idea and adapt it, transporting it to the English language.


[3] Bion, WR (2016). Domesticando Pensamentos Selvagens [Taming Wild Thoughts]. São Paulo: Blucher-Karnac, p.51.


 


 


 

Imaginary chapter in the book "Ur's Tombs" of future memories. About wild psychoanalysis and wild thoughts.


ROSEMARY: I think the wild is the rough thing, as the crude meat, the raw vegetables and greens, recently picked, the eggs with the dirty eggshell with shit. It happens in the preparation of an invented dish with those elements, without following any food recipes, before serving on the reception table, decorated, adorned, but sometimes, cool.


ALICE: I’m really sorry about your ignorance!!. Wild comes from the Latin, SILVESTRIS, “It refers to bush, forest, jungle”. It hasn’t been domesticated or nurtured by the men. That isn’t refined, educated or nurtured.


ROSEMARY: During the preparation of a recipe, there isn’t refinement. The place can seem to be dirty, disorderly. The conversations of the employees  are not educated neither sensitive, but they are truthful, real and pertinent. There, all of them seem to have the psychoanalytical vocation, because of the acute and insightful observations about their employers.


ROLAND: The employees of the court practice a wise “Wild Psychoanalysis”.


SHERLOCK HOLMES: Entering in the network of intrigues, lies and falsities to find out facts and evidences  of the reality, is a temptation.


P.A: Do not mix up Freud’s warning in 1910, about the Wild Psychoanalysis and what I try to say with Wild Thoughts. The adjective is the same, but the concepts are very different.


Our science is ineffable, but it’s necessary to take care of the conceptual framework precision.


Freud alerted us about the risk of trivializing, simplifying ridiculously our difficult task, applying theories and diagnostics in a wild and  coarse way.


The Wild Psychoanalysis advises us about the resistances and the hate to our science-art, rooted in the unconscious of the own professionals who practice it.


In the place of the sensitive and mysterious feel and contact with the patient’s mind, the professional uses the hammer in order to put out the ice, the resistances and the symptoms. The heat of the relationship would better help to melt the ice.


The Psychoanalyst is like the Archeologist. They can break treasures. The creative tropism, the psychoanalytical part of the personality, the human pre-conception, the life forces can wither.


Only the books don’t support the analytical identity. The new Psychoanalytical treatment, in some personalities with special gifts, are the fundamental pillars to refine the instrumental tools.


The wrong technique can be justified with sophisticated rationalizations in vogue that grow as pests, communicated in articulated language. Concepts, used as an arsenal of jargon, can have the function of distorting the reality about what is really happening in the analytical relation: inter subjectivity, enactment, psychoanalytical field, plasticity, creativity, pictogram…


But what is really important - the unknown of the patient can be untouchable.  He has the right of being the patient, and the analyst must practice his function good enough, in the asymmetric relation.


In some times, the entertainment of madness between both of them, is perpetuated in iatrogenic “interminable analysis”.


ROSEMARY: And how someone, ignorant as am I, can choose an ANALYST?


P.A: In front of the sphinx, the question was: Who is a Man?. For the Psychoanalysis the question is who are you? Your question reveals wisdom and the recognition of your ignorance that open the roads of knowledge. You will be a great ally to your analyst!!!


To choose an analyst, don't be based on the awards, the degrees, the leadership positions. They can blind you with a false brightness. Belonging to an institution can be a necessary condition, but it isn’t enough. The establishment can deform the professional instead of educating him.


You must choose the human being in the professional. And remember that the mental deterioration is frequent among the PSY professionals. Our work is fascinating, but it’s highly unhealthy. It’s important to assess, at each moment, the mind condition of the professional, permitting him to penetrate in deep waters. Realizing the course of the river, as Heraclitus said is important. Nothing is definitive nothing lasts forever!!!


PRIEST: Man, how has it occurred that name "Ur’s tombs" for that book? I listened a speech about eternity...


MAN: The idea of eternity is dangerous; if it’s used with fanaticism it’s mortal. The vitality of the wild thoughts can be buried. The lost thoughts may be entombed.


MYSELF: Now my dream is to go to Pasárgada [1], or not, to Ribeirão Preto - hot land - that place is familiar to me because I worked with Dr José Américo Junqueira de Mattos in Los Angeles. Today I’m happy to consider him as a member of my Profissional Family.


He is a passionate dreamer, a man of courage. He fought with the establishment, he was a pioneer - with another colleagues - to establish the first Psychoanalytical Society in the countryside of São Paulo State; he legitimized the condensed analysis in a country with the dimension of a continent, Brazil isn’t an island. He also looked for my supervisions all over the world in order to study them. These days his daughter Gisèle de Mattos coordinates in São Paulo a Group with that purpose.


What does that Group experience with my work talking about those sessions?


How are the results of those planted seeds?


I’m curious!!


I hope to find in Riberão Preto an interesting meeting, with confrontation, debate, learning, discussion, a cradle of new ideés mères!!!


I hope not to be buried, because of the idealizations and the madness of the supposed false followers in the tomb of glory, as a GOD.


 


[1] Poem ‘‘Vou-me Embora pra Pasárgada’’, by Manuel Bandeira

PSYCHOANALYTIC ATTITUDE


 


In the present work, I try to take advantage of my trajectory as a psychoanalyst; I will make use of this dimension in order to point out the way I see the elements that matter in my theory and practice.


It is, then, a matter of a personal attitude, a unique one, that goes on developing throughout the clinical and theoretical exercise in Psychoanalysis, which are intimately linked and inter-influential.


I propose that the encounter of this psychoanalytic attitude is a consequence of countless and almost infinite factors, some of which I am getting close to and some I am getting away from, that have already been close and useful. I will now try to describe some of them, in the extent of my mental strength allow it.


I intend to accomplish an essay in the same way it was discovered by Montaigne (1533-1592), where strong and definite conclusions are not present: I hope that what I write can serve as motivation for the psychoanalytic heritage of each of us.


Most of all, I do this because the psychoanalytic attitude is an ongoing whole, that didactically comprises a stable, central part that influences and is continually influenced by light and swift factors that appear in daily life, either in the clinical and practical dimension, or in the theories I approach and have some understanding of; as I said, always ongoing. Even so, there is a central and stable dimension, that in my common sense seems constant and on the margin of the daily life.


The central theory I make use of favors the present emotional experience in the psychoanalytic encounter and from which conceptions and understandings derive until they form a personal psychoanalytic theory


Beyond a shadow of doubt, the author who influences me most in the last thirty or forty years is BION, with his extensive published work, that keeps being transformed by me at each approach I make of it.


I think that the core of my clinical attitude can be affiliated to the idea of learning from experience that appeared in a book in 1962. From then on I think there is a period of “honey moon” with the theory of learning from the present emotion, where “the present emotional experience” was the whole of the clinical work. Past and future, as well as the facts in themselves, either shared or reported, little importance presented to the development of thinking, that took place by accumulation of α elements, place from where the knowledge grew.


The “honey moon” lasted for many years, but was progressively being infiltrated by other psychoanalytic elements that are in another dimension other than the present and “pure” emotional experience of learning with the present experience and nothing else.


