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Passions of the Mind: Unheard Melodies: a Third Principle of Mental Functioning

Harold N. Boris
Copyright Date: 1993
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Passions of the Mind
    Book Description:

    As social animals, each of us can only be partly understood through insights into our individual psychodynamics. There is, within us, another principle at work: to preserve the group, even at the expense of the individual. In this innovative synthesis of classical psychoanalysis and recent interpersonal and object relations psychology, Harold N. Boris constructs a necessary bridge between individual psychodynamics and group dynamics. This bridge rests upon two, complementary foundations: the egoistically- defined pleasure principle of The Couple and the socially defined selection principle of The Pair. Unheard Melodies shows how these two states of mind often compete, each being a distinct mental state seeking its own objectives. When analyzed, both mental states reveal their own characteristic themes and feelings, presences and absences, all of which are intertwined in the unique, patterned music of psychoanalysis. To demonstrate the patterning of these mental states, Boris presents the transcription of a composite analysis, an astonishing documentation of his own clinical experience, showing The Couple and The Pair playing together in the analytic setting. These clinical transcripts, complete with commentary, provide rare glimpses into the psychoanalytic process that will interest psychoanalysts, sociologists, and casual students of the mind and society.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-2347-0
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    Michael Eigen

    I once spent a wonderful summer with a jazz pianist who told me he spent much of his life just playing, and only later, when he needed to teach, did he try to figure out what he did when he played. I suspect Harold Boris spent much of his life figuring out what he did as he went along, but the playing is there first, and the thinking is part of the playing. What Boris plays is psychoanalytic music and his thinking creates a score for the notes that keep pouring out of him.

    In his introduction, he fastens on...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. Part One Paradoxes and Paradigms

    • Introduction
      (pp. 3-14)

      The ideas put forward in this book started out as interpretations in the psychoanalytic consulting room. I illustrate their derivation and use in the second part of this book. Some readers may want to read that section first, returning to the first part, as they would to the discussion section of a clinical paper.

      I do not begin there myself because so much happens in a session that making any sense of it at all requires selection—requires, metaphorically speaking, frameworks, receptors, or lenses. The purpose of interpretation is to provide the circumstances by which a patient can experience, indeed,...

    • 1. The Couple and the Pair
      (pp. 15-31)

      Ψ [the analyst] has furnished a consulting room. It has a comfortable chair for himself, another for his patients, and generally it will have a couch. It has been furnished with some care to unobtrusively reflect his tastes and personality. Treasured icons make discrete links to his family, his profession, and his past. He will not, for example, have color photographs of his wife and children but he may have a vase that one of them bought him or a letter opener that once belonged to his father. The references in the furnishings to period and to color will also...

    • 2. The Couple, the Pair, and the Group
      (pp. 32-43)

      In infancy the mother or mothering person is partly disposed to be a member each ofCoupleandPair, as is the infant—but since they only have each other they have to agree on (or contest) who is what when. Though excellent work has come from Stern (1985) and others (e.g., Beebe and Lachman 1988; Anders 1989), confirming and detailing the infant’s activity in shaping this “intersubjective agreement,” no answers as to what motivations are in play have been given. But there can be general agreement that the mother bears more than the provisioning function ascribed to her in...

    • 3. Paying Attention
      (pp. 44-59)

      By supposing aCoupleand aPairto be orientations of mind—basic assumptions in Bion’s sense, unconscious fantasies in Freud’s and Klein’s—I am drawing the human as a political animal into one being with the creature whose preoccupations reflect an individual life lived for a utilitarian mix involving the minimization of pain consistent with the maximization of pleasure. I shall presently go into what such a concatenation implies, but for now I will confine myself to what I think to be the two basic points of view. From early Freud and late Bion, I take the concept of...

    • 4. A Selection Principle
      (pp. 60-75)

      It will not have escaped the reader that the subtext to what I have so far written is a dualistic model:PairCouple, Preconception—Conception, which has biological roots. One, that governing theCoupleas a state of mind, is scarcely distinguishable from Freud’s pleasure principle. (I do and shall take my differences from it, specifically to it as Primary Process, in chapter 7, Realization.) But for the present, I turn to the function of that other root, that root out of which the impulses toPairevolve.

      As I do so, however, I must ask a degree or two...

    • 5. The Present, the Absent, and the Presence of the Absence
      (pp. 76-94)

      In one of the more notable scenes inThe Catcher in the Rye, Salinger has Holden Caufield in troubled wonder. Holden sees the ducks in New York City’s Central Park and wonders—where do they go when the ice is frozen? This question is aligned to the Zen inquiry about the sound of one hand clapping, which Salinger uses for his epigraph toNine Storiesand could apply to the later scenes inThe Catcher in the Ryein which Holden and his sister, Phoebe, play at being the villain of the movieThe Thirty-Nine Steps, whose little finger is...

