Farhad Dalal: A Rumination on Intimacy & its Defences in the Consulting Room

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Farhad Dalal: A Rumination on Intimacy & its Defences in the Consulting Room

so I’m going to talk about intimacy to play a little but I’m going to think not not so much about the larger social sphere to dr elisabeth div they’re going to think about it more in the consulting room and so to frame the discussion I want to just set up to questions and it’s lyss is um is intimacy and necessary ingredient in the therapy for the therapy to be therapeutic or is the presence of intimacy or corruption to the work of therapy the presence of which stops the therapy beans Tariff utage but first of all just what is intimacy well are my associations it has to do the closeness proximity connection Union touch it has to do an openness vulnerability intensity depth it is a state in which the berries of shame come down and perhaps disappear entirely so there is transparency intimacy has more to do with being rather than doing then sexual union is perhaps the epitome of intimacy but often enough sesame is anything but intimate in contrast to the intensity of sexual Union there is another version of intimacy which is akin to Billy Cox infant playing alone on the presence of mother two or more people sitting together with each absorbed in their own task be reading or knitting or whatever my associations with that kind of picture others have want is peace but comfort the look between mother and child is another sort of it to me but here to want us to say what always sometimes the mother looks at the child with dead eyes to use the phrase buddha 2 by elizabeth alone key to the experience of intimacy it must be some kind of reciprocity mutuality and those two words are going to be important but we should not leave out the other more fractious side of intimacy wherein one feels no inhibition and expressions of irritation and words with the shame barrier down the sensor is largely absent redic naseem aspects of intimacy with in couples siblings and close friends the repercussions of irit are the expressions of irritations create distance and can provoke expression of irritation in turn so should that kind of phenomena still be called intimacy I put that question aside for the world’s we’ll come back to it a bit later so the aspect of intimacy that I’ve been fleshing out is a deep form of involvement and I also notice that I’ve been drawn to use the word deep repeatedly in trying to capture something about the notion of intimacy well what does our lecturer fuchs lecturer Elizabeth all have to say on these matters on the one hand she mentions Floyd approvingly to say that psychoanalysis is primarily a psychological theory and research method in an only in second place a therapeutic practice this of course is true of group analysis as well well if it isn’t indicate that group analysis as primarily a theory and research method that it doesn’t sound that could be a very promising environment for the fostering of intimacy and yet our foots lecturer concluded a presentation with the rousing words I am convinced that group analysis is capable to offer what is increasingly missing in society a place to experience intimacy coherence and cohesion so here we have a tension that arises out of Iranian questions that we all return to time and time again just what is group is just what is psychotherapy are they even the same thing well on these matters as a profession we are profoundly divided the fundamental division for some is the division between analysts analysis sorry and psychotherapy there are many psychoanalysts and auto group analysts who would say that the profession of the analyst is distinct from that of the therapist analysis they could claim is the search for truth of value through research into the psyche of the patient the alleviation of suffering is delegated to the therapist now in

