- Paperback: 422 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (February 27, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1855756579
- ISBN-13: 978-1855756571
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,667,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Knowing, Not-Knowing and Sort-of-Knowing: Psychoanalysis and the Experience of Uncertainty 1st Edition
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“Don’t miss this marvelous collection of articles, the record of one of the most scintillating psychoanalytic conferences I can ever remember attending. It’s a real knockout―brilliantly conceived and masterfully realized. Virtually everyone you might expect to be included in a project called Knowing, Not-Knowing, and Sort-of Knowing is included, and then some, and the result is a volume of breadth and depth that will be read for decades.” (Donnel B. Stern, PhD)
“What I know is that Knowing, Not-Knowing, and Sort-of Knowing is a book you should read. Jean Petrucelli has collected a large group of jewels and produced a psychoanalytic crown. This cutting-edge collection covers those topics you will most want to know about in today's psychoanalytic world, from dissociation, multiple self-states, neuro-psychoanalysis, affect theory, implicit knowing, and more. It is fitting that such a book ends with essays on joy, as it is a joy to have this collection available.” (Lewis Aron, PhD)
“This is a brave book and an important one. It is timely too. The interest in the ordinariness of dissociative states of mind and its place in all of our psyches, not just the traumatic, is allowing our field to question the historical grip that psychoanalysis has had on the need to know, the need to be right, the need to offer the correct interpretation. In short, the need to find certainty. Psychoanalysis is now such a developing praxis that we can come to humility without fear. We can afford to address questions of ‘knowing’ and ‘not-knowing', and even ‘maybe knowing’, without the edifice crumbling. Indeed, as this important collection of papers shows, it is in the questioning that our understandings and approaches to the mind develop and strengthen. As we open ourselves up to uncertainties, we have the means to offer the mixture of uncertainty and rigor; of knowing and not-knowing; of thinking and rethinking, to the people we see, thus enlivening them, ourselves, and our theories.” (Susie Orbach, psychoanalyst and author of Bodies; Co-Founder)
About the Author
Jean Petrucelli is Director and Co-Founder of the Eating Disorders, Compulsions and Addictions Service at the William Alanson White Institute in New York City, where she is also a Supervising analyst and on the Teaching Faculty. She has lectured extensively on the interpersonal treatment of eating disorders and is a psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City.
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Petrucelli's brief description of the final chapters in the sections entitled `Omissions of Joy' in psychoanalysis, and `I know something about you: Working with extra-analytic knowledge in the analytic dyad in the twentieth century', which includes titles', such as `Double exposure...sightings of the analyst outside the consultation room', `Who's afraid of Google?' and `Six degrees of separation...When real worlds collide in treatment', drew me to start reading the book from its ending.
These final essays more than fulfilled their promise as significant contributions to my thinking about psychoanalytic work in this brave new world of technological advances and diminished levels of so-called privacy. As well, they helped me to reflect on the often under-recognised sphere of joy for both therapist and patient in psychoanalytic work.
The book is divided into eight main sections, each incorporating a series of essays on related topics. It begins with sections one and two, `Stalking the Elusive Mutative Experience', which covers notions such as `The enigma of the transference', `The nearness of you: Navigating selfhood, otherness and uncertainty', and `The unconscious as a knowledge processing centre'. These sections include the two keynote papers by Phillip Bromberg and Arnold Modell, which are introduced as oral presentations from the conference itself.
Bromberg talks about the next `phase' of psychoanalysis as one that necessitates a shift from an individual perspective to that of the relational. He describes how in certain situations, right-brain-to-right-brain dialogue between oneself and another, if it is not influenced by cognitive input from the left hemispheres of each participant, leads us to a `sort of knowing', which to Bromberg is dissociative. In other words, we are implicitly aware of something going on between us, though not explicitly so. Bromberg draws on literature, including the dissociative tendencies of the poet, Emily Dickinson, and his own personal experience as a literature student, to make powerful points about the nature of the dissociative process and its creative possibilities.
Modell explores the nature of the unconscious, not simply as the repository of unknown and repressed material as first formulated by Freud and others, but as a `knowledge processing centre', where memories are constantly `recontextualised' on the basis of subsequent and ongoing experience.
Section three deals with `Dissociation - Clinical, Diagnostic, and Conceptual Perspectives... From Murder Through Abuse to Masochism', where one emphasis is on recognising that childhood trauma determines the shape of criminal violence. In her paper on Dissociative Identity Disorders, DID, Elizabeth Howell considers the notion of `procedural' identification with the aggressor in persons suffering from DID, and reflects on the possibility that such disorders might say something about the level of dissociation in society as well.
