K IS S I N G

TIC K L I N G
and
B El N G B 0 R E D
P Jychoanalytic EJJaYJ on the U neamineJ Lie
e .
A D A M PHILLIPS
#
$19.95
T
ickle a child, and she peals with laughter.
Go on too long, and her laughter is sure
to turn to tears. Where is that ticklish line
between pleasure and pain? Why do we risk its
being crossed? Does psychoanalysis possess the
language to talk about such an extraordinary
ordinary thing? In a style that is writerly and
audacious, Adam Phillips takes up this subject
and others largely overlooked by psychoanalysis
-kissing, worrying, risk, solitude, and compo­
sure. He writes about phobias as a kind of
theory a form of protection against curiosity;
about analysis as a patient's way of reconstitut­
ing solitude; about "good-enough" mothering
a the antithesis of "bad-enough" imperialism:
about psychoanalysis as an attempt to cure idol­
atry through idolatry; and even about farting as
it relates to worrying.
Psychoanalysis began a a virtuoso improvisa­
tion within the science of medicine, but virtuos­
ity has given way to the dream of science that
only the examined life is worth living. Phillips
shows that the drive to omniscience has been
unfortunate both for psychoanalysis and for life.
On KU.ing, Tikling, and Beti Bored is a set of
meditations on underinvestigated themes in psy­
choanalysis that shows how much one's psychic
health depends on establishing a realm of life
that successfully resists examination.
On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored
O
n
Kissing) Tickling)
and
Being Bored
Psychoanalytic Essays on the
Unexamined Life
ADAM PHILLIPS
HARV ARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Copyright © 1993 by Adam Phillips
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
This book is printed on acid-free paper, and its binding materials have been chosen for
strength and durability.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Phillips, Adam.
On kissing, tickling, and being bored: psychoanalytic essays on
the unexamined life / Adam Phillips.
p. cm.
Includes index.
ISBN 0-674-63462-4 (alk. paper)
1. Psychoanalysis. 2. Freud, Sigmund, 1856-1939. 3. Winnicott,
D. W. (Donald Woods), 1896-1971. I. Title.
RC509.P55 1993
616.89'17-dc20
92-20662
CIP
For Hugh Haughton
Preface
Because psychoanalysis is about the most ordinary things in the
world it should not be diffcult to be interested in. The essays
in this book have been written in the belief that any psycho­
analytic theory that is of interest only to members of the profes­
sion is unlikely to be worth reading. So I am grateful to have
been able to publish most of them originally in journals-the
Nouvelle Revue de Psychanalyse, Raritan, the London Review of
Books-which have, as it were, a wider appeal. Each of these
journals, in quite different ways, endorses J L. Austin's remark
that "it is not enough to show how clever we are by showing
how obscure everything is. " It was at the invitation of Michel
Gribinski and J-B. Pontalis, the editors of the Nouvelle Revue,
that I first began writing the essays in this book. I have gained
a great deal from their incitement, their translations, and their
hospitality (and the fact that they are unbeglamored by obscur­
ity). Similarly, in Richard Poirier and Suzanne Hyman at Raritan
and Mary-Kay Wilmers at the London Review of Books, I have
had the kind of congenial and attentive editors that have
improved everything that I have submitted to them. Also, at
Harvard University Press I am very grateful to Angela von der
Lippe and Lindsay Waters for keeping faith with the project
over several years, and to Ann Hawthorne for editing the manu­
script with such a good ear.
Jacqueline Rose made enormous differences at the last
moment; the book has been braced by her shrewd enthusiasm.
In our clinical work with children and families at Charing Cross
Hospital, my colleague Glenda Fredman has transformed the
way I think about psychoanalysis; some of these essays derive
from conversations we have had, and some of the best lines in
PREFACE
- V1ll -
them may be hers. Sarah Spankie has entitled more than this
particular book.
Throughout the text, I have observed the economical.but
obviously unsatisfactory convention of using the masculine
pronoun.
Contents
Introduction
1 . On Tickling
2. First Hates: Phobias in Theory
3. On Risk and Solitude
4. On Composure
5. Worrying and Its Discontents
6. Returning the Dream:
In Memoriam Masud Khan
7. On Being Bored
8. Looking at Obstacles
9. Plotting for Kisses
10. Playing Mothers: Between Pedagogy
and Transference
1 1 . Psychoanalysis and Idolatry
Notes
Credits
Index
1
9
1 2
27
42
47
59
68
79
93
101
1 09
1 23
1 30
1 31
The results oflife are un calculated and uncalculable. The
years teach much which the days never know. The per­
sons who compose our company converse, and come
and go, and design and execute many things, and some­
what comes of it all, but an un looked-for result. The
individual is always mistaken. He designed many things,
and drew in other persons as coadjutors, quarrelled with
some or all, blundered much, and something is done; all
are a little advanced, but the individual is always mis­
taken. It turns out somewhat new and very unlike what
he promised himself
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Experience
Which is wrong? The weather or our calendars?
John Cage, A Year .om Monday
When people think they've seen enough of something,
but there's more, and no change of shot, then they react
in a curiously livid way.
Wim Wenders, Time Sequences, Continuity of Movement
Introduction
Brichard was quite right when he said to me with his
usual malice: "When you're in love with a woman, you
must ask yourself What do I want to do with her?"
Stendhal, The Li of Henr Brulard
When Freud began to discover what we now think of as
psychoanalysis, it was clear to him what it was to be used for.
It was a new method, a potential form of cure, in the medical
treatment of what were then called hysterical symptoms. And
insofar as psychoanalysis was a medical treatment, the concept
of cure seemed relatively unproblematic. "I have often in my
own mind, " Freud wrote,
compared cathartic psychotherapy with surgical inter­
vention. I have described my treatments as psychothera­
peutic operations; and I have brought out their analogy
with the opening up of a cavity filled with pus, the scrap­
ing out of a carious region, etc. An analogy of this kind
finds its justification not so much in the removal of what
is pathological as in the establishment of conditions that
are more likely to lead the course of the process in the
direction of recovery. 1
In this concluding section of Studies on Hysteria ( 1 895),
Freud is interested in the consequences of his analogy. He is
comparing talking to someone with a surgical operation, which
now seems an unusual thing to do (for obvious reasons, sur­
geons don't tend to think of their work as a form of conversa­
tion) . The operation, Freud suggests, is not the cure; it is only
the prelude to the cure. By removing the pathological material
the surgeon creates the conditions in which the cure can take
ON KIS SING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
*
2
*
place. The cure can begin only after the treatment has ended.
The psychotherapist simply clears the way to establish the con­
ditions requisite for recovery. Obstacles are removed to facili­
tate a possible process. But to believe in such a process, and to
know what a cure is-what recovery looks like-the doctor
must already know what a life is supposed to look like. In any
analogy-and Freud had to be preoccupied with analogies for
psychoanalysis because it was so diffcult to place-two s ets of
largely tacit assumptions s eem to join forces.
All of Freud's by now well-known analogies for the skill
of the psychoanalyst are in one s ense immensely reassuring.