speaking to you of necessity life to make assumptions about where you stand on this division and other divisions and this makes my task complicated on the one hand I don’t want to inflict early the tedium of rehearsing ancient arguments but nor do I want to inflict on you the arrogant presumption that all right-thinking people must think like me so as I speak I need to make some assumptions which at times might come across to you as unwarranted presumptions about what you think the way you stand if so sorry now our fuchs lecturer tells us a number of things about where she stands and where she thinks that the group understands on the edge she calls on the authority of foods who has said of the group analyst to be at the same time inside and outside the group to be a participant observer she goes on to say that this means to be involved emotionally that modern action and to maintain at the same time the capacity to be an adamant observer it is a position in between it does not allow purity or objectivity or absolute truth it allows us to take part and at the same time stay in observer this kind of research methodology which privileges subjectivity is very different from Freud view of psychoanalysis researcher his version was grounded in the 19th century version of science in which the relation between the observer and observed was straightforward and con problematic crucially in that view who presumed that the analyst should be and thought to be the detached observer and commentator of psychic phenomena central to this position is the notion of value free neutrality of non-interference of recent version emotion and this gives us gives rise to the iconic image of the impassive blank screen psychoanalyst a scientist the distinction is important because although Elizabeth wrought relies in the authority of Freud to legitimate the principle of research she practices a form of research that is very different from the one in visit by Florida and perhaps would be anathema to him the distinction is also important for the following reason the removed stance of the classical psychoanalyst is predicated on the belief that the driver of social life is to be found entirely in the internal workings of the SIA tease of individuals and the patient experiences of the external world I said to be born of projections from the internal world the scientist analyst reads backwards from the manifest to make inferences about the internal and the analyst keeps themselves out of the picture in order not to contaminate the data and if the analyst does find themselves engaging in a conversation with the patient about the external world then their filter capitulated acted out and lost the plot in some way now many contemporary psychoanalyst continue to embody the stars in my experience it is also it is also the belief system of many group analyst who might speak the rhetoric of the social guess who’s practice deifies the internal psychologically and whose stance and attitude is that of the dtap of a detached observer of genital events now when I say this kind of thing mostly I meet protest I told you don’t believe that sort of thing anymore I’m also sometimes toad well that is how it might be in psychoanalysis but it certainly is not so in group analysis if only because the analyst is more visible and exposed to group members I beg to differ just recently I was in a group experience during mr. conductor of the group looked steadfastly at the floor for the entire 90 minutes and said nothing apart from one interpretation towards the end of the session in contrast to the idea of the detached researcher Elizabeth tells us and here I agree with her that there is no way to observe a human being without being involved and there is no valid description of any situation without describing the interaction between the observed the observer but despite promoting the view that the researcher is nest necessarily embedded in the research Elizabeth Rawls thinks and this is something I don’t agree with that it is possible to inhabit the edge in such a way that it is possible to be involved emotionally

but not in action ever how is it possible to be involved and not act it seems to me that this stance is made to appear possible by creating a split between mind and body between thought and action a split that does not exist in the reality and I think this believe this commonplace in our profession well rather importantly Elizabeth raw describes the interactions that take place during the research whether it be in the field or the clinic as transferences and countertransference s and this night renders it raised for me the following interesting question are all the interactions and experiences that take place between between protagonists in a therapy to be construed as versions of transference and countertransference is everything transference attachment now find myself asking this because in the way that we usually talk of the process of counterions they are sort of counterfeit counterfeit experiences and I use the word counterfeit to point to the belief that a transference experiences one which in a sense is not quite real and its sources are not only present but in another time in another place and the sources of the analyst feelings are called countertransference which being a responsive transference are tarred with the same brush it is not that the experience is imagined of faults rather the experience although tangible and real is a distortion of how things really hard and it’s a commonplace phenomenon and we all nodes well and here’s a ordinary enough illustration last meeting a group during the silence that had gone on for a minute or two John Chester Jane why he stopped speaking she had not noticed that she had drifted off and the question brings her back to the group she says that she was speaking she noticed me put my hand my head then this she took to me that I was bored and she stops beating but was not born but stirred which is saying well the opposite of counter feet is authentic and the opposite of distorted is accurate and this tells us that the opposite of the transference is some ideas of objectivity of reality here then is another question if all the experiences taking place in the clinic on manifestations of transference and countertransference then can they ever be said to be authentic well we must think so else we would not be doing this work but this also tells us that we’ve made too sharp a distinction between the transference and objectivity this also tells us at the classical psychoanalytic position is immersed in a birth you know in a version of positivism in which the external reality is an apolitical unproblematic giving here in contrast to the transformation world of the patient the analyst has the privilege of living in a region called reality well if intimacy has to do with mutuality and reciprocity then in this kind of detached analytic situation not only with intimacy not be possible it will also be construed of as a corruption to the analyst objectivity and his delete and her his or her bleachers to the truth now in contrast to that point of view I think that most of us in this room might agree that as humans we are always mired in subjectivity we are always in the thick of things so if we recast the transference simply as experienced as it is being patterned by one’s history then one cannot make a sharp distinction between reality and transference either in the clinic or out there very world and all this is as true of the analyst as much as it is the patient and although most would concur this mutant viewpoint in principle in practice things are often very different sometimes we can catch glimpses of just how different by observing how our training institutions engage with their trainees and the ways that various panels treat their interviews and so on often enough the stance is authoritarian between the ones who know than the ones who have to show and if there is a difference and dispute between the wireless with no and the ones who have