    • 6. Intimations
      (pp. 95-114)

      In trying to keep psychoanalysis intact, Freud found himself having to reject those aspects of his own theories onto which other theories could attach and then, with seeming seamlessness, modify. Of the many instances of this (involving Adler, Rank, Stekel, etc.) two were perhaps the most costly: Jung’s work on the racial or collective unconscious, and later Melanie Klein’s work on the nature of unconscious fantasy. Freud’s “dynamic” unconscious, which was comprised of repressed feeling and fantasies, was, with repression and infantile sexuality and the Oedipus complex, a keystone in the architecture of his theories. Anything that threatened to vitiate...

    • 7. Realization
      (pp. 115-129)

      D. Marcus Beach, a poet and philosopher, though as yet unpublished on the present subject, finds realizations of no small beauty. He is quite mad but he does not seem altogether to mind it. Neither does he especially resent that sane people think him to be psychotic. He does, however, insist that perceiving things differently than other people does not disqualify the validity and worth that inhere in his unique access to meanings and intents. Not long ago I received from him a small treatise on his researches in response to some of my own work, including my paper, “Beyond...

    • 8. On Influence
      (pp. 130-143)

      Of the several themes in D. Marcus Beach’s manuscript, perhaps the most reiterative are those of influence and being influenced:

      One morning, after a night of dark fantasies, I awakened with the Voices in my ear. They warned me urgently that I was in great danger and must leave the city immediately. And so, instead of fixing breakfast and going to daycare, I drove in some haste to a town about fifty miles away and, following the direction of the Voices, parked in a rundown section outside the main residential area. For most of that day I wandered aimlessly around...

    • 9. Selection and Choice
      (pp. 144-164)

      These are individuals taking reference from their referenceGroup. At the moment it would seem they are each, in the phrase of Riesman, Denney, and Glazer (1950), “other-directed.” And in being oriented to the other they are forbidden from going to the “inner” source of direction. As one man asks his penis, “Who’s in charge here?”

      It’s a good question, for it leads to three sets of distinctions: (1) self and other; (2)PairorCouple;(3) inner and outer. Where are the boundary lines? How are they established? What is their dynamic?

      R. D. Laing (1971) makes a distinction...

  6. Part Two Sessions

    • Introduction
      (pp. 167-177)

      Of the therapy of psychoanalysis, Heinz Hartmann wrote (1959): “Psychoanalysis is the systematic study of self-deceptions and their motivations.” Such a study requires an Other because by definition the self-deceiving self has been so adept as no longer to track his own sleights of mind—one of which is precisely that he is attending to experience selectively. Since the patient’s patiently constructed self-deceptions are ever in danger from one not so motivated as he, he will perforce in his life have had to construct the smoke and mirrors necessary to deceive others in direct counterpart to his own self deceptions....

    • 10. Session: Monday
      (pp. 178-186)

      Ψ has furnished a consulting room. In glass and chrome, Early American, or Berggasse 19, of course, but also as a playing field for very old and dear games—like “doctor,” “house,” or “Daddy (or Mommy) goes to work.” But notjustthese games thatCouplesplay. The analyst is a member of aGroup, a species that began, perhaps, with Joseph (in whose tradition Freud saw himself), interpreter to the Pharaoh, or some other great explorer, healer, or scientist.

      Regarding the relationship of analyst and patient in any one of such “games”:

      No doubt the unconscious counterparts of such...

    • 11. Session: Tuesday
      (pp. 187-189)

      As P may have hinted, this could be yesterday’s session today. Yesterday P went to the narrative form to communicate; he told of his experience at the theatre. Today Ψ is helping to keep the experience in the room, but the same experiences that fueled yesterday’s narrative are making themselves manifest in today’s session. P, at age three, is having his say, as best he can. P is trying to help that three-year-old find the words for it that he didn’t have at three. At three, P went to sleep “like a good boy” so as not to cause a...

    • 12. Session: Wednesday
      (pp. 190-194)

      There is so much Ψcouldhave said that it is not surprising he said next to nothing (only “Hello”). As P said, a breakdown had taken place in the night and the debris were scattered all over the place. One could certainly see the signs of this reflected in the analyst’s own ruminative processes. Along with the substance of the material, he was soaking up the sense that it consisted of detritus. There was a hint of delirium in his experience. Toward the end of the session he was probably able to see that the session was being run...

    • 13. Session: Saturday
      (pp. 195-199)

      As we know, P attaches considerable significance to his “See you tomorrow.” It was his goodnight ritual with his mother, and, as we are beginning to notice, seeing has an air of impermanence about it. There is more and there is less than meets the eye, as he reminded Ψ he knew (“I see you often enough!”) in the previous session. So we may not be altogether surprised to find that this incantatory farewell was not strictly speaking accurate. Today is Saturday, and there is no session.