They orientate the curious very quickly. The det ective knows
a clue when he s ees one, and has a recondite ability to read it;
the archaeologist can imagine a past that makes s ense of the
rubbl e; and the doctor, of cours e, recognizes the symptoms of
a dis ease. In each of thes e professions the pragmatic aims of
their respective practices are apparently clear. All of these
professions can formulate their aims because they have them
(or vice versa) . The vocabularies that constitute their practices
are their idea of what they are attempting to do. And because
their tasks are definabl e-and teachable-they will know what
it is to fail. In other words, canonical t exts, persuasive prac­
titioners, and training institutions conspire to create the neces­
sary aura of plausibility. Even if there are mavericks like Sher­
lock Holmes, they can be mavericks only against a backdrop
of orthodoxy.
Psychoanalysis, at its inception, had no t exts, no institu­
tions, and no rhetoric; all it had to s ee itself with were analogies
with other forms of practice. The first practitioners of psycho­
analysis were making it up as they went along, Freud being the
prototype of the "wild analyst. " Psychoanalysis, that is to say,
was improvis ed; but improvised, despite the medical training
of the early analysts, out of a peculiarly indefnable s et of con­
ventions. Freud had to improvis e between the availabl e analo­
gies, and he took them, sometimes in spite of hims elf, from
the sci ences and the arts. Something new, after all, can be com­
pared only with something from the past, something alr eady
Introduction
- 3 -
established. Even though Freud's analogies were compelling,
sustaining at once the romance and the worthiness of psycho­
analysis, he was unwilling to describe the ways in which psy­
choanalysis was unlike the professions he most admired; the
ways in which psychoanalysis, for example-as I suggest at
various points in these essays-turns the familiar concept of
cure into the problem rather than the solution. It is indeed dis­
appointing-as I show in "Playing Mothers" -that after Freud
had invented a new kind of person called a psychoanalyst, some
clinicians began to believe that a psychoanalyst should be, in
some way, "like" a mother. Psychoanalysts have been tardy
about this problem of unlikeness.
Psychoanalysis began, then, as a kind of virtuoso improvi­
sation within the science of medicine; and free association-the
heart of psychoanalytic treatment-is itself ritualized improvi­
sation. But Freud was dete, rmined to ke�p psychoanalysis offi­
cially in the realm of scientific rigor, partly, I think, because
improvisation is diffcult to legitimate-and to sell-outside
of a cult of genius. With the invention of psychoanalysis-or
rather, with the discovery of what he called the unconscious­
Freud glimpsed a daunting prospect: a profession of impro­
visers. And in the ethos of Freud and his followers, improvisa­
tion was closer to the inspiration of artists than to the discipline
of scientists. Prospectively, and despite the range of his own
cultural interests, Freud wanted to think of himself as a scientist.
Retrospectively it seems rather as though it �as very much the
confuence of disparate traditions-and traditionally separated
disciplines-that produced the new sentences that are called
psychoanalytic theory. Curiosity, which Freud did so much to
redescribe, is always opportunism.
One does not need to idealize either the indefinite or the
improvised to think that the fact that psychoanalysis is difficult
to place-unlike a lot of things to which it is similar-may be
one of its distinctive virtues. Nor need it be cause for dismay­
despite the splits and the synthesizing of theories (the having
of "dialogues") in contemporary psychoanalysis-that psycho­
analysis can be a circus with many acts. There is no reason why
ON KIS SING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 4 -
psychoanalysts should agree with one another-be either zeal­
ously partisan or gently pluralist-nor is there any reason to
believe that if the perfect synthesis of competing theories is
achieved it will speak inside the analyst like a god telling him
what to do in the ordinary disarray of a psychoanalytic session.
A repertoire might be more useful than a conviction; especially if
one wants to keep in mind that there are many kinds of good life.
The psychoanalysis that interests me-and that is enter­
tained in these essays-tries to do this. It is prodigal in its use
of analogy and promiscuous in its references because the very
process of comparing and contrasting, mixing and matching,
offers the possibility of more enlivefiing and diverse redescrip­
tions. One sense in which a life is always unexamined-or end­
lessly examinable-is that it can always be described in different
ways, from different points of view. And psychoanalysis can
be good at showing the ways in which certain points of view
become invested with authority; but it is also too good at assum­
ing an authoritative point of view for itself By pooling the
language of psychoanalysis rather than hoarding it-by circulat­
ing it in unusual places with other languages-psychoanalysis
can be relieved of the knowingness that makes it look silly; the
knowingness that comes from its "splendid isolation," the fan­
tasies of inner superiority in the profession. And it keeps alive
the potentially glib irony that psychoanalysts are experts-if
they are experts about anything-about the fact that there are
no experts on life. Psychoanalysis is a story-and a way of
telling stories-that makes some people feel better. But there
are, and have been, many stories in the culture and in other
cultures through which people examine, and do other things
to, their lives. Psychoanalysis-as a form of conversation-is
worth having only if it makes our lives more interesting, or
funnier, or sadder, or more tormented, or whatever it is about
ourselves that we value and want to promote; and especially if
it helps us fnd new things about ourselves that we didn't know
we could value. New virtues are surprisingly r, are.
As an evolving and relatively new story it is one of the dis­
tinctive virtues of psychoanalysis that it can give us new lines
Introduction
-
5
-
on things that matter to us (like kissing, tickling, and being
bored). But psychoanalysis itself has now become available as an
analogy, and analogies, of course, work both ways. If psycho­
analysis can make worrying more interesting, then worrying
can make psychoanalysis more interesting. It is this kind of
enthusiasm that psychoanalysis is particularly prone to-signifi­
cantly so-and that Freud tried to use the idea of science to
manage, to keep the traffic going one way. When he did so in,
for example, "The Question of Weltanschauung" in The New
Introductory Lectures, he became unusually strident in his dismis­
sals of philosophy, art, and religion, producing caricatures of
them in his promotion of science as the supreme method of
human inquiry. Science, and psychoanalysis as a science, can
be used to explain religion, but religion cannot-indeed must
not-be used to explain science. Science, as I show in
"Psychoanalysis and Idolatry," becomes for Freud the method
he believes to be most exempt from wishfulness, and therefore
the most truthful (and despite the fact that the relationship to
truth becomes a sadomasochistic one, truth being that which
it is better for us to submit to). Having, through psychoanalysis,
placed the wish at the center of mental life, the wish then
becomes the saboteur, the contaminator, of truth.
By allying psychoanalysis so insistently with science-with
a pursuit of truth irrespective of value-it was as though Freud
could also exempt himself and his "new science" from the old
question of what a good life is. But his fear of wishing and his
disavowal of psychoanalysis as a form of ethical inquiry are, of
course, connected; because another version of the question,
What constitutes a good life? is the question, What kind of
person does one want to be? Quite understandably this has been
a question-and a connection-that Freud, and psychoanalysts
after him, have been wary of. It is, after all, an extraordinary
thing to take wishing seriously. If it were to be taken seriously
in psychoanalytic trainings, for example, the question for the
trainee at any given moment would not be, Am I doing th�s
properly? but, Do I want to be the kind of person, say, who at
this moment refuses to answer the patient's question?