This new set must necessarily comprise and englobe learning from the present emotional experience; it must necessarily comprise it, but it is more complex than it; it shelters varied dimension, some of which I will present ahead.


This set constitutes a heritage; each of us is born with part of it, and it keeps developing as our life experience and our Psychoanalysis experience in particular goes on. It is incorporated to our mental attitude and powerfully influences our approach to the present. As I see it, each time the mentioned heritage offers a new angle, and this new angle is practically unconscious. The heritage I am referring to is not available to my conscience and to my reasoning in special. It is not for my conscious use, but it is installed and constitutes my personality, from where “who I am” is derived; it would be better to say “who I am now”, if I approach the theory.


A strategic and vital consequence of this understanding is manifested in the current choice in our Psychoanalysis Institutes. Day by day, the major and central interest makes its way to the graduate’s personality, which lost the Paradise of being neutral or resolved without influence in what is lived. From this proposition it derives that each of us, in a unique and personal way, sees what life is like. For this reason, we prioritize and perceive as important the clinical and theoretical part that we “create” and that will constitute the psychoanalytic heritage of each one, shared while it is published. The publication occurs in several ways, one of them happening now, for instance, by means of this writing that is intuited, apprehended and examined by the other.


As time goes by, I approach a revolutionary proposition that has been made explicit by Bion since the decade of sixty, and that is progressively being perceived: it can be synthetically be written nowadays: I suppose that Bion’s conception that the thinking, the consequent knowledge, happens by an emotion. The emotion as the basis of thinking revolutionizes and subverts the old conception that thinking takes place outside the emotions area. I believe that this revolution cannot be accepted in a peaceful and easy way; minute by minute, it provokes returns to the area of the rational thinking and that is all. Admitting the reason, the rationality, as an elaborate way of thinking, is in progress by fits and starts.


I now open a division where one part is talking about Psychoanalysis, which is what I do now, and the other part, another dimension, is the one which refers to making Psychoanalysis, living Psychoanalysis, which takes place essentially or exclusively in the clinical Psychoanalysis, in the psychoanalytic session.


The analysand’s psychopathology nowadays, as a consequence of this position, loses strength and essence, opening way to the Psychoanalysis which is centered in the present emotional experience, that clinically depends on the angle, or dimension, or bias, in which I place myself and I value, making use of my heritage mentioned above.


I think that each of us, either in clinical or theoretical activity, will make use of the dimension of talking about Psychoanalysis outside the psychoanalytic practice, as well as living and carrying out the dimension of being in Psychoanalysis inside the practice. In these dimensions we have the favorable condition of realizing how unique and personal our attitude is.  In order to achieve that, we need the capability of enduring what the other sees and intuits, in the situation that is necessarily different from what I see and intuit.


I name “respect” an element that is essential to Psychoanalysis and that is centered in learning from the present emotional experience; as in case we disrespect the other while different from us and if doing so he is no longer a person, it is not possible to learn from experience, as we certainly will make use of the memory and the desire to characterize and to name what we perceive. It is never too much to remember that this is valid for me and for the other; it is valid for the analytic couple.


Madness, stupidity, psychopathy, psychosis, neurosis, regression, transference and countertransference are names that are frequently used to replace respect and understanding in face of the other who is different from me. I propose that my psychoanalytic function is not to clarify to the other the “right” or “normal” which is inside me. The psychoanalytic attitude is to participate in the experience in the ongoing psychoanalytic encounter.


The most frequent clinical descriptions that I used to make in the past, but that once in a while I still do in the present with my analysands and that are based in theories of personality based in certain psychopathology compatible with the same ones, were progressively getting an understanding that they are derived from the interest and focus that I make use of. So to speak, they are born from the encounter in order to shape and strength themselves. They are, I think, a consequence of the clash of two personalities there present.


I strongly agree that the analysand is seen today by means of my psychoanalytic attitude that shapes my always changing psychoanalytic heritage. It is through this heritage that each of us intuits, perceives and deduces the mental characteristics of the one who is before us.


I insist that in contact with the analyst the analysand will be attracted to what prevails in the analyst’s mind. Bion says many times in his work that the area of the analytic work is where the knowledge (K) takes place. It is forbidden to the analyst, while working with the present emotional experience, possibly shared with the analysand, to live and prioritize the personal dimensions of love and hatred, as by themselves they do not lead to the emotional knowledge.


The institutes of Psychoanalysis, in particular the one in our Society, where I militate and exert influence, offer to the analyst varied learning dimensions: training analysis, supervisions, clinical seminars, theoretical courses, in addition to convivial experiences in groups for most of the activities. With this, it is expected that each of us dive into the environment in order to build a personal and ongoing psychoanalytic attitude, which happens every moment, including in this moment when I present this writing, hoping it is a drop of this attitude.


Each of us, ceaselessly and actively, goes on harvesting some elements of this offered immensity and is shaping his own conception of Psychoanalysis. It continuously aggregates factors and discards others, already existing, but that lose the updating; they are no longer in use. The essential and basic factor of this construction is made in an unconscious way, and as such cannot be objectively presented.


In my experience, it took me many years so that I could formulate a dynamic set of elements, which is what I realize as central and essential, as heritage, and that guides me in the practice and consequently also in the theory.


I will just point out that the core of my interest, when I am a psychoanalyst in agreement with myself, is what I call emotional experience, hopefully shared, at least partially, a basic and essential factor to learn from experience and to develop thoughts that always live with elements of “non-thought”, that constitute what I call psychotic function of the personality.


After that I mention the jolts and jerks that Bion, and afterwards myself suffered, each of us in our own way and with our own heritage, with the arising of the theory of transformations; of functions that go beyond knowledge; or functions taking place differently from the emotional experience (K); elements that sometimes are called the “being” in the whole life, even before the biological birth; and of dimensions that go beyond the traditional field of the present emotional experience, basis for the thinking and the α function. Inserted here are the ideas of thoughts without a thinker, of wild thoughts that we try to tame; of other functions that are in the area which is neither conscious nor unconscious, etc. etc. I propose that these elements aggregated to the theory of present emotional experience derive from the difficulties that we go on settling in the practice, which restrain and sometimes hinder the act of faith; these added new elements try to be a complementation of the previously presented theory of the emotions; they try to supply them with new dimensions.


Within this psychoanalytic attitude, I added the act of faith that allows me to be available for the lived emotion. The act of faith creates a kind of “strength” to keep me in what I apprehend from the lived present.


I think that now I can wait for the consequences of what I am presenting and, if it is the case, comment on some points of interest, by using my point of view of the occasion.


As immediate stimuli for what I write here, I point out my unpublished text prepared for the opening lesson in our Institute in 2017. In addition to that, W. R. Bion’s text “Taming wild thoughts”, translated by Luiz Carlos Uchôa Junqueira Filho.

THE KNOWN, THE UNKOWN AND THE UNKNOWABLE


Julio Frochtengarten[1]


We move forward slowly in relation to our knowledge – this is the feeling that we immediately face when we glimpse at our lived years. However, an even quicker reflection, a brief glance at a history book of any sciences, soon makes this notion relative, and then we perceive some achieved gains, some little learning, changes in the way we see the things of the world.  Our short existences frequently do not allow us to give dimension to our own advancement, either in terms of knowledge, creative capability, or originality.


