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406 French Freudians: Integrating Kleinian Thought – 5 seminars

Seminar Leader: M. A. Fitzpatrick Hanly, PhD

Course Description

This Course will help candidates to formulate an interventional strategy, especially with patients suffering from object loss and separation anxiety. The Course will focus on psychoanalytic theories, which demonstrate how to apply the concepts of “primal scene”, “narcissistic economy and primitive sexuality”, “melancholia”, “maternal depression”, “separation anxiety” elaborated by French Freudians, using the theories of Klein and Bion.

Course Objectives

Candidates will learn how to:

  1. Interpret important contextual and systemic factors that facilitate or impair human functioning (1.1) by interpreting the patient’s conflicted wishes and warring internal objects, to facilitate elaboration and insight in to fears and wishes so as to relieve a sense of unreality and difficulty in relationships.
  2. Understand and implement a fundamental theory of change and how to assess the impact of trauma on psychological function (1.2): in the case of a suddenly and severely depressed mother, interpretations help to make unconscious emotions and fantasies conscious, helping the patient to mourn, and releasing the patient from maladaptive defenses which have caused impoverished relationships.
  3. Use the knowledge of key concepts in the theory psychoanalysis (1.3) : to understand the associations and enactments and to formulate a direction for the therapy in clarifying the splitting and facilitating a re-integration (4 i).
  4. Integrate the knowledge of important factors in the patient’s psychopathology (1.3), to understand a patient’s defensive splitting of a ‘bad mother’ and ‘idealized father’, in order to facilitate the integration of the good and bad parents and to alleviate the need to self-punish.
  5. Maintain, and remain sensitive, to the analytic setting (4.2d): to analyze the transference, understanding the patient’s provocations as they are registered in the counter-transference to ensure safe and effective use of the self in the therapeutic relationship.

Seminar 1

The primal scene and the therapeutic process

This seminar will teach the overlapping of the French Freudian and Kleinian theories on the ‘Parental Couple’ in the mind of the patient, and on the early maternal dynamics in the Oedipal guilt in the female patient. The papers will show how the integration of theories from two schools indicates a core understanding and approach to analyzing the derivatives of unconscious memory/fantasy complexes, to facilitate the patient’s remembering, repeating, and working through.

Required Readings

Chasseguet-Smirgel, J. (1991). The Oedipus complex today: clinical implications. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 72, 727-730.

Chasseguet-Smirgel, J. (1970). Feminine guilt and the Oedipus complex”. In Female Sexuality: New Psychoanalytic Views. London: Karnac Books.

Laplanche, J. (1980). Primal scene. In The Language of Psychoanalysis (pp. 335-336). London: WW Norton.

Seminar 2

Narcissistic pathology and primitive sexuality in the early maternal infant relations

This seminar will discuss a clinical vignette to demonstrate the extent to which the narcissistic parts of the personality, and the symptoms which arise from these, are fundamentally linked with the unconscious fantasy of the primal scene (the parental couple) in its most primitive and condensed form, as well as the extent to which the perpetual oscillation between the two poles of libidinal investment, the constant swing from narcissistic libido to object libido, when blocked, will result in narcissistic perturbation. The seminar will show how, in the course of analysis, this frequently leads us to the fragmented and archaic sexuality of early infancy. The seminar will demonstrate how analytic attention to this primordial link between the two libidinal expressions will avoid a clinical as well as a theoretical impasse, and the working through will lead to change.

Required Readings

McDougall, J. (1982). The narcissistic economy and its relation to primitive sexuality. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 18, 373-396.

McDougall, J. (1980). Chapter 13: Plea for a measure of abnormality. In Plea for a Measure of Abnormality. New York, NY: International Universities Press.

Seminar 3

Severe maternal depression: impact on the child’s psychic functioning

This seminar studies a key formulation in psychoanalysis: the effect on a child’s psychic structure and psychodynamics of a suddenly depressed mother. With a mother’s depression the child goes through phases of denial and disavowal of affect, and adopts (unconsciously) excessive narcissistic and intellectual defenses. An ‘alive’ analyst who takes a gradual approach to the painful loss and self-blame in the internal world, helps to make unconscious affects and fantasies conscious to facilitate lead a renewed mourning and release from maladaptive defenses and impoverished relationships.

Required Readings

Green, A. (1996). The dead mother. In On Private Madness. London: Karnac.

Seminar 4

The Taming of Solitude: Separation Anxiety in Psychoanalysis: clinical approaches integrating theories

This seminar will teach the integration of important French and Kleinian theories of mourning and melancholia (depression), separation anxiety, the introjection of the loved and hated lost object, analysis of the self-reproach, which is unconsciously against the introjected lost object.

Required Readings

Quinodoz, J. (1993). Chapters 4, 5 & 6. In The Taming of Solitude: Separation Anxiety in Psychoanalysis. London: Routledge.

Seminar 5

French Freudians on Depression and the internal depressed object

Required Readings

Denis, P. (1992). Depression and fixations. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 73, 87-94.

Torok, M. (1994). The illness of mourning and the fantasy of the exquisite corpse. In Reading French Psychoanalysis. London: Routledge.

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