The Telescoping of Generations – Listening to Narcissistic Links between Generations – Haydee Faimberg, 2005

Genomic Workshop p. 48   “In, 1934, before her own analytic training, Marion Milner drew attention to Keats’ expression ‘negative capability‘. As we know, Bion took up this formulation in his celebrated contribution on memory and desire (Bion, 1976, ‘Notes on memory and desire’, Psychoanalytic Forum 2(3): 271-80).  I myself consider that negative capability involves the acquisition of a new analytic capability in which the analyst places himself actively in the countertransference position of not knowing in order to be able to listen to, and be surprised by, the unknown.  This presupposes that the analyst can contain the anxiety of not knowing and get his bearings in relation to what as yet has no representation.  In other words, the analyst puts himself in the countertransference position of containing the unpleasure generated both by what the patient rejects of himself as unpleasant and by what is still an enigma.  In a word, the analyst contains in his countertransference position an as yet unanalysed part of the transference.

If the analyst fails to contain the countertransference symptom and does not recognize it, he will tend in his turn to reject what arouses unpleasure in him and will probably decide that his patient is not analysable.  This does not mean that every patient is analysable, but that analysability depends on both protagonists, patient and analyst, and not only on the patient.  Precisely for this reason, analysis of the countertransference position has implications in the sphere of what I like to call psychoanalytic ethics.  When we decide to accept a patient, one of the criteria we use is whether the suffering communicated (by words or by silence) to us by this individual patient can be contained by our countertransference position.  If we take a positive decision, we shall have helped to create the conditions whereby the unsayable can become sayable.  The ethical aspect has to do with the fact that the decision calls for a precise analysis of our personal constellation, enabling us to evaluate our ability to place our psychical functioning in the service of this specific patient.  When we decline to accept a patient, this may mean ‘I cannot be your analyst’ and not necessarily ‘You are unanalysable’.  It seems to me that the ethical aspect here is that, by acknowledging our limits, we are allowing the patient to look for the analyst who will be best able to help him. However, I must emphasize that this does not mean that every person must be deemed analysable.”

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