ON KIS SING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 6 -
Insofar as psychoanalysis is essentialist-wh�n, for exam­
ple, psychoanalysts claim to believe in instincts, development,
or innate preconceptions-it can only try to reconcile people to
who they are by telling them what that is. In Freud's work, as
we know, there is an inspiring contradiction: on the one hand
he describes what a life is, a developmental progress through
the oral, anal, and phallic stages fueled by the "war" between
two fundamental instincts, Eros and Thanatos; and on the other
hand he describes an unconscious that is by definition the sabo­
teur of intelligibility and normative life-stories. Indeed psycho­
analysis, as described by Freud, might make us wonder why it
is so difficult to imagine a life without normative life-stories. A
good life, in this context, is either the successful negotiation of
a more or less preset developmental project (in which the ques­
tion, Set by whom? might seem irrelevant); or it can be some­
thing that we make up as we go along, according to our wishes,
in endlessly proliferating and competing versions, the uncon­
scious, as Richard Rorty has remarked, feeding us our best
lines. 2 Psychoanalysis in this version cannot help people,
because there is nothing wrong with anybody; it can only
engage them in useful and interesting conversations. So one
could then say that as a form of treatment psychoanalysis is a
conversation that enables people to understand what stops them
from having the kinds of conversation they want, and how they
have come to believe that these particular conversations are
worth wanting. Rather than: psychoanalysis is a conversation
that helps people get back on track. Psychoanalysis, in other
words, would be a curiosity profession instead of a helping
profession. It is, of course, one of the tacit assumptions of
psychoanalysis that there can be no good life, and no curiosity,
without talking.
Psychoanalysis does not assume, in the same way, the value
of writing (one couldn't do analysis as a correspondence course,
although some accounts of analysis sound remarkably like one).
But the kind of distinction I have been making for the treatment
of psychoanalysis also holds for the writing of psychoanalysis.
One of the dramas that these essays try to sustain-and that is
Introduction
- 7 -
present in every clinical encounter-is the antagonism between
the already narrated, examined life of developmental theory and
the always potential life implied by the idea of the unconscious.
The confict between knowing what a life is and the sense that
a life contains within it something that makes such knowing
impossible is at the heart of Freud's enterprise. So in one kind
of psychoanalytic writing the theorist will be telling us by virtue
of his knowledge of development or the contents of the internal
world what a life should be like, however tentatively this may
be put. And in another kind of psychoanalytic writing-which
in its most extreme and sometimes inspired form pretends to
ape the idea of the unconscious-there is a different kind of
conscious wish at work: rather than informing the reader there
is an attempt, to echo Emerson, to return the reader to his own
thoughts whatever their majesty, to evoke by provocation.
According to this way of doing it, thoroughness is not inciting.
No amount of "evidence" or research will convince the un­
amused that a joke is funny. And by the same token ambiguity,
inconsistency, or sentences that make you wonder whether the
writer really knows what he is talking about, are considered to
be no bad thing. I prefer-and write in these essays-this kind
of psychoanalysis, but each is impossible without the other.
Their complicity is traditionally underrated in psychoanalysis.
One can put the whole notion of what it is to understand into
question-as psychoanalysis does-without sneering at the
wish for intelligibility, the wish to find stories for whatever is
unbecoming.
The different kinds of psychoanalysis have different proj­
ects, different "dreams of Eden," to use Auden's phrase.3 So
we don't have to worry, for example, about whether psycho­
analysis is scientifc or not; we simply have to ask what we want
to do with it. People have traditionally come for psychoanalytic
conversation because the story they are telling themselves about
their lives has stopped, or become too painful, or both. The
aim of the analysis is to restore the loose ends-and the looser
beginnings-to the story. But if the story is fxed-if the patient
ends up speaking psychoanalysis-we must assume that some-
ON KIS SING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 8 -
thing has been lost in translation. Psychoanalysis is essentially
a transitional language, one possible bridge to a more personal,
less compliant idiom. It is useful only as a contribution to forms
of local knowledge, as one among the many language games in
a culture (and the local, of course, starts with the individual
person and his always recondite sense of himself ). In order to
regain interest in the idea of the unconscious we have to lose
interest in the idea of the superordinate point of view:
Who has once met
irony will burst into laughter
during the prophet's lecture. 4
1 -
On Tickling
The ear says more
Than any tongue.
W. S. Graham, "The Hill of Intrusion"
"If you tickle us, do we not laugh?" asks Shylock, defining
himself as human as he begins to "feed" his revenge. And what
is more ordinary in the child's life than his hunger for revenge
and, indeed, the experience of being tickled? From a psycho­
analytic point of view it is curious that this common, perhaps
universal, experience has rarely been thought about; and not
surprising that once we look at it we can see so much.
An absolute of calculation and innocence, the adult's tick­
ling of the child is an obviously acceptable form of sensuous
excitement between parents and children in the family. The
child who will be able to feed himself, the child who will mas­
turbate, will never be able to tickle himself It is the pleasure
he cannot reproduce in the absence of the other. "From the fact
that a child can hardly tickle itself," Darwin wrote in his Expres­
sion of the Emotions in Man and Animals, "or in a much less degree
than when tickled by another person, it seems that the precise
point to be touched must not be known. " An enigmatic conclu­
sion, which, though manifestly untrue-children know exactly,
like adults, where they are ticklish-alerts us to the fact that
these "precise points" are a kind of useless knowledge to the
child, that they matter only as shared knowledge. They require
the enacted recognition of the other.
Helpless with pleasure, and usually inviting this helpless­
ness, the child, in the ordinary, affectionate, perverse scenario
of being tickled, is wholly exploitable. Specific adults know
ON KIS SING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 1 0 -
where the child is ticklish-it is, of course, only too easy to
fnd out-but it is always idiosyncratic, a piece of personal
history, and rarely what Freud called one of the "predestined
erotogenic zones. " Through tickling, the child will be initiated
in a distinctive way into the helplessness and disarray of a cer­
tain primitive kind of pleasure, dependent on the adult to hold 1
and not to exploit the experience. And this means to stop at
the blurred point, so acutely felt in tickling, at which plea­
sure becomes pain, and the child experiences an intensely
anguished confusion; because the tickling narrative, unlike
the sexual narrative, has no climax. It has to stop, or the real
humiliation begins. The child, as the mother says, will get hys­
terical.
In English, the meaning of the word tickle is, so to speak,
almost antithetical, employing, as Freud said of the dream­
work, "the same means of representation for expressing con­
traries. " The Oxford English Dictionary cites, among nineteen
defnitions of the word, the following: "In unstable equilibrium,
easily upset or overthrown, insecure, tottering, crazy . . . nicely
poised. " Other defnitions describe a range of experience from
excessive credulity to incontinence. The word speaks of the
precarious, and so of the erotic. To tickle is, above all, to seduce,
often by amusement. But of the two references to tickling in
Freud (both in the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality), it is
used as virtually synonymous with stroking: included, quite
accurately and unobtrusively, as part of the child's ordinary
sensuous life. Describing the characteristics of an erotogenic
zone, Freud writes:
It is part of the skin or mucous membrane in which
stimuli of a certain sort evoke a feeling of pleasure pos­
sessing a particular quality. There can be no doubt that
the stimuli which produce the pleasure are governed by
special conditions, though we do not know what those
are. A rhythmic character must play a part among them
and the analogy of tickling is forced upon our notice. It
seems less certain whether the character of the pleasurable
feeling evoked by the stimulus should be described as a
On Tickling
- 1 1 -
"specific" one-a "specific" quality in which the sexual
factor would precisely lie. Psychology is still so much in
the dark in questions of pleasure and unpleasure that the
most cautious assumption is the one most to be recom­
mended.2
Freud is certain here only of what he does not know. But in
the light of his uncertainty, which provokes the most careful
questions, what is the most cautious assumption we can make
about these specifc pleasures called tickling and being tickled?