Knowledge always advances at the expenses of breaking limits that impose themselves as they do not account for the realities that are presented. Psychoanalysis has also been made in this way, both in the clinical practice and in the theories.


In the last decades, the enlargement of the notion of a mental domain that goes beyond the restrained conscious and unconscious, and of the id-ego-superego structures, has been amplifying the possible field of actuation in the psychoanalyst’s daily routine, transforming the possibilities of the clinical work and of the theoretical production. Wealth, creativity and new ideas are the gains I get with these expansions. In spite of them, we continue to use the same word “mind”, but this is just a way to refer to something we do not know. No matter which conception we have about what mind means, it is certain that feelings and other formulations – ideas, imaginations, dreams – acquire expression as from something unknowable.


Our psychoanalytic concepts are a way of organization of what is experienced in the clinical practice. They give order and coherence to the psychic reality, that is, they give meaning and sense to it; they consolidate what is known and what is assumed in relation to the mind and are accompanied by the feeling of cohesion that allows us to deal with what starts arising in the ambit of knowledge. Yet, while abandoning what is known, making myself receptive to what I do not know, is the result of an effort against the habit and the understanding. But the known reality – and many times unknowable – is there: it is necessary to have eyes to see, ears to hear, unsaturation to intuit, receptivity to welcome. Discipline is needed for us to become close to what Bion said about his own work: “the dominant feature of a session is the unknown personality and not what the analysand or the analyst think they know” (Bion, 1970/1973, p. 96). Finite formulations are formed as from this raw matter, the unknown primordial mind, “the rising world of waters deep and dark, won from the void and formless infinite”. (Milton, J, apud Bion, W. R. Transformations, 1965/2004, p. 176).


This is a dimension of the mind that starts being known and that lives together with others, either known or not. The interpenetration and simultaneity of the conscious and unconscious, of the dream in the vigil psychic life; the presence of fantasies built in childhood in all the aspects of the current life – are marks of the simultaneity among the mind’s diverse dimensions.


I admit that having adopted these extensions – the notion of an infinite unconscious and the multidimensional dimension of the psychic functioning – we are taken by disturbance for the loss of known references, either our own or the ones of the larger psychoanalytic group we belong to. The interpretation, our tool par excellence, shows itself in its limit of reach and possibility. It is not just converting the unconscious to conscious, not just “where it was id, shall be ego”, not just the attribution of meanings. Another tool for the analyst’s actuation in the session must be developed and characterized: an attitude that is receptive – or that even favors – that may arise in the session, in the pair work, what is not yet known and that “urges to exist”.


The interest in what is not known is a clinical attitude on the part of the experienced analyst which disposes him to the receptivity and submission to the infinite of the experience. On their turn, the psychic apprehensions which derive from that are the basis in which it is possible to proceed in a work with the analysand, but that do not dry out what is not known: on the contrary, it enlarges the unknown.


The characterization of a receptive attitude in relation to what is not known has been formulated more by the negativity than by the assertive revelation of its qualities. Freud proposed that the analyst would need to be “artificially blind”; Bion (1970/1973) proposed that the analyst would have to work without memory, desire or understanding.


By exploiting some affirmative elements related to such attitude in the clinical practice, I find out the following points:



  1. Adoption of some few and wide psychoanalytic theories, to function as a surveying of the experience, taking part as mediations in the submission to the infinite and favoring the evolution of the feeling and emotions for thoughts.

  2. The use by the analyst of the Language of Achievement (Bion, 1970), in the extent that a well-aimed formulation – as rare as it can be – by provoking uneasiness, can make the unpredictability evident and can open an unsuspected enrichment of the immediate experience (Frochtengarten, 2015).

  3. As a model to think the analytic function in face of the multidimensional mind, I consider the flâneurie as a prototype of what can be named observation in the modern times. Walter Benjamin, the philosopher of Modernity, supported by Baudelaire’s poetry, makes use of this model in order to refer to someone who walks, apparently distracted, but attentive to the details of the city and its inhabitants, trying to infer the feelings and intentions which drive them.


I think that this model assists the psychoanalytic vertex in a better way when compared to the one of the investigation, as it considers unknowable dimensions of the mind and not the pursuit of traces supported by already acquired knowledge. The flâneurie has what is not known as a radical foundation, allowing us to come close to the multiplicity, to the ephemeral, to the beauty of the accidental, the instantaneous and the transitory.  (Frochtengarten, 2016).



  1. Can welcoming occasional Wild Thoughts (Bion, 1997/2016) which arise, following them as a flâneur and taking them as threads of thoughts, contribute to the accomplishment of our Oedipus paraphrase - “where there was ignorance, there will be knowledge”?


Perhaps there is a paradox dictated by the insurmountable distance between what is possible to know, being immerse in the experience, and the essence of the experience – that, by being unknowable, is never known and will never be. Can the naive model of flâneurie, “without memory, desire or understanding”, by means of the Wild thoughts, come to our aid and decrease this distance?


 


Referências:


Bion, W. R. (2004). Transformações. Rio de Janeiro: Imago. (Trabalho original publicado em 1965).


Bion, W. R. (1973). Atenção e Interpretação. Rio de Janeiro: Imago. (Trabalho original publicado em 1970), 1ª edição.


Bion, W. R. (1991) Uma memória do futuro. São Paulo: Martins Fontes; Rio de Janeiro: Imago, 1991


Bion, W. R. (2000) Cogitações. SP, Imago Editora, 2000.


Bion, W. R. (2016). Domesticando Pensamentos Selvagens. São Paulo: Blucher-Karnac. (Trabalho original publicado em 1997).


Frochtengarten, J (2015) Nos limites da representação: comunhão, fruição estética e prazer autêntico. Trabalho apresentado em mesa redonda, no XXV Congresso Brasileiro de Psicanálise, outubro de 2015, SP.


Frochtengarten, J (2015) Comentários ao trabalho “Wilfred Bion e James Joyce: um encontro estético” de Celso A. V. Camargo. Trabalho e Comentários apresentados em Reunião Científica da SBPSP em 25 de fevereiro de 2016.


 


[1] Full Member and Training Analyst of the Brazilian Society of Psychoanalysis of São Paulo.


 

Taming[1] wild emotions[2]


Cecil José Rezze[3]


“Cambridge International Dictionary of English” registers: Tame v(T) *It’s hard to tame a tiger. *He’ll need to tame (=control) his temper if he wants to succeed.


I freely translated the verb “to tame” into Portuguese by domar, that corresponds to the two senses, at least in accordance with the references presented above. The first one considers taming a wild animal taking Bion’s book title – Taming wild thoughts – in the sense of taming an  animal’s strength, such as the one of a tiger. Concretizing, we will see the proposal of a factual risk of facing a wild thought, as equivalent to a tiger, something of wild in the human animal, that can put our lives at risk. The second sense considers the feelings that need to be tamed (controlled) and the equally dangerous situation of dealing with the soul, spirit or mind when the emotions are wild.