      Saturday is a good day for doing errands with the kids, working in...

    • 14. Session: Monday
      (pp. 200-208)

      Ψ is going to stay out of the patient’s way for he feels the latter is on to a rather vivid experience now, one which he would be wrong to head off with interpretive commentary. P has “found” the “wall” in a place he can work with it. At first it was located in the weekend break, the broken thing that separated them. Then he located it in the analyst’s failure to propose: to give him something to which to respond. For reasons that are unclear, this touched off a feeling of compunction in Ψ that later he was angrily...

    • 15. Session: Tuesday
      (pp. 209-215)

      Soon P and Ψ are going to leave matters there for the day. They work the fifty-minute hour but both, I think, would have welcomed a slightly earlier cessation. Some analysts do not. They work when the patient is in a mood to and discontinue when the silences start or can be heard underneath the chatter. Or they discontinue when they feel that one or both simply have said what needed saying. But there is a fashion, not perhaps unlike the scheduling of programs on television, in which matters end on the hour or half-hour no matter how little or...

    • 16. Session: Wednesday
      (pp. 216-222)

      Unlike the analyst in the “Who listens?” joke, Ψ feels tired at the end of the day. Not only does he listen, he goes through experiences P brings to him. Perhaps too much so, but Ψ is only human and from time to time has preoccupations of his own; at such times his container runneth over. But then Ψ believes that there is a model of communication that requires P to communicate through projections with which Ψ then identifies himself. P hopes to distract both himself and Ψ from experiencing those experiences as if they were P’s. He feels if...

    • 17. Session: Friday
      (pp. 223-233)

      People come about people, it is often thought—about relationships. This is what P said while reproving Ψ for his introduction of himself into P’s attempts to gain insight into his relationship with T. From this point of view, Ψ was iatrogenically causing a problem for P by Ψ’s steadfastness or unwillingness (or inability) to deal with P’s relations with the actual world of events and people. Ψ put this down in part to his own envy of P’s other relationships, but he discounted this feeling as one given him by P that P wanted him to feel so that...

    • 18. Session: Monday
      (pp. 234-238)

      How very helpful of P to bail Ψ out from his egregiousness the previous session! Not too superego-ish at all. The help T and Ψ gave him about his envy allowed him to forgive, or almost forgive, Ψ’s enthusiastic preemptions of P’s well-being. Doubtless Ψ will hear, in replay, the excessiveness of his apology and it will alert him to the continuation of this countertransference of his. But P does rather have a way with him in bringing out these excesses. He seems to be adept in stimulating people to regret how they are. Ψ seems to have become heir...

    • 19. Session: Wednesday
      (pp. 239-250)

      The trouble with dead people, ruminates Ψ, watching P leaving the session, P walking the least bit stiffly from his ordeal in the box that is also the coffin, is that they don’t always know when they are dead. They think they are merely on to a new part, the dead person part. Noises off, so to say. These are are no-things. The presences of what is absent. They exude hostility the way a rotting corpse exudes the stink of decay. The Yellow River people, Ψ remembers hearing from an anthropologist friend, do not go out at night, at least...

    • 20. Session: Thursday
      (pp. 251-256)

      “… And so,” Ψ is saying, unburdened with the weighty issues we have been considering, “And so?”

      P is silent. He is debating whether to answer this as a question or as Ψ has instructed him to (just what comes to mind, please). He doesn’t know what he is to do. Whatisit that Ψ wants, anyhow. [This is such a misery. This is so very bad. Of all the people in the entire world P would like to talk this situation over with. Something has gone badly wrong, and if he had to define it, he would say...

    • 21. Session: Friday
      (pp. 257-268)

      And sad he is, but not quite yet. There are hopes and options. Mourning has not become electric, as Ψ might say in his tonguetied way. And it is impressive, thinking of the child P was, to see unfolding the sense of option and opportunity he was able to contrive for himself. He is frightened, of course, of exactly that. He feels incorrigible. He feels he will never “grow up,” a feeling he has felt always, a feeling that probably so scared him into “outgrowing” himself that he never had time togrowup. This is another prong of death’s...

  7. Part Three Conclusion

    • 22. Conclusion
      (pp. 271-278)

      In the pages now recumbent under the reader’s left thumb, I have put forth some paradigms and paradoxes as ways of further explaining the conflicts of motive to which people are subject. The gist of these conflicts is that we behave as if we had been genetically lumbered by our forebears to take a hand in our own genetic destiny. So far as biologists are concerned, such a genetic imposition is commonplace, for it has long been evident that behavior patterns are as heritable as morphological traits are. I do not argue as to whether such a heritage is good...

  8. Table of [Kaleidoscopic] Elements
    (pp. 279-280)
  9. References
    (pp. 281-288)
  10. Index
    (pp. 289-294)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 295-295)