Thursday, January 7, 2010

The 'Hanging-On Bite': Assumptions, Paradigms, and Conceptual Barriers -- The Need for Deconstruction, Reconstruction, and Multi-Dialectic Evolution in Classical Psychoanalysis

I would like to go back a bit and remind people of what I am trying to achieve here in each and everyone of these essays...hopefully, with you on board. 

I am trying to break old assumptions, conceptual barriers, theoretical barriers, paradigms...and in the process, bring in new, more bipolar, more multi-bipolar, and more pluralistic-integrative-mutative-evolving assumptions, concepts, theories, and paradigms that are more reflective of  the way the world works aso opposed to theories et al that do not bend or move or mutate or evolve when nature does... 

Stated differently, we are trying to find new ways of resolving old, unresolved, and seemingly unresolvable, conflicts based on the old, 'either/or' -- 'my way or the highway' -- mentality.

By doing this, ultimately, we are trying to solve both conceptual-theoretical and pragmatic, day to day problems -- at the same time.

For those who are more open-minded, we are trying to build new conceptual and pragmatic bridges aimed at 'rising above and over' conceptual and pragmatic gaps in thinking, feeling, and behaving between people who support different assumptions, different concepts, different theories, different paradigms, as marked out by the 'boundaries' or 'barriers' that separate them, many or most of them, of which are man-made. 

We are trying to build new 'dialectic-gap-bridging' assumptions, paradigms with flexible, integrative, overlapping conceptual and theoretical boundaries that more properly recognize, accept, and respect opposing polarities in nature..   

Theoretically, I am a constructionist, a deconstructionist, and a reconstructionist -- all at the same time, or in sequential order. 

In Hegel's Hotel, there is room for almost every theorist and every theory, because almost every theory contains its own particular 'focus and range of truth value', as well as its own particular 'focus and range of limitations, distortions and truth-errors' that lie outside its focus and range of truth value. This 'proclivity for error is inherent in any 'one-sided, unilateral, or singular theory' -- that misses opposing points of view, and opposing truth-value which lie outside of the proclaimed theory'. 

My main mentors for understanding the dynamics of this built in tendency towards error through the use of man-made concepts and theories were and still are: S.I. Hayakawa, Alfred Korzybski, George Kelly, and last but not least -- G.W. Hegel. I will now add to this list an essay this morning from the realm of physics ( follows along in the Hegelian mold that  'everything is inherently contradictory.' (The Science of Logic, 1813). 

The physics essay referred to above was written in the journal 'Foundations of Physics', 1996, by John Earman called 'Tolerance for Spacetime Singularities', and includes a reference to Einstein's 'intolerance of singular theories' which includes the idea that singular theories are incompatible with nature and as such invariably carry within them 'the seeds of their own self-destruction' (based on their limited sample of nature which does not adequately cover the more 'limitless domain of nature'. In this manner, the bi-polar theory of 'particle-wavelength theory' which turned into 'Quantum Mechanics' superseded the previously functional 'singular' theories of first 'particle' theory, then 'wavelength' theory which both reached the end of their limited boundaries and 'destructed' once they passed them into the realm of 'more limitless nature' became 'theoretically dysfunctional'. Both Einstein's 'General Theory of Relativity' and 'Quantum Mechanics' -- the two most productive theories of the 20th century have likewise now seemed to have reached the boundaries of their 'limited truth value and functionality'. 


If the creator and owner of a particular theory puts up a 'rigid, anal-retentive, conceptual boundary', and protects this boundary with 'conceptual, dogmatic narcissism' -- like a guard dog protects its owner's property -- reason, logic, deconstruction, reconstruction, and proper integrative evolution becomes 'kidnapped', 'locked and blocked' from expanding its proper, rightful 'diversified and integrative freedom' -- we have put a 'chastity belt' on an idea so that it cannot have 'sex with other ideas' -- we have unrightfully imprisoned an idea that can no longer have its proper  'dialectic intercourse' with other imprisoning and/or suppressing our wife in an effort to block her from seeing and meeting other men...The conceptual narcissist puts a burqa on his ideas so that his ideas remain 'faithful' -- uncontaminated by by engagement, discourse, and intercourse, with other ideas... (added July 16th, 2011)

Narcissistic -- kidnapped -- ideas are blocked  out of any normal rational discussion and debate pertaining to the value and/or dis-value/pathology of their particular conceptual meaning and/or their potential integrative evolutions...(Added July 16th, 2011)

In the words of Fritz Perls, we will call this a 'hanging-on bite'A 'pitbull bite'. A 'lock-jaw bite'. 