As for the wild thoughts, I chose an extract from the book “Seminari Italiani”[4], (1983, p.77) [“Italian Seminars”] that turns to be a question that one of the participants asked about the theme. I believe that the question and what follows allows for the understanding of the concept.


 “I thought the image with which Dr. Bion began his presentation last night was very beautiful: one quite expected to see wild thoughts floating around in the room. But afterwards I wondered whether these thoughts were an emanation of the Holy Spirit, and, if not, what is Dr. Bion saying? I then expected a solution to the mystery of the beginning of St John’s Gospel, which would tell us where the Word was and help us to understand how it had been made flesh. But none of the rest of what was said helped me with this, and, in particular, the long discussion of man difficult acquisition of the language, starting from grunts, confused me. I felt hat this beginning was contradictory: in a word, does God - or whoever - grunt or does he speak?”


Another participant tries to speak, but stops in the middle, because “there are lots of noises in the room”. After that Bion starts answering questions and signals something linked to “so much noise in the room” (Rezze, (2006, 2009).


We can consider the described participant’s speech as a wild thought. We can also take into consideration that in “Learning from experience”, Bion considers knowledge as making part of the emotional bonds such as love and hate, therefore, thinking will be part of the knowledge bond, although it is not clear to what the emotion of knowing or thinking corresponds to.


If we consider the exasperate questioning that emerges in the group with its consequent fragmentation, we can assume it operating not as a work group, but under the presupposed of fight and escape (Bion, 1970).


As for the operating bond in the chosen situation, we can consider that there is a fragmentation of the knowledge bond and the arising of intense experiences of violence, aggressiveness and frank actuation determining perplexity and confusion among the elements of the group.


Therefore, we can consider the episode as having had the intervention of a wild thought, but I believe that the determinant factor was the  participant’s emotion, who felt Bion’s intervention as a wild, subjugating, threatening, violent, aggressive, destructive thought determining a violent response that paralyzed the work group. There was not quite the time to have a thought, but a time for an emotional reaction, although its expression in verbal terms had consistence and clarity.


Mainly in his supervisions, Bion values the importance of the wild thought, possibly as an original source of creativity, and invites the people present to participate and express their wild thoughts, at least as I believe it occurred, although in my view his invitation rarely produced the desired effect, perhaps due to what I am considering, that is, the wild emotion. I suppose that in situations such as this one, where one is in contact with the great master - Bion -, violent emotions such as the one of reverential fear, the apprehension of intervening with feelings and ideas that may be considered insignificant, lead people to consider their participation as what would be the fear of catastrophic change, in Bion’s terminology.


I consider that in Psychoanalysis there was a magnificent development of theories about the personality, with Freud, Klein, other authors, and their followers. In Bion’s work we have an original theory of thinking, that subverts the traditional knowledge and that places us under the impact of thinking the thoughts, developing a psychic apparatus to do it. The authors start from the emotion, particularly Bion with the unsaturated concept of emotional experience, keeping a scientific bias of Psychoanalysis, possibly originating from theories by Locke, Hume, and contemporary authors such as Schlick, .........


However, I must consider that we do not count on a theory that deals with emotion and feeling, although all the authors refer to them, as for example Bion, who proposes a Grid in emotions. Nevertheless, in his book “Elements of Psychoanalysis” (Bion, 1966), presented in twenty chapters, he proposes just in two chapters that the grid in knowledge is also related to the emotions, although in a tenuous way, if we consider the consistence given to thinking when he deals with knowledge.


I have been trying to think about it and I verify that the emotion or the feeling, which are usually dealt with in Psychoanalysis, is the pain. Bion points out that this is indispensable to Psychoanalysis, not because there is any virtue in living in pain, but because it is inherent to the human being. By subverting this order, without contradicting it, I have been pointing out the indispensability of pleasure, in the specification of authentic pleasure (Rezze, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016, Rezze and Braga, 2016).


 


Tradução para o Inglês Margarida Troncon Busatto, revisão técnica de psicanálise Dr. Alexandre Martins de Mello


 


[1] In the text “Taming wild thoughts”, the verb used is “to domesticate” (Bion, 1997).


[2] Presented in Conversas Psicanalíticas, on June 24, 2017


[3] Full Member and Training Analyst of the Brazilian Society of Psychoanalysis of São Paulo. Doctor in Medicine from the Medical School of the University of São Paulo.


[4] Translation by Renzo Birolini. 

THE DOMESTIC CAT AND THE BIG FELINE


Júlio César Conte (Porto Alegre)


I woke up, it was still dark and I could not say whether what had haunted me had been a dream, a hallucination or something else. My thoughts contained something of a dream, of a hallucination, and of something else that I could not discern. The thought that woke me was this: the domestic cat dreamed of being a big feline.


I opened my eyes and it was dawn. For months I had been concerned by publishing something about Wild Thoughts, but nothing had yet occurred to me. I let idleness take advantage of the bed as I recalled a rather obscure experience conducted with cats. I could not identify the source, but I knew it was from a research on the physiology of dreams in which scientists ablated parts of the brain responsible for inhibiting motor response. The consequence was that by suspending inhibition, the body would be free to react to the stimuli provided by the dream as if the subject of the experience were awake. As a result, these domestic cats, victims of the cruel experiment, reacted to REM sleep by repeating movements of big cats while hunting. Sneaky approaches, races, jumps, and all sorts of hunting repertoire used by lions, tigers, pumas, and leopards.


In the mists of awakening, I had a glimpse of something I had been searching. Through a pictorial thought I encountered a kind of representation/sense/meaning of a wild thought. One can imagine that there are tamed, established thoughts, recognizable and made solid, carriers of identification cards, with the author's name, address and ID. We are also confronted with familiar thoughts, that nevertheless have unknown property to the thinker, and beyond, wild thoughts in which the feeling of being on primitive, violent and original ground is produced.


Every tamed thought would be wrapped in a rigid, calcified shell, but if we could advance upon fibrosis, clichés, ossification, and the established, we would be at risk of finding the deep infinity of thought at the core of our being. Wrapped in the fog of dawn, we would run into the big cat, roaring, face to face with amazement and surprise. Within tamed thoughts lies the untamable. Bion's struggle against satanic jargonism and mental clichés is notorious. The cat may be a cliché, but behind the clichés there lies an inexorable truth that has become known, palatable, acceptable, and tamed. From the thoughts inserted in the narratives of our patients, in the daily routine of the social, in the apparent banality of daily life, primitive violence has been removed, there remaining a purified and pasteurized something that is institutionally accepted for mass consumption. Poetry can deteriorate in use and repetition at the same time as, popularized, it becomes vulgar. As if we could, of an idea, extract its poison like decaf coffee, alcohol-free beer. We take away what would cause discomfort; the excess, by taking away what awakens, arises, dawns us. 


In this perspective, perhaps, wild thoughts are not an original element that is short in the market, but an invariant, a clandestine constant that survives in every statement. The observer thus is enabled to recognize such thoughts as he is introduced and inserted in the truth of the transference. In search of a psychoanalysis implicated in opposition to the one explained. The thinking involved survives the skirmishes of authoritarianism, institutional discourse, clichés, and commonplace. In Volume I of the Memory of the Future, Bion questions: if psychoanalytic intuition does not provide a reserve for wild donkeys, where will a zoo be found to preserve the species?