In the elaborate repertoire of intrusions, what is the quality­
that is to say, the fantasy-of the experience? Certainly there
is no immediate pressing biological need in this intent, often
frenetic contact that so quickly reinstates a distance, only equally
quickly to create another invitation. Is the tickling scene, at its
most reassuring, not a unique representation of the over­
displacement of desire and, at its most unsettling, a paradigm
of the perverse contract? Does it not highlight, this delightful
game, the impossibility of satisfaction and of reunion, with its
continual reenactment of the irresistible attraction and the
inevitable repulsion of the object, in which the fnal satisfaction
is frustration?
A girl of eight who keeps "losing her stories" in the session
because she has too much to say, who cannot keep still for a
moment, suddenly interrupts herself by saying to me, "I can
only think of you when I don't think of you. " This same,
endlessly elusive child-elusiveness, that is, the inverse of
obsessionality-ends a session telling me, "When we play
monsters, and mummy catches me, she never kills me, she only
tickles me!"
"We can cause laughing by tickling the skin," Darwin
noted of the only sensuous contact that makes one laugh. An
extraordinary fact condensing so much of psychoanalytic inter­
est, but one of which so little is spoken. Perhaps in the cumula­
tive trauma that is development we have had the experience but
deferred the meaning.
- 2-
First Hates:
Phobias in Theory
His radical solutions were rendered vain by the conven­
tionality of his problems.
George Santayana, My Host the World
In his chapter "Instinct" in Psychology: The BrieJr Course ( 1 892),
William James writes:
The progress from brute to man is characterised by
nothing so much as by the decrease in frequency of proper
occasions for fear. In civilised life, in particular, it has at
last become possible for large numbers of people to pass
from the cradle to the grave without ever having had a
pang of genuine fear. Many of us need,�n attack of mental
disease to teach us the meaning' of the word. Hence the
possibility of so much blindly optimistic philosophy and
religion. !
James, of course, is always looking for good transitions, for the
passages that work for us. Like Freud, but for different reasons,
he is wary of the progress in .ivilized life. For Freud, civilization
compromises our desire; for James here, it compromises our
fear. If civilization protects us, or overprotects us, the absence
of danger can make us unrealistic. We may need an attack of
mental disease as the only available reminder of "proper occa­
sions for fear." Without proper occasions we lose the meaning
of an important word. This mental disease that James recom­
mends, partly from his own experience, or rather the real fear
that it entails, should temper speculation, setting limits to the
naive ambitions of metaphysics.
But fear, especially at its most irrational, perplexes James in
First Hates
- 1 3 -
an interesting way; it connects for him three of his most consis­
tent preoccupations: blindness, optimism, and the doing of phi­
losophy. Because, unlike Freud, he doesn't see fear and desire as
inextricable, he is more openly puzzled. Even though "a certain
amount of timidity obviously adapts us to the world we live
in," he writes, "the fear paroxysm is surely altogether harmful
to him who is its prey. " After considering the virtues of immo­
bility-the insane and the terrified "feel safer and more comfort­
able" in their "statue-like, crouching immobility" -James refers
at the very end of his chapter on fear to "the strange symptom
which has been described of late years by the rather absurd name
of agoraphobia." After describing the symptoms, which "have
no utility in a civilised man," he manages to make sense of this
puzzling new phenomenon only by comparing it to the way in
which both domestic cats and many small wild animals approach
large open spaces. "When we see this, "he writes,
we are strongly tempted to ask whether such an odd kind
of fear in us be not due to the accidental resurrection,
through disease, of a sort of instinct which may in some
of our more remote ancestors have had a permanent and
on the whole a useful part to play. 2
The "disease" returns the patient to his instinctual heritage;
but this heritage is now redundant because, in actuality, there
is nothing to fear. Agoraphobics, James suggests, are living in
the past, the evolutionary past ("the ordinary cock-sure evolu­
tionist," James remarks in his droll way, "ought to have no
difficulty in explaining these terrors"}. 3 The agoraphobic is, as
it were, speaking a dead language. So to understand agora­
phobia in James's terms, we have to recontextualize the fear,
put it back in its proper place, or rather, time. There is nothing
really irrational about phobic terror; it is an accurate recognition
of something, something that Darwinian evolution can supply
a picture for. Fear itself cannot be wrong, even if it is difficult
to find out where it fits.
A phobia nevertheless is, perhaps in both senses, an im­
proper occasion for fear, an enforced suspension of disbelief
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1 4 -
James's description of the agoraphobic patient "seized with pal­
pitation and terror at the sight of any open place or broad street
which he has to cross alone" is a vivid picture of a phobia as
an impossible transition. And it can be linked-as a kind of
cartoon-with one of James's famous notions of truth; the
agoraphobic becoming, as it were, the compulsive saboteur of
some of his own truth. "Pragmatism gets her general notion of
truth," James writes in his book of that title,
as something essentially bound up with the way in which
one moment in our experience may lead us towards other
moments which it will be worth while to have been led
to. Primarily, and on the common-sense level, the truth
of a state of mind means this function of a leading that is
worth while.4
The agoraphobic is the figure of the compromised prag­
matist. The threshold of experience between this one moment
and the next is aversive. He wants to go somewhere-or, in
James's more suggestive terms, be led somewhere-but he is
unable to find out whether it is as worthwhile (in both senses)
as he thinks. The terror, or the inability to hold the terror,
preempts possible future states of mind, and so precludes their
evaluation. A phobia, in other words, protects a person from
his own curiosity.
"Agoraphobia," Freud wrote in a letter to Wilhelm Fliess
in 1 887, "seems to depend on a romance of prostitution. "
Despite James's misgiving about its "rather absurd name," and
despite its being Greeked for prestigious legitimation, agora­
phobia seems rather nicely named. The agora, after all, was
that ancient place where words and goods and money were
exchanged. Confronted with an open space, as James and Freud
both agree, the agoraphobic fears that something nasty is going
to be exchanged: one state of mind for another, one desire for
another. But the phobia ensures a repression of opportunity, a
foreclosing of the possibilities for exchange ("a projection is
dangerous," the psychoanalyst Andre Green has written, "when
it prevents the simultaneous formation of an introjection"; in a
phobia one is literally unable to take in what one has invented).
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The agoraphobic, that is to say, knows-Freud would say
unconsciously-what the space is for, or what he wants to use
it for. It then ceases, as though by magic, to be an open space,
or what James calls a pluralistic universe.5 It simply leads into
the past, into the old world.
James and Freud use explanation in quite different ways.