Freud had a hanging on bite. He was constantly changing his own theories and concepts -- he was very 'evolutionary' in this regard -- but woe be gone any of his male co-workers who tried to be creatively evolutionary in their own right. Freud would generally reject the idea harshly if it stepped outside the tight, anal-retentive boundaries of his own biological -- and sexual -- reductionism. When Jung tried to turn the 'libido' into meaning  a more general 'life energy' rather than just 'sexual energy', Freud would have nothing to do with this 'broadening' of the concept of 'libido'. Exit Jung, stage left. (Added July 16th, 2011)

As an independent theorist, I know something about what Freud was going through at the time. When it comes to my theories, I'm partly a 'conceptual control freak' -- just like Freud was. I don't want first this theorist, and then that theorist, to suddenly turn my 40 years of painstaking work into something I don't even recognize any more -- something I don't want to attach my name to anymore.

Sometimes we have to protect our own thoughts, values, and conceptual-theoretical-boundaries -- even with a Pit Bull's Hanging On Bite -- if we believe strong enough that what we are asserting is 'right' -- or better than any alternative idea. To be sure, in Freud's defense, this was what he was doing. (Added July 16th, 2011).

However, usually, I believe, a 'dialectic integrative mixture of flexible liberal-conservativeness or conservative liberalness' is better than either the extreme of 'rigid, anal-retentive conservativeness' or the opposite polar extreme -- 'totally permissive liberalness -- with no righteous hanging-on-bite at all'. (Added July 16th, 2011).

If I had been Freud back in these critical debates with Jung, I would have said something like this to Jung: 'Look Carl, I respect you and your work alot. I want you to stay on board with me, even though we disagree on some key critical theoretical concepts and theories. I suggest the following: that I distinguish my work by calling it 'Freudian Psychoanalysis', and you distinguish your work by calling it 'Jungian Psychoanalysis'.

Freud could have said the same to Adler, and let Adler freely develop 'Adlerian Psychoanalysis'.

Would this have been any different than what eventually happened with Melanie Klein -- who may not have represented as much of a 'masculine ego threat' to Freud's 'sensitive masculine ego'? Klein's work became referred to as 'Kleinian' or 'German' -- as opposed to 'Freudian' or 'British' Psychoanalysis'.

Perhaps Freud was getting too old and sick to want to argue at this point in his late life. Regardless, some of the British psychoanalysts such as Jones liked Kleinian Psychoanalysis which would eventually be called 'Object Relations' which for some psychoanalysts further evolved into 'Self Psychology'.

Historically, Freud was obviously less threatened by Melanie Klein's work than he was of  most of his male associates -- and ex-associates -- notably Jung and Adler.

Meanwhile, in another case of 'sibling rivalry' or 'same sex rivalry', Anna Freud was obviously more threated by Klein's work than her father was. It would seem, interpretively speaking, that Anna didn't want Ms. Melanie Klein taking over her own esteemed place in her father's eye...As Nietzsche would say, 'Human...all too human'....) Added July 16th, 2011.

Therapeutically speaking, we all need to usually do a better job of both 'being strong in our own, individual ego or self boundaries' while at the same time recognizing, accepting, and respecting the boundaries of others. Not many people can do both these tasks equally well. Generally speaking, we are either too strong in hanging on with a Pit Bull's bite to our own self-conceptualized ego/self boundaries -- 'the rigid, conservative, anal-righteous/anal-rejecting/anal-schizoid personality'; or conversely we are too weak in this department, bending any which way the world wants us to bend like dandelion seeds blowing in the wind of whatever we think people want and/or expect from us -- the ultimate, 'liberal, self-denying, socially-permissive, oral-receptive, approval-seeking personality' that just wants to be liked and/or loved and will do practically anything and everything to try to get this approval and/or love.  (Added July 16th, 2011)

We don't all have to be the same -- nor do we want to all be the same -- our Creator didn't make us like robots on an assembly line. There is value in 'self and social diversity'  -- 'evolutionary value' -- which hinges on our ability and willingness to tolerate and accept individual differences in the community to the extent that these differences do not transgress on the civil rights and freedoms of others living in the same community. (Added July 15th, 2011)

There is also value in the principle of 'diversified unity' and/or 'unified diversity' -- a principle that I didn't properly understand back in the 1980s when I was asking myself how Freud could believe in the underlying principle of 'conflict in the personality' and Adler could believe in the underlying principle of 'unity in the personality' -- and they both be speaking about the same general 'body of clinical evidence' from which they took their seemingly dialectically opposite assumptive, theoretical conclusions. (Added July 16th, 2011.)