Bion held: the words serve to confound, but are also able to communicate, although unintentionally. The wild of thought would thus be revealed. Barthes says that the subject, in speaking, does not communicate, but rather exposes itself.


That's what I do here.


Personal bonds, reverie and alpha function derive from an ability to receive the wild from exposure. To make contact exactly with what makes sense, unites us and reveals itself clandestine in its indomitable origin. The essence of thought.


I have given you a fragment of a dream, a hallucination or something else, because I think wild thoughts connect with our stranger. The same that plunges into the navel of dreams that inhabits us. And they do not respect another language but this. 


 


Tradutora: Angela Silveira  


 

“Wild Thoughts:  A Dream and Follow Up”


by Avedis Panajian, Ph.D


In a community, everything was ruined and was an amazing scene of change and destruction. It was a very colorful destruction, and I knew I had some role in it. There were many people around, some of whom I recognized from my childhood. In the midst of all the destruction, I began talking to them and said, "not to worry, we can still cook eggs" I said this but did not see any eggs. While we talked, we were looking and walking among stunning artistic ruins, and there was a lot of yellow liquid all over the ground. The slippery substance was splattered everywhere and had a consistency like egg yolks. I started lifting and putting pieces of the ruins from one place to another. Again I noticed just how widespread the yellow liquid was: it was staggering to me. The whole scene looked like a painting of a landscape in destruction, a beautiful piece of art in ruins. The people and I continued walking together and none of us were worried. I then told a few of them, "now we will wait. When it is ready it will come to us and then we will write, create, make. When it is ready." I knew they understood what I meant: they grasped that my words had to do with the art of timing. I felt I was a gentle director or a community leader for them, with nothing in me except the feeling of groundedness that follows creation. 


Now, as I write this, this last moment in my dream seemed a perfect one in which to die. But if I had, I would have not known the dream or my non-flamingo mind, or my son that I also miss. These were some of my thoughts at first, then a few more followed. A beautiful nothingness, or cow shit coming out of me as fertilizer. A landscape and a mind with a million pounds of slippery yellow stuff in it. I was arranging nothing to nothing, but the timing was key, as was the yellow formlessness of the liquid. I now feel I will save this cow shit. I am on a liminal journey into a new nothing, between journeys, waiting in a formless form with order but without safety. Full of imagination without images that mean anything. I am waiting, patiently and calmly, and am enjoying the aesthetic formless form that came to me with no meaning, except the message that something was going to burst forth from me. I am looking forward to it.”   


Soon after I wrote this dream, I was dissatisfied with what I had written. Being dissatisfied in telling and writing wild thoughts allows me to open up to a fuzzy horizon in my dreams that makes an impression on me that resists verbalization. Once I write about wild thoughts, something freezes in me and is lost. Ironically, being aware of such a loss allows me to see a new horizon and a new beyond where wild thoughts become possible again. I am able to approximate the sense of the beyond through which images, colors, touch, rhythm, music all became possible as aspects of my imagination.


My telling and writing of the dream gives the erroneous impression that my experience of it was contained. In writing it, I was trying to hold and contain the yellow yoke-like substance that had no form and kept slipping from me. It’s formlessness was extremely painful to perceive, and I was anxious that it was going to disappear from me. I was anxious not because of my experience in the dream, but because of the elusiveness of the beyond. In writing about it, I was trying to figure out and grasp the yellow liquid and the entire abandoned landscape, but it was not possible. Whenever I tell and write about my experience of the beyond, the immediacy of it is lost. Words create a wound, and always create a distance from the immediacy of my experience.


The anxiety and the fear I felt about the dream was also partly due to its imaginal possibilities. It was my attempts to both deny and face these possibilities that led me to anxiety and fear. I did not feel these feelings in the dream: it was only weeks later as I was recalling it that these feelings came upon me. Each time I attempted to revisit the dream, what I perceived in it reignited these feelings in me.


Wild thoughts offer a journey of possibilities, but writing and elaborating about the possibilities is a way of deceiving oneself about these potentials. The vague, the ambiguous, and the inarticulate need to have a significant place in our psychic life.  There was so much that resisted articulation of my dream.  


The imaginal that is perceivable through the beyond and generative of our wild thoughts requires respect. It also needs to be approached with a pre-cognitive and pre-perceptive attitude. In the dream, I was telling the people to “wait and when it is ready, it will come to us.”  Anticipating my temporary feelings of groundedness (and anticipating their dissolution) led me to wish to die so that my death would make permanent the transient nature of such powerful feelings.


In crossing, and in between, there is timelessness and suspension. One is neither on one side nor on the other. I feel the symbolism of birth and rebirth is strong in this space. Being in between destroys continuity and cohesion, and our need for form and structure in the midst of this blinds us to the anxiety and dread that such a state evokes. The negation of our need for articulation and our capacity to welcome paradoxes and ambiguity allow the possibility of birth and rebirth.  


The risk of imaginative narratives and images is that they can conceal gaps, disjunctions, and the nonexistence of objects. The fragmented body is mainly revealed in dreams. Imagination tries to avoid disjunctions and unarticulated realities, while memory protects us from overwhelming perceptions. Memory also plays a role in delusional unity. For instance, a dream where there are childhood friends conceals the intensity of psychic pain that might otherwise be perceived the dream.  

Approximations between Wild Thoughts and Primitive Moral Consciousness


 by Gisèle de Mattos Brito


We may be dealing with things which are so slight as to be virtually imperceptible, but which are so real that they could destroy us almost without our being aware of it. That is the kind of area into which we have to penetrate.”


Bion (1976, p.246) 


 


While reading Bion’s A12 supervision, among innumerous important aspects that it addresses, I felt that I was before a precious material that could help us think and, who knows, collaborate to the expansion of his ideas on the primordial mind.


Yes, these vestiges of proto-thoughts lived in the body, mentally uncontained sensorial experiences due to the impossibility of representations, and the issue of wild thoughts emerged as ideas. I intuited, faced with the Supervision material, that we could make an approximation between wild thoughts and the primitive moral consciousness. This idea was highly stimulating. I sought to reread about wild thoughts and primitive moral consciousness, dimensions of the primordial mind.


In Bion’s last works (1976-1979) he conjectures and delineates the existence of a primordial mind. This primordial mind, according to Bion (1979) is part of the Self, which comprises body and mind. His observation vertex is somatopsychic, he conjectures, at all times, the existence of exchanges, communications from one field to the other. I had the impression, corroborated by reading the aforementioned Supervision that, at the same time he believed that prenatal fetal experiences would remain inaccessible after the caesura of birth, on the other hand, he seems to believe that those same experiences leave traces, vestiges shaped as hostile feelings transformed in proto-ideas (Bion, 1976, p.245), that is, the term fetus could, indeed, have a mind, a personality.