For James the question is not so much, Is it true? as How would
my life be better if I believed it? For Freud the frst question­
the unconscious question, so to speak-is, What do I want?
and then, What fantasies of truth do I need to legitimate it? But
because for James there can never be any knowing beforehand,
he cannot presume to universalize his conclusions. And this is
because there is no end to them; in this sense he is a freer
associationist than Freud. "It is enough to ask of each of us, "
he concludes in his great talk "On a Certain Blindness in Human
Beings," "that he should be faithful to his own opportunities
and make the most of his own blessings, without presuming to
regulate the rest of the vast feld. " 6 The risk for the phobic
person, as for the psychoanalyst, is that he has already used his
explanations to delimit his opportunities .
. . . a face which inspires fear or delight (the object of
fear or delight) is not on that account its cause, but-one
might say-its target.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations
The question of where the fear belongs-or what it is worth­
while to fear-is one that occupies both the phobic person and
his interpreter. Freud himself at one point speculated that child­
hood phobias of small animals and thunder could be "the
atrophied remainders of congenital preparation for real dangers
that are so clearly developed in other animals. " 7 If Freud and
James agree here, with Darwinian common sense, that phobias
are derivative forms of self-protection, that phobic terror is
irrational only insofar as it has missed its target, they radically
disagree about what there is to fear and where it comes from.
They fll the agoraphobic space-its empty page, so to speak­
in quite different ways.
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James's open space, for the agoraphobic, evokes phylo­
genetic memory; Freud's open space evokes personal memory
(and memory for Freud is always of desire and the parented
past). James's open space may be full of potential predators, but
in Freud's open space a person may turn into a predator. "The
anxiety felt in agoraphobia, " Freud wrtes in 1 926,
(a subject that has been less thoroughly studied) seems
to be the ego's fear of sexual temptation-a fear which,
after all, must be connected in its origins with the fear
of castration. As far as can be seen at present, the majority
of phobias go back to an anxiety of this kind felt by the
ego in regard to the demands of the libido.8
For the agoraphobic the open space represents the setting
for a possible incestuous sexual encounter punishable by castra­
tion. Because sexuality begins in incestuous fantasy, it always
smacks of the forbidden. So the phobic scenario, in Freud's
view, appears to invite an illicit reenactment from the past, a
place where, quite unwittingly, a memory could be cast. For
the agoraphobic to go out is to give the past a future, to bring
it forward, so to speak. What the phobic fears, unconsciously,
is not only the replication of this truant past, but also its mod­
ifcation in ways that cannot be anticipated. If one loses the
replica, one might lose the original. These phobic scenarios are
like antiepiphanies in which memory, rather than being released
into images and atmospheres, is frozen into terror. Whereas the
epiphany, in the Proustian sense, is contingent and surprising,
the phobia is reliable. The phobia, which hoards the past, can
be the one place in a person's life where meaning apparently
never changes; but this depends upon one's never knowing what
the meaning is.
Given the insistence and the mobility of the libido in
Freud's account, any occasion might be a proper occasion for
fear. Desire-or what we can, in a different language, call parts
of the self-insofar as it is experienced as intolerable has to be
put somewhere else, projected into hiding. There it can be
acknowledged in terror, but never known about. The pro-
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foundest way of recognizing something, or the only way of
recognizing some things, Freud will imply, is through hiding
them from oneself. And what is profound, or rather of interest,
is not only what one has hidden but also the ways one has of
hiding it. We know only, of course-as in a phobia-about the
repressions that break down. So it is as though, from a psycho­
analytic point of view, our unbearable self-knowledge leads a
secret life; as though there is self-knowledge, but not for us.
For Freud, what has to be explained is not why someone is
phobic, but how anyone ever stops being anything other than
phobic.
A "no" from a person in analysis is quite as ambiguous
as a "yes . "
Sigmund Freud, Constructions in Analysis
An acutely claustrophobic man in his early forties-although
his phobia has increasingly focused on the theater, which he has
always "loved" -remembers, in an otherwise desultory session,
a childhood memory. At about age eight he goes to the oculist,
and one of the tests he is made to do "to find out about his
coordination" is to look down something like a telescope and
with his hands put the dog he sees into the cage that he sees.
He does it successfully and with real pleasure; and the oculist,
a "benign man," says to him, "Well, you'll never be able to
join the RAF!" Understanding that he will never be able to be
a pilot, he is "shattered, " "although until that moment it had
never occurred to me that I wanted to. " And then he adds,
sarcastically, that as an adult he has always been really excited
about traveling in airplanes. It is clear to both of us that this is
something of an ambiguous triumph.
I remind him that his terror in the theater-the fantasy he
desperately wards off, and so "sees" instead of the play-is that
he will jump off the balcony (he had confessed to me in our
first meeting, with some satisfaction, that he always sat in the
circle). He thinks about this but is clearly much less impressed
by it than I am. So I try to impress him by adding that the
theater is a place where you mustn't fly but must look at other
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- 1 8 -
people. He says he remembers reading about a play in Italy in
which the actors came onstage and looked at the audience "in­
stead. " I say, "So you might be wondering in the theater, How
can I get them to look at me?" He mumbles agreement and then
says, slightly mocking me, I think, with one of my own words,
"You mean the actors are rivals. " I say, "Actors seem like people
who are permitted to do forbidden things, to play other parts."
And he says with some quickness in his voice, "I've always
been waiting for someone to ask me to do something I'm not
allowed, but once they've invited me then it's allowed!" After
this new description of the trap there is a pause in which it
seems as though we are both mulling the last bit over. I'm
thinking, among a lot of other things, that he has told me what
he has come to analysis for; and that even if someone is an
oculist it doesn't mean that he necessarily has good eyesight,
good enough to be able to fy. He then says that he feels some­
thing has really ha"ppened in this session-and certainly his
words no longer feel like spectators-but he adds that he knows
that when he goes to the theater next he will feel that he is going
to die of anxiety; and I fnd myself thinking, Why not agree to
die and see what happens?
The childhood memory that helped us push off into the
conversation is clearly very suggestive in terms of the relation­
ship between what you can see, what you can put together, and
the parts you are allowed to play. If flying had represented
possibility for the eight-year-old boy, and possibility, at least
from an oedipal perspective, was inspired by the forbidden,
then the theater-or, indeed, any confned space-was the place
to be. Flying would turn into falling, looking would become
being seen, performance would turn into failure. The theater was
the place where he was connected, through terror, with his wish
to enact forbidden versions of himself And forbidden versions,
in this context, means both those disapproved of by the parents
and those outside the parents' orbit of recognition. As a child
one may experience as forbidden simply the versions of oneself
that turned up under the blank stare of one's parents' blind
spots. The child's most puzzling and urgent projects-which
First Hates
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can pursue him through life like Frankenstein's monster­
sometimes come to life in this no-man's-land. One of this man's
pictures of himself as an adolescent was of someone auditioning
in a completely empty theater.
Describing the way he made sketches, Bonnard wrote in
his notebook: "The practice of cropping of the visual field
almost always gives something which doesn't seem true. Com­
position at the second degree consists of bringing back certain
elements which lie outside the rectangle. " 9 The phobic person is
suspended between the frst and the second degree of com­
position; he assumes, quite sensibly, that making the transition
will break the frame rather than, as Bonnard intimates, making
it a frame for something that seems true. He hovers in his
terror, unable to make that decisive transition.