It took me a long time to figure out how both 'socially perceived unity' and 'underlying self-conflict' in the personality could conflate together in 'neurotic symptoms' and 'compromise-formations' that if you looked at them closely enough, you could see the presence of 'conflicting unity' or 'unified conflict' such as in a 'dirty joke' reflecting an 'allusion' that often both hides and alludes to a 'sexual proposition'.  (Added July 16th, 2011.)

Hanging on bites are not always bad -- it depends on what is being defended.

Most of our current civil rights and freedoms can be traced back to different wars in our heritage where we had to fight to gain them -- and/or to keep them -- such as The American Revolution, The French Revolution, The American Civil War, World Wars 1 and 11...

Marin Luther King had a hanging-on bite and yet he is viewed as one of the greatest 'Equal Rights Social Activists' in the history of mankind. We look back at him with the greatest of honor, dignity, and respect. Why? Because what Martin Luther King was 'hanging on to' -- despite monumental and life-threatening dangers -- was critically important to the present and future well-being and harmony of mankind.

However, some people with hanging on bites can have extremely pathological and dangerous beliefs and values. These people -- as well as the beliefs and/or values that they hold -- can be very dangerous to society, to the harmony and well-being of mankind. We have seen these types of personalites 'power themselves to the top' of  political, military, and/or religious organizations'.
And in between, there are people -- probably most of us -- who hang on to a mixture of good and bad beliefs and values and provide a 'mixed picture' of what we are talking about here.

Life -- and natural, evolving, changing, mutating structures and processes -- always manage to find a way to 'squeeze into the gaps' that are left behind by all of us who are not trained to think differently than in the mold of the often stagnified 'either/or', 'right or wrong', 'good or bad', 'us or them', mentality.

This 'either/or' mentality is based on the old Aristotelean system of logic -- classifying plants, animals, vegetables, minerals, and things according to a system of A  or not A; B or not B -- the principle of ''identity' and 'non-identity' -- A cannot be B, and B cannot be A. 'Cows' belong to 'Class A' and 'horses' belong to 'Class B' and 'Class A' cannot include 'Class B' or the reverse: a cow cannot be a horse and a horse cannot be a cow -- and never the two shall meet. (However, I have seen a 'cabbit' -- a mixture' of 'cat' and 'rabbit' on 'The Johnny Carson Tonight Show, I think it was. And I know for a fact, that in certain parts of Southeastern Ontario -- out by Belleville, Kingston way -- that we have 'colves' -- a genetic integration of 'coyotes' and 'wolves'.)  Added July 16th, 2011.

Thus -- and presumably Aristotle missed this genetic and/or philosophical possibilty -- 'A' and 'B' 'copulate', either 'physically' or 'metaphysically' -- in which case, you move on to a new brand or branch of logic --  'Hegelian dialectic evolutionary logic': A and B 'integrate' or 'synthesize' or 'mutate' to become a new 'synthesized phenomenon' -- such as a synthesized race, culture, civilization, religion, political party, school of philosophy or psychology, concept, theory...'  (Added July 16th, 2011.)

The Aristotelean system of logic which is a system of logic that we all grew up learning, is a system of thinking and a system of logic and a system of 'classifying things' that simply does not mimic all of life -- particlarly the 'evolving, mutating' part of it. It is not a system of logic that -- in the words of Korzybski -- is 'structurally similar' to endless mutations and integrations of life. Aristotelean logic may be useful to a point but beyond this point -- the point at which multi-dialectic-mutation and evolution starts to set in -- it becomes a bad system of logic in that it 'oversimplifies the infinitely expanding diversity and complexities of life'. 

And thus, if we 'narcissistically keep hanging onto' some sort of an assumption or paradigm or barrier or belief or value that doesn't work, or no longer works, because it no longer follows the evolutionary and phenomenological path of life,  for whatever reason we may do this -- and there are many such as pride, ego, authority, blind righteousness, money, territory...and on and on we could go -- in the end, we may be doing a huge disservice to both ourselves, and to the rest of mankind.