It is curious then that at the same time Bion refers to this dimension of an inaccessible mind, he points out his belief in the existence of mental vestiges, memory traces. Even though he distinguishes this dimension of an inaccessible mind from a more organized one that would work on a conscious/unconscious dimension of the mind, he says:


“It seems to me that there are certain premature and precocious developments that are too premature and too precocious to be tolerable. Therefore, the fetus, the id, does its best to sever that connection.” p. 237


Bion (1976) seems to dive deeper in this issue. For example:


“However, there is now an added layer of this phantastic belief that something has been got rid of. But suppose that it is not forgotten, that it simply becomes part and parcel of an archaic mentality, unconscious thought - in spite of the contradiction in terms - which is extremely active” p. 241 (emphasis added)


What was Bion unconsciously talking about? My impression is that he is talking about an unconscious connected to our phylogenetic heritage, something mentioned by Junqueira and Braga (2009). “Our phylogenetic heritage would be added to this, which in a powerful image emerges as us being ‘living archeological specimens’ having buried in our mind a knowledge from previous generations. ‘Ownerless thoughts’ and ‘wild thoughts’ would be forms in which this primordial mind would wind over our conscious/unconscious system.” p.12 Something unconscious (phylogenetic) would win over our consciousness/unconsciousness? The Id? Like the big cauldron of impressions, preconceptions?


Bion (1977) defines wild thoughts as a “strayed thought”, one of the forms of thoughts “without a thinker” which may or may not be contained either by the mind of the patient or by the mind of the analyst. It will depend on the capacity of the pair to develop a container so that the horrific experiences may be contained and lived in that moment of the analytical encounter. He points out the importance of analytical containment by the analyst on Supervision A12; of continuing to be firm, present for the development of the condition to transform the terror into a bearable pain. He points out the peculiarity and usefulness of psychoanalysis, in other words, useful emotional experience is the one happening in the relationship, in the moment of the emotional experience and that if patient and analyst believe it and don’t give up, they’ll be able to harvest improvements from such a peculiar and powerful conversation.


Junqueira e Braga (2009) point out that the dimension of the primordial mind comprises the ‘ownerless thoughts’, the ‘thoughts without a thinker’, as well as the feelings of being ‘alone and entirely dependent’, the primitive moral consciousness and the ‘urge to exist’, “constitute manifestations identified with the primordial mind, rooted in brain and glandular pre-natal function, allowing us a glimpse of a dimension of the mind that is inaccessible with the caesura of birth.” p.3


Well, based on the above considerations, I ask myself: is the caesura of birth, indeed, inaccessible to us? Aren’t the thoughts without a thinker and the wild thoughts records of thoughts of which we are unconsciously aware? That is, an unconscious knowledge connected to this archaic mentality, unconscious thoughts of which Bion makes reference above? And that would become accessible from our emotional experiences when these thoughts stray and evolve from O? And these same feelings and thoughts erupt in the mind and are lived as terrifying thoughts?


Bion (1977) “I want to consider the peculiar state of mind in which we are when we are asleep or, as is also frequently said and which has even become commonplace of psychoanalytic thinking, when we are unconscious, meaning by that when we are in a state in which we are not aware of our thoughts and feelings - or not quite.” p.176


If we can be unconsciously aware of our thoughts and feelings, can they erupt as memories in feelings that could be the catalytic vestiges of thoughts without a thinker? Better still, the wild thoughts themselves? I have the impression that that is the bridge between the primordial mind and developments after the caesura of birth. That is, the unconscious consciousness as the rod that can fish these memories in feelings, wild thoughts, enabling their irruption to the mind. What moves me toward this direction is the perception of the terrifying qualities of these thoughts added to the patient’s perception of ideas felt as a strange body that threaten, cause guilt, and that the patient does not know where it comes from.


I brought up some conjectures. What was emerging in the patient’s mind was indicative of the possibility of us being in front of a wild thought? Was the patient desolated by primordial, unreachable states of mind, which he could not express symbolically? A frightening emotional state of mind lived in the frontier of body and mind, proto-thoughts? A beta element which could not be contained, transformed and that needed to be evacuated? Was he suffering in the body through sensations, evacuations, terrifying states of mind (vestiges?) that needed to be evacuated?


Bion (1977, p.192) says: “The past is not important, because you can do nothing about it; the only things about which you can do anything are the remnants, the vestiges of the past, of past states of mind or archaic parts of our physical make-up - the branchial clefts, the vestigial tail etc., our simian ancestry - but it is possible to make use of these vestiges that are discernible in the present if we allow ourselves to discern them”.  A little bit further, he adds “I am trying to look at something else, to hear something else, to be open to something else - vestiges, mental vestiges ”. Mental vestiges? Terror? Guilt?


Junqueira and Braga (2009) help us in the conceptualization of primitive moral consciousness. They say: “In our elaborations, we identify four fundamental hypothesis combining in the configuration ‘Primitive moral consciousness’, which bring us needs of approximations to the psychoanalytical theories: (1) the fetus experiments different sensations (proto-emotions and proto-ideas) with the terrifying quality, being able to register them in the brain, but without having a mind to deal with them. The terrifying quality would be the record of this flood, lived as annihilation of what is felt as life; (2) a nucleus of registry of these experiences of “turning into nothing” is formed, whose stimulation is imperiously avoided. To this end, a prohibitive entity is formed, a primordial morality that tries to avoid the reliving of these experiences; these terrifying records are vivified in subsequent experiences of possible transgressions to the impositions (hallucinated) of a primitive, predatory and arbitrary entity – a primordial morality; (3) the projective identification mechanism is already available to the developing fetus; and (4) there is a caesura connected to birth that makes this primordial records inaccessible to the developed mind, with the qualities of consciousness/unconsciousness.” p.27


We face an inaccessible dimension of mind which operates in the frontier between body and mind and of which we find vestiges in the patient’s “associations”. Aren’t these vestiges, “thoughts”, an unconscious knowledge that erupts in the mind? This is the fundamental conjecture I propose to ponder with you.


--


References:


Bion, W. R. (1976). Emotional Turbulence. F. Bion (Ed.). Clinical Seminars and Four Papers pp.223. Abingdon: Fleetwood Press, 1987.


__________(1976) On a Quotation From Freud. F. Bion (Ed.). Clinical Seminars and Four Papers pp.234. Abingdon: Fleetwood Press, 1987.


__________(1976) Evidence. In:  F. Bion (Ed.). Clinical Seminars and Four Papers pp.239. Abingdon: Fleetwood Press, 1987.


__________(1977) “Taming wild thoughts”. In The complete works of W. R. Bion. Vol.X.  London: Karnac.


__________(1979). Making the best of a bad job. In:  F. Bion (Ed.). Clinical Seminars and Four Papers pp.247. Abingdon: Fleetwood Press, 1987.


___________(2000). Cogitações. Rio de Janeiro: Imago Ed.


Freud, S. (1912). Notas Sobre o Inconsciente em Psicanálise. E. vol. XII, Imago Ed, Rio de Janeiro 1970.


Junqueira & Braga (2009) Growth and Turbulence Container/Contained. Bion Continuing Legacy-2013. Edited by Howard B. Levine and Lawrence J. Brown.