If horror, as WilliamJames wrote, is a "vertiginous bafing
of the expectation," then phobic horror is a bafing of the
awareness of expectation; there is nothing but paralysis or flight.
But in thinking about phobias it's worth taking seriously the
difference between a phobic situation and a phobic object like
an insect. A phobic situation, broadly speaking, one can choose
to avoid, but a phobic object can turn up unexpectedly. One
might say, for example, that a person who imagines that his
hate could turn up at any moment, like an unwanted guest­
who has to live in a state of continual internal vigilance to
ensure that he will always be fair-might choose an object
rather than a situation. A situation phobia is a controlled temp­
tation. And clearly the availability of, the potential for access
to, the phobic object or situation is an essential factor, because
it signifies access-and a person's attitude to this proximity-to
otherwise repressed states of mind or versions of oneself.
A sixteen-year-old girl was referred to me for provocative
behavior in school. She would do absurd things to enrage her
teachers like sitting in lessons with a shoe on her head, but as
though this was quite normal. She was popular with her peers,
who seemed to view her with a rather wary admiration. As we
talked about this for several weeks-linking it to the life she
led in her family-I began to suggest to her in bits and pieces
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-
2
0-
that being provocative was one of her ways of getting to know
people; that in order to find out whether she could like people
she had to find the hate in them. She was playing, as it were,
hunt the monster to discover what the worst version of the
other person was that she was going to have to comply with.
As I repeated this in different ways I noticed that occasionally
she became curious; and at the point at which her curiosity was
aroused she would say, quite rightly, that none of this was
helping. After one rather tedious version of this interpretation
she mentioned that she was terrified of spiders; indeed, she often
had nightmares about them. I asked her if she hated me when
I bored her, and she grinned.
It began to occur to me that she could manage a self that
hated only if it was incarnated in someone else. By being pro­
vocative it was as though she was continually expelling this
version of herself, but also keeping it alive and close at hand
(she told me that even though spiders terrified her she never
killed them; partly, I think, because she needed to know that
her hate was alive and well, and also that to kill one might
confirm the murderous power of her hatred). Her references to
spiders were sporadic, and when I referred to them she told me
categorically that this was something she was not prepared to
talk about. I said that sometimes I might need to but that I
would always warn her so she could put her fingers in her ears.
She would then be able to regulate what she heard.
It was after establishing this ritual that I noticed that she
was becoming interested in her dreams; not, I should add, in
my attempted interpretations, but in the dream scenes them­
selves. As she said, "You go to bed and you never know what
you're going to see. " After what seemed like months of endlessly
reported dreams she arrived one day for a session to tell me that
she had had "the spider dream" again, and it was clear she
wanted something from me. I asked her if anything had hap­
pened recently that she had given in to and regretted having
done so. Her first reaction was to say that she was always giving
in to things; and it had been evident from talking to her that
she was very much a parental child whose parents were always
effectively saying to her, "You mustn't get cross, because we
First Hates
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need your help." But then she added-as though this was an
odd bit of the answer-that in school the previous day the
teacher had asked the class a question and she had answered it.
I wondered if secretly she had bitterly resented this, as though
answering the question felt like playing his game. She replied
that she had bitten her tongue at lunch. I said that I thought the
dream might be a protest and that in order to get really furious
she had to fnd a spider to let her do it. She said, "You mean
if I was a spider I could be really horrible. " I said, "Yes, spiders
are good to hate people with"; there was a pause and then she
said, " Say some more." I said that I thought that probably every
week she gave in to lots of things almost without noticing, and
that if she came across a spider she was suddenly reminded of
how cross she was and how much those feelings frightened her.
Sometimes, when she felt really insulted, as she had yesterday
with the teacher, she needed a spider so much that she had to
dream one up. She listened to this intently and then said, "So
a spider' s a bit like turning on a tap?" and I agreed.
Ignorance of myself is something I must work at; it is
something studied like a dead language.
Stanley Cavell, The Claim ofReason
A useful way to think about a symptom is to ask how you
could teach someone to have it (what would I need to do, or
who would I have to appear to be, to persuade someone that
open spaces are terrifying?) . For the phobic person the object
or the situation that inspires the terror is beyond skepticism; he
will behave as though he knows exactly what it is, however
absurd this may seem to himself or other people. All his skep­
ticism is kept for the interpreters. In a phobia a person explicitly
pretends to a private language, to a secretive exemption from
shared meanings. The phobia reveals virtually nothing about
the object except its supposed power to frighten; it bafes
inquiry. Just as, in actuality, there is no repetition, only a wish
for the idea of repetition as a way of familiarizing the present,
so, with the phobic object or situation, the person thinks that
he knows where he is. Better the devil you know than an angel
you don't.
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- 22 -
But it is, paradoxically, the very certainty of the phobic
person that robs him of his autonomy (of course Freud would
say that being a person robs him of his autonomy). Before the
phobic object he submits to something akin to possession, to
an experience without the mobility of perspectives. A phobia,
like virtually nothing else, shows the capacity of the body to
be gripped by occult meaning; it is like a state of somatic con­
viction. "The phobic object," Julia Kristeva writes in Powers of
Horror, "is precisely avoidance of choice, it tries as long as pos­
sible to maintain the subject far from decision"; 10 or from the
notion that this could be a matter for decision. It is as though
the object is issuing the orders, and the body responds even in
anticipation of its presence. As the victim of terror the subject
is as far as possible, in his own mind, from being the one who
terrorizes. But he is sustaining a relationship, even in his avoid­
ance, constituted by terror. "Such avoidances, " the psychoana­
lyst Roger Money-Kyrle remarked, "are superimposed upon
seekings. "
1 1
If a phobia has the effect of empowering and disempower­
ing a person at the same time-like a kind of quotidian sublime,
filling him with terror and rendering him helpless-it is also,
by the same token, a way of making ordinary places and things
extremely charged, like an unconscious estrangement tech­
nique. To be petrified by a pigeon is a way of making it new.
The phobia is eroticization not so much of danger as of signifi­
cance. The creation toward the end of the nineteenth century
of these new sexual objects-the familiar phobias became
"symptoms" in the 1 870s-the discovery that a panic akin to
sexual excitement was felt by certain people when confronted
with birds, rodents, insects, theaters, or open spaces, could be
used as evidence of the idea of an unconscious mind; or of
irrational selves inhabiting respectable selves, as in Jekyll and
Hyde (Stevenson's tale was published in 1 886). But those who
made category mistakes-pigeons, afer all, are not killers-had
to be categorized. The advantage of pathologizing-and, of
course, self-pathologizing-is that it appears to place the par­
ticipants in a structure of preexisting knowledge and authority.
First Hates
- 23
-
The very absurdity of phobias, often even to the people who
have them, could seem like a parody of the diagnostic process.
