Peter GABRIEL: Gedanken eines Psychoanalytikers kurz nach Beginn des Krieges in der Ukraine
Erstveröffentlicht im Rahmen des Jahrbuchs der Psychoanalyse auf www.psychosozial-verlag.de
Psychoanalyse in China – ein internationales Projekt
Seit 2010 arbeitet Frau Dr. A. Laimböck in einem internationalen Projekt mit, in dem chinesiche KollegInnen in psychoanalytischer Psychotherapie ausgebildet werden. Zweimal im Jahr reisen vor allem deutsche PsychoanalytikerInnen nach Shanghai, um am Shanghai Mental Health Center, einem der beiden von der World Health Organisation (WHO) für China anerkannten und unterstützten Ausbildungszentren für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, psychoanalytische Psychotherapie zu lehren. Für dieses Projekt ist inzwischen ein Curriculum entstanden, das eine umfangreiche Theorievermittlung, Supervision und Selbsterfahrung umfasst. Fortgeschrittene TeilnehmerInnen können einen zweiten Kurs mit einer ausführlichen Gruppenselbsterfahrung und weiterer Therapieausbildung durchlaufen. Zu dem Programm gehören auch Forschungsvorhaben, wie die Untersuchung der psychosozialen Folgen der Kulturrevolution oder der psychischen Folgen des rapiden ökonomisch-sozialen Wandels. In diesem Zusammenhang und auf dem Hintergrund ihrer Erfahrungen veröffentlichte Frau Laimböck einen Artikel mit dem Titel „Menschen in China zwischen Rückzug und Aufbruch“, der auch die Grundlage für einen ausführlichen Vortrag im IAP bildete.
Den Kern dieser Untersuchung bildet die psychoanalytische Auswertung einer Episode in einer der Selbsterfahrungsgruppen. Diese Gruppen finden in vier Tranchen mit jeweils ca. 17 Sitzungen, also insgesamt 70 Sitzungen a 1 ½ Stunden, statt. In dieser und anderen angeführten Kulturereignissen ortet die Autorin einen spezifischen Umgang mit dem inneren Konflikt, einerseits das Bestehende zu brauchen und zu unterstützen und andererseits unerträgliche Verhältnisse ändern zu wollen. Eine typische Bewegung vom Wunsch nach Umgestaltung, dem Aufbegehren, der aufflammenden Angst vor der Autorität, der Abwehr erlittener Kränkungen und Verletzungen zu einem vorläufigen Rückzug in private Gefilde, ist dort zu erkennen.
Edith Frank-Rieser, PhD
Austrian Circle of Psychoanalysis
Roundtable: The Challenge of Psychoanalysis in the 21st Century
XVII. Forum of Psychoanalysis, Oct. 2012, Mexico City
To reflect on the challenge of Psychoanalysis in our present and future demands to understand our everyday experience of the psychoanalytic relationship as a microsocial diagram of the present mode of human relationship as a whole:
- the intrapsychic relationship of the individual to himself
- the interpersonal relationship of the individual to each other in family, group, society and culture
- the social relations to human beings of other societies and regions nearby and all over the world
- the spiritual relationship to human life itself in its mysteriousness and its collective development of awareness through the centuries
These modes of relationship are not separate from each other but are intertwined like concentric circles and influence each other in a more or less unconscious way. As psychoanalysts we are part of the influence – affected and involved by the same changes whose hidden ideologies we, as professionals, have to reflect on.
On this Forum we will hear about many aspects of changing conditions, symptoms and views on human suffering – therefore I will try to focus only on one of the obvious increasing demands on organizations as well as on individuals: the demand – and delusion – of ‚optimization’, publicly discussed as an economical need for worldwide growing (whatever is supposed to mean ‚growing’) as well as a solution for a successful individual development (whatever is supposed to mean ‚successful’).
Of course optimization is to be seen as a basic wish and intention of human beings and societies to proceed to a better life and existence; this positive aspect of cultural enhancement has existed for centuries. This longing to improve living conditions has caused a variety of enriching results as well as failures in times of war and violence.
But in this paper, I want to focus on the alienated aims of this collective efforts which destroy the psycho-social development rather than supporting it.
Optimization of individual development already begins before birth and puts parents under the pressure of organizing the best conditions for their child. The growing knowledge of prenatal diagnosis and gene analysis creates images of what are ‚right’ and what are ‚wrong’ babies and forces pregnant women to give birth only to ‚healthy’ children (or only to one prefered sex – for instance male babies in India). If women refuse this kind of decision-making they are made responsible for the supposedly unhappy life of a f.e. handicapped human being which is imagined as a mere torture. Although there is help from public organisations for almost all problems of life and development, the intolerance of increasing costs for social integration or development is growing too.
The latent message of ‚optimization’ is evident: the human biological material has to be improved to a better race to guarantee a better functioning within the society (with lower costs for the community or insurance systems) and a high level of luck and prosperity. The effect is a new psychosocial racism between those who accept self-optimization as an economic responsibility (and freedom) and those who don’t or cannot follow this aim.