In section four, `When Experience Has a Mind of its Own', Petrucelli, Mark Blechner and Adam Phillips explore how dissociation or panic or the avoidance of disturbing experience through the keeping of secrets can lead people to live a sort of double life. Petrucelli argues such double lives can only be explored when people are ready to deal with their secrets. With the help of a series of cogent case examples, Blechner recommends that in situations of panic, people might be helped when the analyst is able to point out the fearful source that might well contribute to the panic. Finally, in this section, Phillips explores the difference between behaviour that is based on a wish to avoid wrongdoing and behaviour that is based on a wish to get away with it. Phillips then reflects on the consequences of such evasion, notably the emergence of relentless guilt.
Section five introduces a physiological emphasis in the role of the brain, entitled, `How Do We Know and How Does It Change? The Role of Implicit and Explicit Mind/Brain/Body Processes'. Section six then shifts the emphasis onto the body and deals with `How Bodies Are Theorized, Exhibited and Struggled With and Against: Gender, Embodiment and The Analyst's Physical Self'.
In this section I was particularly taken with Janet Tintner's essay, `The incredible shrinking shrink', in which she details her patients' responses to changes in her body size as she gained and lost weight over time. Tintner draws reference to the powerful effect on the therapy when the therapist's personal difficulties are clearly evident in the room. Tintner's training, to follow her patient's free associations and not to introduce her own material, clashed with her recognition that there were things certain of her patients had been unable to talk about given their sensitivity to their therapist's feelings, particularly when some of those patients had weight problems themselves. Tintner concludes that `talking about the therapist's body can yield rich clinical material', but it takes courage. (289)
In her introduction, Petrucelli describes how this book came about as an offshoot of a five-day conference in 2008 held at the William Alanson White Institute in New York under the auspices of the American Psychological Association Division of Psychoanalysis, and spear headed by several board members, notably Nancy McWilliams, Jaine Darwin and Henry Seiden. The conference organisers were keen to explore `the experience of uncertainty'.
Freud himself as early as 1893 talked about "the blindness of the seeing eye", which Petrucelli describes as the `experience in which one knows and does not know a thing at the same time'. (p. xxvii) The twenty-seven papers selected from the conference reflect the broad themes addressed and the degree to which dissociative processes have garnered increased recognition in psychoanalytic circles, not merely as a function of trauma, but also as a helpful and necessary experience for all people throughout our lives.
One of the book's strengths, despite its relational flavour, lies in the diversity of its contributors - clinicians and scholars from different backgrounds and trainings, including some whose names are familiar here in Australia.
Once I had started to read from back to front, I felt compelled to continue. As I moved to the section dealing with brain function I had expected disappointment, such are my prejudices against what I imagine to be a concrete approach to the human body and brain, the so-called `scientific'. But I was mistaken.
These chapters offer what Bromberg calls a `safe surprise', namely the pleasure derived from having my preconceived notions turned around. (p. 33)
From here on I found the book even more enthralling. Every writer included has a unique voice and one, which offers a clear explanation of processes such as dissociation, notions of the unconscious, and the degree to which we can know, not-know and sort-of-know about our experience and that of others. The case examples and personal anecdotes, written with narrative flair, ground the theory in everyday life experience both clinically and personally, thereby offering the reader anchor points by which to remember the many ideas and theories explored here.
The emphasis moves away from the pathological, though several essays deal with severe disturbance, including that of people who suffer from so-called borderline personality disorder, as well as those who suffer from DID and those found guilty of violent crime. The writers however explore these states, resulting from severe infantile and childhood trauma, with respect and profound thoughtfulness. They recognise the continuum of human experience and the degree to which we are all subject to difficulties, both patients and analysts. The writing, even of such a diverse group, is further underlined by a common belief that we are all divided, not so much by the degree of trauma we have suffered in our lifetimes - though clearly there are degrees of trauma that might render some irretrievably damaged - but by our `ability to recognise, rather than dissociate'. (p. 76) At the same time, most writers in this book regard dissociation as inevitable and to some extent necessary and helpful.
These essays are remarkable for their honesty, their intellectual rigour, and their lyrical qualities even when dealing with dense theoretical constructs. They are rendered all the more effective through the sheer resonance of the storytelling. In this sense, the essayists follow the tradition of Freud. They use life experience, their own and that of others including their patients, as a starting point.
I recommend this book for all those interested in the psychoanalytic experience, whether as practitioners or as recipients of psychoanalytic help. The book overturns the artificial divide between helper and helped, and demonstrates the therapeutic power of the interpersonal, the inter-subjective and the degree to which we are all in this struggle - life with its sorrows and joys, the known, the unknown and the sort-of-known - together.