As symptoms, phobias provide a useful focus for what
Donald Davidson has described as "the underlying paradox of
irrationality"; "if we explain it too well, " he writes, "we turn
it into a concealed form of rationality; while if we assign inco­
herence too glibly, we merely compromise our ability to diag­
nose irrationality by withdrawing the background of rationality
needed to justify any diagnosis at all. " 12 One of the functions
of a phobia is to fix such distinctions, to take the paradox out
of them (phobia, ritualized as taboo, maintains a sensible uni­
verse). For the phobic person the phobia guarantees the differ­
ence-marks out a boundary-between the acceptably safe and
the dangerously forbidden and exciting; and for his double, the
interpreter, between the rational and the irrational (so one could
ask, for example, "What would I have to say about one of my
dislikes to make you think I was phobic of it, rather than just
very discriminating?" or "Are we phobic of all the things we
never do and all the places we never go, unconsciously phobic,
as it were?"). The catastrophe that the phobic and his interpreter
are both trying to avert is the collapse of their distinctions, the
loss, or rather the mixing, of their categories. Practicing the
martial arts of purity and danger, what can they do for each
other beyond providing mutual reassurance?
Symptoms are a way of thinking about difficult things,
thinking with the sound turned off, as it were. One of the
reasons, perhaps, that Freud was so intrigued by phobias-sev­
eral of the great case histories are analyses of phobias-was that
the making of a phobia was the model for the making of a
theory. A phobia, like a psychoanalytic theory, is a story about
where the wild things are. And these theories, like their phobic
paradigm, organize themselves around a fantasy of the impos­
sible, the unacceptable in its most extreme form. Because Freud
refused to assign incoherence too glibly-realizing that the
rational and the irrational have to double for each other-he
began to describe curiosity and knowledge, including, of
course, the knowledge that is psychoanalytic theory, as reactive
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
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24 -
to fear; an attempt to master the phobia-the frst recognition­
that by inaugurating consciousness depletes it. If terror is the
object of knowledge, knowledge is counterphobic.
In order to become what Freud thinks of as a person, one
has to become phobic; and one can become phobic only by
believing that there are an external and an internal world that
are discrete. "What is bad, what is alien to the ego and what is
external are, to begin with, identical, " Freud writes in "Nega­
tion, " his extraordinary paper of 1 925. For the ego to sustain
itself as good, which means in Freud's terms for the ego to
sustain itself, depends upon expelling everything experienced
as bad into the outside world. The assumption is that at the
very beginning unpleasure is soon intolerable and spells death
and that consciousness is of un pleasure. The "bad"-or Melanie
Klein would say the hate-is, pre-oedipally, the excess of desire
that threatens to destroy the ego and, slightly later, the object;
and oedipally, the forbidden incestuous desires. "In so far as the
objects which are presented to it are sources of pleasure, " Freud
writes in "Instincts and Their Vicissitudes" ( 191 5) , "the ego
takes them into itself, 'introjects' them . . . and, on the other
hand, it expels whatever within itself becomes a cause of unplea­
sure. " 13 The frst world we fnd outside is, in part, a repository
for the terror inside us, an elsewhere for those desires and
objects that bring unpleasure. And that world we make outside
is the world we need to get away from. It is the place, or one
of the places, where we put the objects and desires we wish did
not belong to us. To be at home in the world we need to keep
it inhospitable.
The ego needs a place elsewhere-which will be called
outside-and another place elsewhere that Freud will call "the
repressed unconscious, " which is inside. And this matches, of
course, the good/bad distinction (a different way of putting it
might be to say: there' s no such thing as an internal world-or
an external world; there are just collections of words that seem
to do justice to the complexity of what we feel). But in Freud' s
terms the ego, in this process of distributing the bad things, is
depleting itself in the hopeless task of keeping itself what Freud
First Hates
- 25 -
calls a "pure pleasure ego. " The developmental question, In
Freud's view-conceived of, or rather enacted, before the indi­
vidual could describe it like this-is, what is unbearable about
oneself and where is one going to put it? And the consequent
preoccupation becomes, once one has supposedly got rid of it,
how is one going to live in a state of such impoverishment, so
emptied of oneself ? The phobic object becomes the promise­
the (unconscious) gift returned, as it were-that has to be
refused. But the refusal, of course, is a way of keeping the
promIse.
If, as Freud believed, one is fundamentally unable-or ill­
equipped in childhood-to contain oneself, then it is part of the
developmental project to find a phobia, to localize the impossi­
ble in oneself elsewhere. But of course for Freud fantasies-and
the fantasy that makes a phobia-are forms of magical thinking;
in the phobic fantasy you convince a part of yourself that the
bad things are elsewhere only because there is really no else­
where (or the only real elsewhere is the place you cannot put
parts of yourself ). Finding hate-objects may be every bit as
essential as finding love-objects, but if one can tolerate some of
one's badness-meaning recognize it as yours-then one can
take some fear out of the world. In this psychoanalytic picture
the treatment is a method of retrieval; almost, one might say,
of the misplaced persons in oneself With this picture, though,
psychoanalysis can become unwittingly punitive, because each
person has a limit to what he can take (not to mention the fact
that there is a tyrannically omniscient fantasy at work here of
what constitutes a "whole" person). In Freud's view, the ego
depends upon its phobia. It is, so to speak, its first relationship,
and one that is inevitably paranoid (paranoia being, as it were,
a refusal to be left out).
The idea of the unconscious is, among other things, a way
of describing the fact that there are things we didn't know we
could say. A phobia is a conviction that bad things are unspeak­
able, and therefore that the unspeakable is always bad. And this
makes tacit understandings for the phobic person always dan­
gerous. If you articulate the terror for the phobic person he
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 26 -
may be persecuted by it again, and if you don't you collude
with the notion that there is something truly unbearable.
Phobias, that is to say, confront the psychoanalyst very
starkly, with the dilemma of cure. The art of psychoanalysis,
for both the participants, is to produce interesting redescrip­
tions: redescriptions that the patient is free-can bear-to be
interested in. Or to put it another way: the aim of psycho­
analysis is not to cure people but to show them that there is
nothing wrong with them.
3 -
On Risk and Solitude
What sort of space is that which separates a man from
his fellows and makes him solitary? I have found that no
exertion of the legs can bring two minds much nearer
to one another. What do we want most to dwell near to?
Henry David Thoreau, Walden
An affinity for solitude is comparable only to one's affinity for
certain other people. And yet one's first experience of solitude,
like one's first experience of the other, is fraught with danger.
"In children, " Freud writes, "the frst phobias relating to situa­
tions are those of darkness and solitude. The former of these
often persists throughout life; both are involved when a child
feels the absence of some loved person who looks after it­
its mother, that is to say. " 1 The absence of the visible and
the absence of an object; and the risk, as in dreams, that inner­
most thoughts will come to light. For this reason, perhaps,
it is the phobia relating to solitude that for some people per­
sists throughout life. Freud's preference here, toward darkness
but away from solitude, reflects the fact that in his work, as
opposed to his life, there is, as it were, a repression of solitude,
of its theoretical elaboration. Although narcissism, the dream,
mourning, the death work all testify to Freud's conception of
the human subject as profoundly solitary, the index of the
Standard Edition, for example, contains only two references to
solitude. It is as though solitude itself, like the holding environ­
ment of early infancy, is taken for granted by Freud. It is
perhaps the only risk of childhood whose counterpart in adult
life he fails explicitly to consider.
