Monday, November 8, 2010

Free-associating an internal democracy

That's what a symptom is; it's a repetition, an unconsciously motivated self-prediction (and by the same token, the 'patient' in psychoanalysis is cured when his past is no longer of particular interest to him). At best we flirt with our own unpredictability through our symptoms; at worst we are over-contained by them. Inhibition stages this as a drama. It is not always, or only, the inability to do something; it is also a cover-story, a protection against, not quite knowing what it is one wants to do. And what one might turn into, what one might feel, in the doing. The inhibited person, that is to say, has the most acute sense of the experimental nature of our acts. Of how doing something, doing anything, consigns one to the future, to the irreversible. To a future of unknown feeling; to the shock of the unprecedented.

When Ferenczi said the patient is not cured by free-association, he is cured when he can free-associate, he was acknowledging the very real difficulty everyone finds in sustaining and making known an internal democracy. People literally shut themselves up in their speaking out; speech is riddled with no-go areas; internal and external exchange, as fantasy and as practicality, is fraught with resistance. Psychoanalysis reveals just how ambivalent we are, to put it mildly, about freer forms of association (from a psychoanalytic point of view there is no such thing as a free enterprise.). And this must surely be where the analyst comes in. If the so-called patient is deemed to be suffering from one form or another of association-anxiety, presumably the analyst has something up his sleeve, so to speak, for precisely this predicament. - Adam Phillips, on psychoanalysis‏

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