An historic perspective (JL)

Growing out of the Enlightenment, psychoanalysis has been deeply concerned with both human experience and its transformations into creativity, and scientific explanation drawn from research and logic. Personal inclination and political necessity led Freud to tilt toward science. The clinical setting became the laboratory for observation and science-based research on psychic functioning leading to “metapsychological” formulations in experience-distant metaphors. The distinction between science borrowings for theory and experience-near case histories can be observed in Freud’s borrowings from science for theoretical constructs (psychic structures, instinctual drives, id, ego, and superego) and the more accessible descriptive language of his case histories. First, “the unconscious” received its conceptual explanation in the topographic theory. Here the goal was to make the unconscious conscious, to convert primary process into secondary process. Dreams were the paradigm for unraveling condensation, displacement, and symbolization in order to discover a disguised desire and intention. Then, conflict, drive, executive and defensive functioning, and morality and ethics were accounted for in the complex idioms of the structural hypothesis. This is the version of psychoanalytic thinking that brilliant scholars like Hartmann, Kris, and Loewenstein brought to the USA as “ego psychology.” Their disciples Brenner, Arlow, Wangh, and Beres visited the local institutes to be certain the intricacies of ego psychology were understood and taught, and aggressive drive was given proper emphasis along with sexual drive. This was the period of my training, early practice, teaching, and writing: 1957-1970. I fully enjoyed teaching ego psychology - the economy, logic, and fit of the pieces. It reminded me of my love of trigonometry, where each part could be juggled to make a fit in an equation. This “fit” proved to be a problem that became exposed by the psychologists of the Rapaport-Klein Study Group. Ego psychology was a closed system - each element was explained by another. A wonderful intellectual exercise, but an experience-distant set of points of view: the dynamic, economic, structural, and genetic.

Then in the 1970s I discovered Kohut’s explanations that moved toward more relevant clinical proposals about ‘self’ or, as I prefer, sense of self or experiential self (Lichtenberg, 1973). Kohut’s more experience-near formulations about narcissism were far reaching; his adherence to some structural terms like selfobject was less so (Lichtenberg, 1991). Rather than an experience or sense of self, Kohut used the metaphor of a structure that could be fragmented. Responses from significant others were regarded as filling deficits in regulation - so the self was completed by taking in needed capacities from the object to form a cohesive selfobject. The term selfobject also came to refer to a necessary and empathic person rather than an experience that led to feeling vitalized or soothed and comforted.

Research on infants provided a rich, new viewpoint and vocabulary for development: Winnicott (1965) being alone in the presence of another; Bowlby (1988) seeking a secure base at a time of danger and loss; Stern in a Diary of a Baby (1990), using concepts of vitality, attunement, and cross-modal sensory activation; and Beebe and Lachmann’s (2002) violation of expectations. As I reviewed the wonderful accumulation of research on infancy, I recognized that Hartmann’s having added a fifth point of view - the adaptive - helped to introduce a valuable link to an experiential view of development. The adaptive point of view brought analytic theory into direct contact with the experience of relating to both the animate and inanimate world - a challenge that gives human experience its affirmative coloration and direction. Adapting brings into focus an infant’s initiatives and responses to both other humans (intersubjectivity), the inanimate world (interaction), and his bodily needs. The individual’s contribution to the intersubjectivity and interaction is to seek - to reach out with an intention, a goal, and an affect.

Experience - or lived experience, in our usage - refers to all the moment-to-moment occurrences that impact a person and all the implicit and explicit discrete and underlying emotions, intentions, and goals that emerge. Some of the continuous flood of information and sensation impacting each human will be in awareness, symbolic, and open to reflection. Other impacts are more subliminal, subsymbolic, and sometimes unformulated, but have an influence on behavior, intentions, and expectations. By centering on experience, we examine the impact of any event or happening emanating from the environment, the body, and/or the implicit or explicit memory of previous lived experience.

A word on our language choice. Referring to experience, we primarily describe feelings, vitality, enlivenment, narrative, gesture, thoughts, sensations, memory, expectations, fantasy, intuition, imagination, attitudes, intentions, and goals. Our point of focus is on the sense of self (not selfstructure). Referring to activity of the brain, we refer to the right and left hemispheres, cortex, neurons, networks, and processes. Referring to the mind, we use experience-near concepts such as systems, pathways, self and object representations, RIGS, cataloging, differentiating, and adaptation. Bucci’s (1957) theory of symbolic processes of verbal or nonverbal language and imagery, subsymbolic processes of visceral and autonomic sensory, and motor responses and their linking can elucidate sense of self and brain, as well as mind.