Gisèle de Mattos Brito


Antônio de Albuquerque, 156/910


Funcionários- Belo Horizonte- MG


Cep: 30112-010


Tel: 31-32253574


gisele-brito@uol.com.br




Wild thoughts: A conceptual and clinical approach 


Darcy Antônio Portolese,


Psychiatrist and Didactical Analyst at the Brazilian Society of Psychoanalysis from São Paulo


The analytical experience, the thing itself, the basic thing, the fundamental thing, is something worth keeping, and therefore something possible to communicate to people next week, next year, next century and maybe even three hundred or for hundred years from now. The idea is not to inform them, but to make them able to realize the kinds of thinking pathways that will surface in front of us, probably for a long time, if any of us is still here to see.( Wild Thoughts, pages 47 and 48) 


I think this book summarizes a life of deep experience and transformation of the Psychoanalytical Method related to its Object, properties and contents. The Wild thoughts representing a patrimony with its still unknown and unexplored potentials within the human and scientific sphere. 


If we get, for example, the myth of the Ur’s tomb: “Related to the plunderers of this tomb seeking a rich treasure: The Aristocracy was buried together with the wealth of the Court, and with them members of the help that were buried alive with the wealth.” This is an analogy that is related to the idea of a space that contains living and dead elements indistinctly. This is Bion’s line of thinking, with the Life that is potentially present and that urges to be maintained and developed in the analytical process. Let’s see: 


 “... page. 51: The wisdom that lays asleep in the bushes; sometimes buried not only literally under the stack of earth of the Zigurat, or in the graveyard of Ur from the Chaldeans or Knossos, or even in the Delphic oracle?” 


 In the Paris conferences (1978) Bion emphasizes the issue exposed in this book when it reports to the attention of the analyst to the rising of a spark that if blown may be turned into flame, where the presence and constant attention as an alert guardian that brings to the analyst a great responsibility, but at the same time sense of hope facing the unknown, that under the mantle of wild thoughts reveals something and potential to be unveiled, transformed and vitalized. 


The building of the Grid (1963), published with Wild Thoughts (1977) and here in this publication, seems to synthesize two moments, but with a continuous development line of the Intuition practiced in the use and exercise of this instrument developed by Bion. In Bion’s Grid, part of the most archaic and constitutive elements (the β elements) that will be transformed in α elements what in its base reveals an intimate connection of the transforming power of the analytical relationship. In the Grid the β elements are in the apex of the vertical genetic axis. The Grid exercise where the analyst uses data from the session, in the absence of the object allows the development of his intuition. Intuition occupies a vital ingredient in Bion’s work. In Learning from Experience (1966), in chapter XXII he points out that the investigation has to be processed with both Experience and through Intuition giving room to the imagination, where the emotional ingredients will fertilize the field to develop Knowledge. 


I believe that here the emotional Experience is now the essential ingredient in the field of Knowledge development. In Transformations (1965), chapter VI Bion elaborates: The unsatisfied narcissism prevents love to be extended to the objects...”. It’s implicit that Narcissism to be satisfied, or for the emotional nourishment needed to the development comes from the emotional experience. In a Conference in São Paulo the theme was “After all, what is the emotional experience?”. I remember that to emphasize this essential component where Bion’s Psychoanalytical Method is based. I think that this question is extracted from the thoughts of an important philosopher who influenced his conceptual work, namely Kant’s concept of the “Thing in Itself”. He conceptualizes the “thing in itself” as something we cannot get in direct touch, but we can think about. Here we get to the concept present in this book: “Imaginative Conjectures”, used by Bion. 


Bion’s Method dives in deep Waters, still, his Method allows oneself to dive in the deep Waters of the Mind. For example,  


... there is continuity between the full term fetus and the child, even if the continuity is either kept or broken by what appears to be a Synapses, or diaphragm or screen, in such a way that the primordial thought of the fetus is projected on this Caesura and reflects, going from the child to its more primordial levels of thoughts and feelings. Through this permeable membrane, there is a contact in both directions; the caesura is a transparent mirror...” (Talking to Bion: Bion in New York and in São Paulo, Imago, 1992) 


It is worth noting Bion’s respect for the psychoanalysts founders of Psychoanalysis: The broadening he does in the former citation about the Narcissism (Freud), that also contains Melanie Kleins’s Positions, when it refers about love extending towards its objects.  


His concern extended to questions related to saturation expressed in the discipline of memory and desire, as well as that the known Science does not saturate or immobilizes the development in face of the Unknown, obstructive element of Knowledge. 


In Dawn of Oblivion, from the Trilogy A Memoir of the Future (1979), we will quote a significant part: 


P.A. ... And Juqueri (asylum)... – Since the reason was a very bad Director. The so called logic laws were a recipe for chaos. They did not allow any room for vitality. Even nowadays it would be a still born, in case it did not found refuge, in what Alice would call madness, or –  


P.A. Every institution is dead, namely as all lifeless objects, they follow the laws and under laws and are understandable within the limit of human understanding. However, since these Institutions are composed of people and individuals, who are susceptible to development, the Institution begins to give in to the push. 


Full Term: My uterus also did this, I had enough. My fear of having my life taken compels me to compel the uterus to submit to my counter-push. 


P.A – It is more a disposable science, than a religion that is not. I do not have more difficulty with a scientific theory than the difficulty of an insect leaving its old shell. I admit that some of us have ideas as exoskeleton. 


Doctor – Brains that similarly to feeding channels emit facts instead of ideas, or even “Escape of Ideas”. When thoughts would be necessary, articulated thoughts. 


 P.A – I think that it is a pressing problem when the articulated joints are so rigid that the individual does not think. Borrowing a little bit from my friend’s medical terminology: A mental osteoarthritis.  


Bion’s work goes toward exercising and deepening the Intimacy development. Transformations in O represent a conceptual evolution, because it includes the emotional experience as the construction’s foundation. In Experiences in Groups (1961), in the Basic Assumptions he wonders: “Where do the plants look? Why do they look at the sunWhat components are necessary to photosynthesis or Source of Life?” The same question fits for us where do we look or do not look at the essence of the analytical contact? If Bion was alive I think He would answer “Read Shakespeare’s The Tempest, talk to Caliban, the Wild native who owned the island 


 


Repercussions in the Clinic 


                                           The clinical description is based on the experience with two patients (patients A and B) with long years of analysis, still ongoing. I believe I believe it was possible to access deep layers of both their minds, that we can describe as getting in contact to deep, primitive areas that allowed developing creative bonds, which were responsible for the emotional development of each patient. Thanks to the development of a “familiarity” to Bion’s work these constructions were possible. 


 


Patient A: “The story of two bacteria” or the Phagocytosis phenomenon: Patient is approximately 35 years old. 


In this session the patient starts talking about experiences he had in two emotional relationships. Talks about his experiences starting with “I” and continues expressing his theories. He keeps explaining and I start feeling certain “uneasiness”, and bit by bit I realize that I had been incorporated and engulfed by his way of thinking, emerging an area of undifferentiation between us. The “I” became “Us”. His ideas and thoughts were also attributed to me. I thought about this phenomenon observed as the phenomenon of Phagocytosis, in which a bacterium gets close to another one, projects pseudopods and engulfs the other. “The other side of the caesura revealed a primitive way of thinking, equivalent to the nourishment of undifferentiated organisms such as certain colonies of bacteria, seeming to me a characteristic expression of a parasitic kind of  bond”. 