to show the problem is located in the ones who have to show and if we follow as we’ve been invited to do right Elizabeth if you follow the relational the intersubjective is that our menu ethic and the ethno metallurgical turns then we would wholeheartedly agree with the fruits lecturer now there is no way to observe a human being that that being involved and there is no valid description of any situation without describing interaction between the observer and observer but if this is indeed the case that you observer and observed are entangled then I think it’s a bit of a fantasy to imagine if the therapist can be involved emotionally but not in action after all Elizabeth did buy food for dough she was researching obviously exhibit was active and momentarily something therapeutic occurred because of the activity I think as a profession what our profession is inclined to sustain the fantasy of non-action because of its aspiration to be viewed in the same light as a natural sciences I would say that this kind of d├ętente starts as the analysts way of defending against the experience of intimacy and how could they not all the connotations of intimacy reciprocity transparency exposure or undermining of the very idea of attachment that the analyst hold so dear now Fuchs himself was when on the road in these matters he said it is important for the therapist to admit that his personal influence is inevitably strong in spite of his precautions to minimize this therefore he should use it consciously rather than haphazardly or unconsciously in my drugs Lecter I argued for something similar for the virtues of a responsive therapist rather than a removed one in my view not only is intimacy possible own between therapist and patient so that it is necessary and I can store therapy as a journey towards growth intimacy suks himself provided us with two terms did that speak to the analyst therapist divine Group a group analyst and group conductor the task of the analysis interpret and the task of the conductor is to facilitate about the conductor fook says this interpretations are only one kind of intervention which fought with a lot of the conductor he may sometimes have to select a topic to draw attention to what the group is trying to gloss over you may have to confront people explain links address individuals of the group who have asked questions whilst for information and so forth now when i began supervising training groups of the IGA many years ago in the early days in my report and one of the trainees i said that while she did a lot of her sorry why she did a lot of facilitating she did not interpret much when i said this i was making the criticism i now think the opposite i think facilitation to be more important than into why because the task is to deepen communication of course interpretations too deeply communication but not when they are obscure enigmatic and delivered by an opaque analyst from a great height on these occasions mostly the effect is to silence and to be under effects which are 10 pathology but the two positions between analyst and conductor or not as distinct as they’re usually made out to be writing with these two terms foots light Elias is troubling the paradox that we are both detached and involved at the same time so when I think about what does the activity of conducting mean to me in my day-to-day practice this is this is what i find myself writing and its most straightforward I take conducting to me drawing attention to at its simplest I take conducting to me noticing that is most practical method conducting to be the act of speaking in order to draw attention to one can see them that the act that conducting is not particularly mysterious esoteric or arcane now let me turn to analysis and it’s made instrument the interpretation now it’s the the interpretation is said to be

something very distinct and different from education advice information giving and so forth so I’m going to UM so folks sites this interpretation that he says that it is the kind of interpretation he would not make and this took this is about he’s supervising somebody so so the persons are patient having admitted that she masturbated she come to the next session with her fingernails painted red and cheeks and it is expressing revulsion at the thought of having rest friend so as I say this is the kind of interpreting food suit not men so I’ve interpreted to her how she felt the Brussels revolting because she felt that she had told her to bits with her nails which was stained with blood she asked me not to say things like that as a terrified her and I interpreted that she felt terrified of the storm aggressive and so on now leaving aside any questions of activity or effectiveness the accuracy or effectiveness of this interpretation the issue i want to flag up is this in what sense is this or any other interpretation not just simply an explanation in what sense is it not educated in what sense is it simply not just telling the patient how things stand and why that is so I think in seeking to distinguish the interpretation from information and education it has been made a mysterious and mythic form of communication and incantation an incantation with magical properties in what is apparently potent about it is not what we actually see it’s informational and educational content but apparently some other quality and often the interpretation is made to appear objective by being spoken in the third person but the distinction between facilitation and interpretation is quite undermined by foods when he reminds us that the original german term used by freud for interpretation was titled and in German all this means is 2.2 2.2 and this has very different connotations than the mystification that it has become indus- fook says the broader meaning of interpretation is to draw a person’s attention to another meaning of the line of thought or action he is pursuing but this is exactly how I describe my experience of conducting earlier in other words both interpretation and facilitation are simply ways of drawing attention to something and necessarily in the same moment drawing attention away from something else it is a directing activity it is from these reasons that rather than speak of therapy in terms of facilitation or analysis like many others I prefer to think of therapy as conversation a conversation that is emergent and is being co-created by all the participants including the therapist so the comeback note of the theme of intimacy the conversation in a large in the final large group and the conclusion of a two-day workshop was warm and appreciative participants expressed gratitude to each other as well as the conveners after while one of the convener said something about this being the honeymoon period and if we were to continue in a bow to encounter more difficult feelings towards each other he asked where are the critical disappointed experiences the group has been told that by focusing on the positive it is being avoidant further that the feelings aroused during the honeymoon phase are not real good ball of projection and fantasy honeymoons estate and mrs. in bit idealization surveys whilst there’s no doubt some truth in this viewpoint this is not all true and there is more going on than meets this can be designed by thing that the convener is uncomfortable precisely because of the feelings of intimacy prevailing in the room and then speaking in this way at this moment is spoiled something this sort of moment of course does not unfamiliar to us humor is regularly interpreted as manic avoidance and so forth here’s another moment during worship last year on ethics at the IGA we were showing the