The book is divided into four chapters. In each of the four chapters we relate development, seeking, sense of self, and identity to changes that are brought about in analytic psychotherapy. In addition to the explicit benefits of interpretation and insight, we emphasize the implicit changes that occur in the ambiance between the analysand and analyst. We suggest that subtle affect alteration in ambiance is instrumental over time in changes in the underlying affect tone of the analysand. The underlying affect tone comprises three qualities of experience that are more generalized and atmospheric than discrete emotions: openness to affectionate warmth, having a sense of agentic power, and living in one’s body. The generalized senses of affection, power, and bodily well-being are experienced as an underlying “hum” or sensibility. Once formed, the underlying experience of caring conveys the sense that the person has the hedonic tone necessary to give and receive affection, has a sense of having the power necessary to be effective as a doer doing, initiating and activating, and is a vibrant physical being. Caring, power, and bodily well-being provide an abiding feeling state that contributes to the individual’s sense that life is worth living or, if deficient or lost, detracts from it. We see the foundational experience for affectionate caring as having an integral connection with sensuality conceived in its broadest sense from a mother’s and baby’s affection for each other to the tender goodbye of love ones to a dying parent. The fundamental experience of having power is derived from recognition and implementation of the infant doer doing’s spontaneous seeking and intentional exploration of the inanimate world. The underlying feeling of bodily well-being emerges from forming a good mind-body connection that facilitates the regulation of physiological requirements.

We present our expansion of motivational systems theory in four related new conceptions. First, seeking is the spark that triggers the feeling, intentions, and goal of each activated motivational system. Second, from a development perspective, three broad pathways for seeking organize: the pathway for human relatedness and intimacy, the pathway for mastery of the environment, and the pathway for a healthy body and a good mind-body connection. Each of the three developmental pathways utilized one or more motivational system(s) in the intentions and goals being sought. Third, an underlying generalized affect tone emerges that reflects the adaptive success or failure of each pathway. Fourth, during successful analytic therapy, along with interpretation and insight, changes occur in the ambiance between analyst and analysand that relate to and are affected by the underlying affect tone. The modification of negative underlying affect tone is an integral requirement for analytic success. Fifth, the effect of scolding and shaming on the intensity' of seeking and on identity is discussed.

In Chapter 2 we use a clinical narrative to identify positive changes in identity. By identity we mean the experience of who we are, as reflected in the narratives that emanate from a core sense of self as a doer doing. Narratives of identity emerge from who the person regards him or herself to be, who others regard him or her to be, and some combination of the two. In the words of Phillip Roth, “one’s story isn't a skin to be shed - it’s inescapable, one’s body and blood. You go on pumping it out until you die, the story veined with the themes of your life” (Roth, 2013, p. 107). In our prior studies of identity, we considered how humans are able to maintain a high degree of constancy in their core sense of self regardless of many transitions of life and vicissitudes of adaptation. We used the theory of fractals as a fundamental form of broad explanation, and the reflections about past, immediate present, and future intentions of the wandering mind to explain consistency of identity and the narratives that exemplify it. In contrast, here we take up positive changes in identity emerging from analysis. Via a clinical example we illustrate positive changes in identity brought about by the combination of interpretation and insight, alteration over time in analyst/analysand ambiance, and moderation of the underlying affect tone.

In Chapter 3 we present a clinical example, with an emphasis on the profound role of seeking as it emerges in psychoanalysis. To seek for a particular experience, one that arouses interest and has a sense of purpose, is the propelling urgency that activates each motivational system toward its goal. Bowlby (1973) addressed the fundamental role of seeking in his axiomatic statement that the infant seeks a secure base at times of danger and loss. Kohut (1971) emphasized the infant’s (and adult’s) seeking mirroring affirmation, twinship belonging, and the enlivenment of idealization. In the clinical situation, how does the analysand shift seeking from what he wants and needs directed at the analyst, to changes in himself and/or the eternal world? Is seeking blunted by resignation to a negative expectation? How is seeking reflected in the therapeutic ambiance and in positive change in the underlying affect tone?

In Chapter 4 we present a case study and many clinical examples of disillusion and the collapse of seeking. In contrast to disappointment that leads to seeking alternative means to carry out one’s intentions and achieve one’s goals, disillusion often results in abandoning seeking and a temporary or lasting disruption of treatment.

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