A while later the patient says he is feeling a thin pain, and a feeling of void and loneliness. I think he has developed a separation between him and the other, since the object is no longer engulfed as a possession and domination object. The analysis’ evolution showed the deconstruction of a hallucinatory mental configuration, that was generating a pseudo emotional fulfillment.  


 


Patient B: “The Blackberry, the gravid egg and the Morula”: patient is approximately 30 years old. 


The patient arrives a few minutes late, greets me in a friendly way and lies on the divan. Then he talks about his father in a worried manner, because his father was complaining about getting old and tired. Getting on with the session the patient was talking about a rumor of voices that was coming downstairs from his office, where there was a manicure parlor. He was annoyed because he used to leave the door ajar and the noise was getting to his office. He tells me that every day he has lunch and sits in an armchair in his office, and often masturbates and takes a nap... whit time, listening to the patient starts to appear in my mind an oneiric image that takes the form of a sprout, that gets the shape of a Blackberry, something that was encysted, glued to a tissue that seems to me a Gravid egg, adhered to a uterine wall and then a morula (... in Embryology the morula is the first stage of development of a animal embryo). I tell the patient that the embryo of something alive seemed to have been born between us, a fertility bond...! 


The patient gets surprised with my remark and says the he also thinks it’s amusing that from all he had been telling me something alive would rise, and I notice, also surprised facing  the unusual, that something ineffable had happened in this meeting. 


The triad Blackberry – gravid egg – Morula starts to represent the primeval stages of mental life that rose “from the deep waters of the emotional contact” and gets a representation and language, that makes possible the creation of a bonding alphabet. 

The Crucial and the Possible in “The Shape of the Water”: 


a dialog with the book “Taming Wild Thoughts” by W. Bion


Sandra Luiza Nunes Caseiro 


What is crucial for an analyst to be with his or her analysand in a substantial way? Does the dimension of what is "possible" encompass the territory of what is “crucial”? These are perennial questions throughout Bion's work. Questions that will not attain a simple affirmative or negative answer. Bion did not leave us answers either. He would not be Bion if he did. However, he pointed us the route he navigated: he searched his own mind, encountering multiple dimensions and several territories. One of these territories he explored was "the land of wild thoughts”, where he found a wellspring of new possibilities. It is about this land that I will try to make some comments, perhaps obvious ones. 


Any wild thing can be perceived as threatening. So, how to be prepared to deal with "wild thoughts”? What does it mean to be prepared anyway? To face a harsh cold weather, warm clothes. To satiate hunger, food. And to be, as an analyst, substantially there for my analysand, what would it take? 


I believe that approaching "the land of wild thoughts" requires to restrain oneself from charting any “mental course” as the first movement. To wander away, no matter where one might go, and to let it come, whatever it may be. By reaching this state of mind we may encounter many thoughts floating through our minds and through the room. Which of those would be the “wild" ones? 


The adjective "wild" used here does not refer to any characteristic of the thought itself. It is not necessarily about a primitive or bestial thought. “Wild" encompasses any quality of thought: primitive, animalistic, psychotic, and even some very sophisticated ones. Because "wild" is enlightening some particularities of the bond that I establish with the thought, the "between" myself and the thought. The thought meets me or I meet it and, on an impromptu of my conscience I am aware of it. At the moment of the "improvised awareness" of the thought, I can feel it as an insignificant shadow on the horizon that I could not even say whether I really saw it, or as a tsunami that frightens me and which I quickly get away from. From the "shadow on the horizon" to the "tsunami" there is a spectrum of different possibilities for the quality of the bond that I can establish with the given thought. If I am able to formulate questions, the observed thought may reveal itself as a new specimen, as a fossil; hence, I can approach it and formulate imaginative conjectures about it. 


I will take the movie "The Shape of Water” - which received thirteen nominations at the 90th Academy Awards, winning an Oscar for Best Picture - directed by Guillermo del Toro as a metaphor for our subject. The film is an abundant source of metaphors for many of the subjects studied by psychoanalysts and by Bion in his work. But I will only discuss  our "little" vertex: the "Wild Thoughts".  


The film takes place in the turbulence of social changes in the United States and the political and military conflicts among the great powers in the 1960’s. An amphibious humanoid (Doug Jones) is captured in the waters of the Amazon River by Colonel Strickland (Michael Shannon) and taken into a laboratory in the United States, where he would be studied by Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg), a scientist who was also a Russian spy. In this laboratory, Elisa (Sally Hawkins), who was born mute, works in the cleaning staff. She is a very close friend of her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), who is homosexual. At work, Elisa's best friend is Zelda (Octavia Spencer), who is African American. 


In our metaphor, the amphibious humanoid is our "Wild Thought" and the other referred characters will be taken as representatives of possible mental states that we can have before it. Colonel Strickland captures the creature in a predatory, disrespectful and aggressive way, guided by intense desires for power. He does not care about what he has captured, whether if it is alive or not, if it feels pain or if it suffers. The only thing that matters to him is if the "thing" will grant him more power. Zelda, the Afro-American worker, perceives the creature in a tenuous way and does not get much involved with it, continuing her life without any major changes. Hoffstetler, the scientist, understands that the amphibious creature is an unknown specimen and feels respect and curiosity for it, he sees how valuable it would be to study it, but he cannot escape the web (in some seminars Bion uses the term "Vogue") in which he is entangled: he is, after all, a Russian spy, caught in a conflict between international superpowers. Throughout the story, Elisa demonstrates she has a free and unprejudiced mind. Her best friends are Zelda and Giles, whose peculiarities - an Afro-descendant and a homosexual - made them targets of intense prejudices by the others, prejudices that Elisa does not carry. With a naive curiosity, she respectfully tries to get closer to the amphibious humanoid, wanting to know him, to communicate with him. Their closeness evolves into a partnership. Elisa and the amphibious humanoid become a creative couple, whose bond offers each other the possibility to genuinely be who they truly are. Colonel Strickland has a heavy mental state full of desires, which leads him to desecrate his encounter with the creature. Zelda has a certain indifference, perhaps wishing that nothing changes. Her greatest involvement with the specimen comes from her bond with Elisa. Hoffstetler achieves clarity about the event, but cannot get rid of the well-known context he is surrounded by. But Elisa has the freedom of mind to meet the creature while bearing doubts, fears and the possibility of never being the same person again. 


For my own "wild thought", the term "domesticating" - for which the word taming was translated into Portuguese - does not please me. Because it is not that it becomes my captive. It is about me becoming a guest in its habitat. As a tamer of wild horses or the cleaner of an amphibious humanoid's aquarium, I have the opportunity of establishing a bond of respect with the savagery, the strength, the new, and the difference of another being. And in this quality of bond, by returning to more familiar territories I can elaborate a language, a translation of our publishable adventure for both myself and the other. 


It does not matter if the story comes to an end. What matters is the movement and the direction of the movement in the story. The couple "Elisa and the amphibious humanoid" is representative of what is crucial in an analysis session, not always fitting in the dimension of what is “possible”. 


 


Sandra Luiza Nunes Caseiro 


SBPRP ME Psychoanalyst 


sancaseiro@gmail.com  

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