smaller fragment that’s more bit of an episode of it to the TV series of drama therapy so in the segment is shown that the therapist isn’t supervision and talking about a very difficult situation he finds himself in then the clip ends at a very inert rhythm in a moment of them emotional intensity with the supervisor saying to the therapist something like I will stay with you whatever happens what was interesting to me was the reaction in the room there was a consensus between the people that spoke up that the supervisor had collapsed had capitulated the tone of the comments the somewhat superior scornful and pitying of the supervisor I don’t doubt that in all these instances there are avoidances and so on and play well hi objective is the formulaic way in which moments of burgeoning intimacy are continually and relentlessly interpreted as pathological as pairing as manic light and positivity and so on I think this kind of Richie listicle thanh good feelings in the room is in many cases born of anything the therapist they think on these occasions the therapist cannot bear the invitation to intimacy perhaps and here I speculate perhaps because it threatens their allegiance to the stance of the two taps therapist and as we know the function of envy is too spoiled and destroying to end with I just want to go back to the group session I mentioned earlier Harry had visits visited is aging parents he said that his relationship to them was much improved whose muck things are much closer and he was now knew that they loved him Martha awesome how do you know they love you he ponders thinks about and says I don’t think they’ve ever said Septimus are young to me but even as a child but I can infer from the way they that are that they do others resonate with the theme and elaborate with their own associations what this is going on it occurs to me that in this group and awful lot of inferring goes on there’s very little direct communication between persons about how they actually experience and feel towards each other I say this it evokes a kind of panicked mixed with excitement and although this group is caring thoughtful and reflective and we can feel quite safe and cozy there’s actually no intimacy in it they attend to each other they help each other but they don’t dare to respond to each other in this way to some degree their communication is being so sanitized out Baron they do not dare express their fondness and warmth for each other and nor do they expect to express their irritations and frustrations it is as though the tap is turned off at the mains and so neither hot nor cold water can flow the conversation now segues into the themes of the fear of exposure of being judged of being wrong of potential shay if they were to dare to let themselves to be seen of humiliation and reprimand if they were dare to let any of the responses negative or positive become known but to me this kind of struggle is what groups like therapy is all about in this work I see my task as helping bring down the threshold of shade in order that intimacy might start to flourish one of the ways I do this is to allow myself to be transparent to some degree to let some of my responses be visible not thoughtlessly but circumspectly I risked getting egg on my face and often enough do so in proceeding in this way I aspire to be like the psychoanalyst Harold Searles who wrote this after 30 years of practice I feel increasingly free to interact whether subjectively loving are subjectively malevolent manner with my patients I would no longer find it necessary to invade quite so strongly against love replacement therapy as I did then and would no longer take pains to caution as I did there that it is well for the therapist to remain to maintain a degree of emotional distance between himself and patient now I find a generous place in psychotherapy for all the sadism working muster for example to need them infuriate the apathetic or out of contact patient into more overt

relatedness water beg him back for the dirty has been conflicting on me with an abundance of this kind of interaction materials yes big reason to know that I am in no wise ass ain’t and we can deal with his own problems about sadism in a person-to-person fashion this it seems to me is quite a good description of what intimacy in the consulting room might look like and one that as a profession you might aspire to you