Results of scientific research of biological conditions are at once misunderstood and propagated as the possibility to eliminate illness, ugliness and mischief. Medical practice changes its aim to heal into an aim of prevention and enhancement along a new definition of which life is worth to be preserved or not.
Moreover, this generates the impression that there exists a personal right of being born as the best possible version of oneself and enlarges the fear of not being perfectly enough produced by one’s parents. The natural drive of physical and psychosocial development as the way to become a worthy human being is mistrusted and lifelong development is often seen as an unreasonable effort with low effect.
We can easily recognize the ongoing aim of self-optimization which started in the past century and led to the Euthanasia-program against ‚worthless life’ of National-Sozialism in Europe.
Back to the individual development:
Regarding these new possibilities and demands parents have to choose whether they build up a relationship to their children’s given abilities and unique character as a lifelong process of learning together or to build up an anxious relationship to an ideal image which the children have to realize with the help of a complete program of promotion, education and support.
Children feel the difference in the ambitious parential contact and early get the impression of not being good enough for the parents’ aims and love. Reacting to this insecure binding they want to release the parents’ anxiety and ambivalence. They either try to prove themselves as a success of the parents’ efforts or refuse their support for an ideal self-construction with different pathologies, as for instance attention deficit disorder.
In this family-dynamic self-relationship changes from a creative curiosity in one’s feelings, imaginations and experiences to an early selfcontrol, whether the aims of the ideal construction and selfmanagement are fullfilled or not. Even the aim of happiness has to be fullfilled because constructing oneself as an optimized child and later adult confirms the parents’ – and society’s – narcissistic value and promises a lifelong maximum of luck.
Self-relationship to an ego-developping self as a dialogue with inner life and introjected living objects cannot take place within an introjected terror of optimization. Symbolization as the main process of creating the inner space of interaction with the world fails.
Individuals who feel not ‚optimized’ enough suffer panic and fear to be ‚only’ oneself and to be excluded from social relations as a worthless failure.
We all know several coping strategies as f.e. eating disorders as a trial to manage successfully the smallest world – the own body - or drug abuse and flight into virtual realities, or acts of identification with aggressive heroes or ideological (religious) revolutions.
The loss of an accepting relationship to the nature of oneself and to loving others of the social environment causes strategies to repair this narcissistic wound in repeating the same pressure to self-optimization with those who live on the lowest level of prosperity and success. To exclude foreigners, migrants or handicapped individuals from an accepting relationship within society contains the irrational unconscious hope to be accepted by society as the one who works for law and order for the successful opinionleaders. Thus radicalism and racism regain more and more acceptance among those who believe in the ‚survival of the fittest’.
The lasting effort to keep oneself – really or by phantasy – within the acceptance of a successful social system eliminates more and more the ability to recognize human beings of other social and cultural regions as belonging to the same unique human life. Not knowing the reality of the living conditions of foreigners the individual phantasizes them as either priviledged or as underdevelopped, or - as in the world economy - as a mere ressource for one’s own needs: as if the recognition of human rights only protect the own wellfare and doesn’t mean the duty to actively protect the lifes of others too.
The loss of a solidary view on foreign people works on the base of the minimized relationship to life itself in its mysteriousness and its collective development of awareness through generations. The individual places himself on top of the value of life as its final result, not accepting the fact that the development of awareness and humanity is an open process which depends on our willingness to engage in self-reflection and to take steps towards more humanity and knowledge.
This kind of spiritiuality seems to have been cancelled since the Age of Enlightenment as the triumph of modern thinking – as well as a consequence of some psychoanalytical theories.
With this rational consequence the intuitive social relationship and self-awareness, which is the earliest and lifelong means of relatedness as the basis for human development, is negotiated. Rationalism and abstraction therefore rebuild development as a mere construction along ideologies instead of using intuitive and related ways of developing awareness of each other. Each science and its practice – ours too - has to deal with this consequence and to reflect on the alienated dynamics of relatedness.
To sum up: The ruling economic ideal of optimizing all human resources, abilities and creations tempts us to abuse the increasing knowledge of the conditions of human development. The narcissistic aim of constructing the ideal human being enforces self-optimization as a personal responsibility. This pressure creates a new psychosocial racism with the effect of the loss of relatedness of a personal Me to a personal You – as we already know is part of the mainstream of the economical racism esp. of the western civilization.
We all know the symptoms of this loss in the different personal relations – to oneself, to the other, the world, to life itself – and have to keep a critical distance to society’s demands on our profession. We have to refuse to ‚optimize’ our patients for economic reasons and refuse to ‚optimize’ our practice towards these hidden ideologies.
Thus we also have to resist the temptation to be defined as the only professionals of improvement. We have to be aware in which way Psychoanalysis itself can get alienated from its aim to understand and to enable individual psychosocial development.