Now we come back to this hugely difficult and controversial Freudian changeover in theoretical assumptions that Freud engineered between 1896 and 1899: the basic abandonment of his previous 'Traumacy' (1895) and then 'Seduction' (1896) Theory... The 'Seduction' Theory was a rather 'white-washed' name, not applied at this time but later, that stood for something much more ominous: what we would now call 'childhood sexual abuse'.  

The critical paper in which Freud introduced The Seduction Theory was a little paper that I consider to be one of Freud's best: The Aetiology of Hysteria (1896).  In this essay, Freud showed a high degree of of compassion and empathy towards women sexually assaulted as children on the one hand -- more so than any other essay that I have read by Freud, and at the same time, a clinical and theoretical astuteness relative to connecting these early childhood traumatic sexual scenes with his patients' later 'recurring neurotic symptoms'. This was basically an extension of his earlier trauma theory and his formula of 1. psychic trauma; 2 unbearable idea; and 3. defensive symptom.

The idea back then was that if you 'unlocked the patient's unconscious/repressed sexual trauma memory', then you would at the same time unlock the mystery of understanding a woman's so-called 'hysterical -- and/or other neurotic symptoms'.  From a therapeutic standpoint, the formula was basically: 'concrete, here-and-now, awareness plus emotional catharsis surrounding the intimately recalled psychic trauma equals a 'release of both emotional stress baggage and the release of the person from the hysterical symptoms(s) connected with the previously repressed memory.'  

Freud found out over time that this formula did not always work 100 percent -- sometimes there was a significant 'working through' process that the therapist had to follow up with, with the client/patient. And sometimes one particular 'hysterical symptom' might disappear with one particular therapeutic (hypnotic, pressure method, free association) session only for one, two, or five more symptoms to show up at the next session. Breuer had to deal with almost an endless parade of hysterical symptoms in the case of Anna O. which could have kept him busy for the rest of his life had not the case abruptly broken off when Anna O. said that she was having Breuer's baby (which from all case accounts that I've read turned out to be another 'hysterical symptom'). So Breuer's, Charcot's, and Freud's 'unleash the repression and emotional catharsis' formula was not 100 percent foolproof -- individual symptoms could often be treated but not the full underlying hysteria or neurosis. 

Looking back at this whole ordeal now, I would add that many different types of 'transference neuroses' can last a lifetime -- in essence, a lifetime of 'obsessive-compulsive-addiction' to the particular 'signature' or 'profile' features of the individual client's particular transference neurosis or complex.  

Still, many psychotherapists use the essence of this early Breuer-Charcot-Freud formula today -- with or without different modifications of it. 

It is not a theory that Freud should have totally -- or even significantly -- abandoned. Certainly, not his trauma theory. And not the 'sexual child abuse component' of this trauma theory which Freud no doubt overgeneralized in the bigger scheme of things when he said in essence that 'Childhood sexual assault played a part in every case of hysteria that he had treated up to then' (The Aetiology of Hysteria, 1896).  Maybe, maybe not -- but either way, both psychic trauma and, to a lesser but still significant extent (more likely underestimated than overestimated) -- there are not many, if any, therapists, today who are not going to have to deal with one of, and likely both of, these factors in any therapeutic relationship.  

This having been said, Freud largely abandoned both theories -- both his Trauma and his Seduction Theory -- in favor of his evolving 'Fantasy, False and Screen Memory, Dream, Childhood Sexuality, and Oedipal/Electra Complex Theories' that were coming down the pipeline in his creative theorizing between about 1897 and let us say 1905. 

And Psychoanalysis -- for better or worse -- has not turned back since. It has looked back. But it has not turned back. 

Freud had a strong hanging-on bite. 

And so too has the rest of The Psychoanalytic Establishment -- at least the part that still endorses and at least publicly embraces all of Freud's most unethical ideas -- such as using The Oedipus complex to cover up cases of real childhood sexual abuse. 

For me, I continue to advance an integrative theory that combines Pre-Psychoanalytic (trauma and seduction theory, unbearable ideas -- based on either real experience and/or imaginative fantasy plus a defensive cover-up or compensation of the particular unbearable idea), Classical Psychoanalysis, Object Relations, Adlerian Psychology, Jungian Psychology, Gestalt Therapy, Transactional Analysis, and more...

Please follow with me. This whole run of things could take a while to develop. (Last three paragraphs added Aug. 26th, 2012.  

-- dgb. Dec. 7th, 2009, Jan. 6th, 2010, July 13th, 2011, Aug. 26th, 2013.

-- David Gordon Bain, 

-- Dialectical Gap-Bridging Negotiations...

-- Are Still in Process...