Discussing other "situation phobias" in the Introductory Lec­
tures, Freud uses examples of various kinds of journey:
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 28 -
We know that there is more chance of an accident when
we are on a railway journey than when we stay at home­
the chance of a collision; we know, too, that a ship may
go down, in which case there is a possibility of being
drowned; but we don't think of these dangers, and travel
by rail and ship without anxiety. It cannot be disputed
that we should fall into the river if the bridge collapsed
at the moment we were crossing it; but that happens so
exceedingly seldom that it does not arise as a danger.
Solitude, too, has its dangers and in certain circumstances
we avoid it; but there is no question of our not being able
to tolerate it under any conditions even for a moment. 2
Solitude does not occur to us, perhaps, as being like a journey,
and journeys of the kind Freud mentions are usually spent in
the presence of other people. Freud is overinsistent that we can
tolerate solitude but silent about its dangers. From the logic of
his examples we could infer, but only in the most speculative
way, that the dangers of solitude were linked in his mind with
being dropped (the idea, in D. W. Winnicott' s sense, of being
dropped as an infant) . Freud, as we know, was made anxious
by traveling; and in the Introductory Lectures themselves he
associates journeys with death. "Dying, " he writes, in the Sec­
tion "Symbolism in Dreams, " "is replaced in dreams by depar­
ture, by a train journey. " Travelers, whether they acknowledge
it or not, are traveling toward death. "The dramatist is using
the same symbolic connection, " he writes, "when he speaks of
the after-life as 'the undiscovered country from whose bourne
no traveller returns. ' '' 3 The dream, after all, is the soliloquy of
the unconscious, and it is clearly not gratuitous that Freud, to
elucidate an element in the dream, uses here that most famous
witnessed solitude of Hamlet's soliloquy.
It is the infant waiting too long fqr his mother that is
traveling toward death because, unattended, he is in the solitary
confi nement of his body. Solitude is a journey, a potentially
fatal journey, for an infant in the absence of suffi cient maternal
care. But it is worth remembering that the infant in the dark,
the infant by himself, is not only waiting for the mother. Sleep,
On Risk and Solitude
"
29 -
for example, is not exclusively a state of anticipation. It is, of
course, difficult to conceive in psychoanalytic terms of an
absence that is not, in some way, anticipatory.
Through desire the child discovers his solitude, and
through solitude his desire. He depends upon a reliable but
ultimately elusive object that can appease but never finally
satisfy him. But from the very beginning, quite unwittingly,
he has involved an object. "The subject," Jacques Lacan writes,
"has never done anything other than demand, he could not have
survived otherwise; and we just follow on from there. " 4 We fol­
low on in a curious solitude c deux called the analytic situation.
And in that setting we find, again and again, that the patient is
faced with the risk of entrusting himself Indeed, one of the
aims of the analysis will be to reveal the full nature of the risk.
In the induced regression of analytic treatment the patient is
invited-to redescribe the "golden rule" -to hand over to the
analyst something that we refer to, after Winnicott, as a holding
function. In free association the patient takes the risk of not
knowing what he is going to say. The patient's most diffcult
task will be fully to allow himself his symptomatology.
The clamorously dependent infant with a suffciently atten­
tive mother ends up, so the normative story goes, as an adult
with a capacity for solitude, for whom withdrawal is an escape
not merely, or solely, from persecution, but toward a replenish­
ing privacy. But dependence, we assume, does not simply dis­
appear; somewhere, we think, there is an object, or the shadow
of an object. So, in states of solitude what does the adult depend
upon? To what does he risk entrusting himself ?
The risks involved in traveling that Freud described could
be tolerated, he suggested, because they were, in actual terms,
minimal. But in the case of more serious kinds of risk-those
which are not exclusively counterphobic-of which solitude
can be one, the individual is attempting to find, often uncon­
sciously, that which is beyond his omnipotent control but not,
by virtue of being so, persecutory. (A good example of this is
Francis Bacon describing the point at which he needs to throw
paint at his pictures as part of the process of composition. ) I am
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 30 -
referring here not to compulsive risk-taking, which js always
constituted by a fantasy of what has already been lost-only
the impossible, as we know, is addictive-but to the ordinary
risks of adolescence that extend into adult life. A sixteen-year­
old boy, for example, in his own words a "loner" and a "risk
merchant," tells me in a session about the moment, at age ten,
when he eventually learned to swim after having been terrifed
of water: "I knew I was safer out of my depth because even
though I couldn't stand, there was more water to hold me up. "
One of the central paradoxes for the adolescent is his discovery
that only the object beyond his control can be found to be
reliable. For the boy the risk of learning to swim was the risk
of discovering that he, or rather his body, would float. The
heart of swimming is that you can foat. Standing within his
depth, apparently in control, was the omnipotence born of
anxiety; the opposite of omnipotence here was not impotence,
as he had feared, but his being able to entrust himself to the
water. The defense of vigilant self-holding precluded his being
able to swim. He needed "a generous kind of negligence" with
himself.5 It is possible to be too concerned about oneself.
This developmental process can be usefully understood
in terms of epistemology, although of course it could hardly
be experienced in these terms. Iris Murdoch, in her book on
Sartre, compares him to his detriment with Adorno, whom she
describes as picturing " 'knowledge as an attentive, truthful,
patience with the contingent, where the latter is not a hostile
Other to be overcome, but more like an ordinary world-round­
about-us. ' Approaching knowledge of the object is the act in
which the subject rends the veil it is weaving around the object.
It can do this only where, fearlessly passive, it entrusts itself to
its own experience. " 6 In developmental terms the "hostile
Other" can represent the failure of the holding environment.
My patient could swim once the water was like an ordinary
world-round-about-him, when he could be "fearlessly passive"
out of his depth. And the adolescent, we might add along simi­
lar lines, in his florid resumption of sexuality is both weaving
and rending a veil around the new object, his pubescent body.
On Risk and Solitude
- 31 -
The infant depends on the mother and her care to prevent
him from being out of his depth; in adolescence, as we know,
this protection is both wished for and defied. Risks are taken
as part of the mastery of noncompliance. One way the adoles­
cent differentiates himself, discovers his capacity for solitude­
for a self-reliance that is not merely a triumph over his need for
the object-is by taking and making risks. He needs, uncon­
sciously, to endanger his body, to experiment with the rep­
resentations of it, and he does this out of the most primitive
form of solitude, isolation. As Winnicott has written,
The adolescent is essentially an isolate. It is from a posi­
tion of isolation that he or she launches out into what
may result in relationships . . . The adolescent is repeat­
ing an essential phase of infancy, for the infant too is an
isolate, at least until he or she has been able to establish
the capacity for relating to objects that are outside mag­
ical control. The infant becomes able to recognise and to
welcome the existence of objects that are not part of the
infant, but this is an achievement. The adolescent repeats
this struggle. 7
The adolescent's body-and it is part of the adolescent project
to inhabit and be inhabited by the body-can be experienced
in its newfound sexuality as an object, and an object that is
manifestly outside magical control. For the adolescent, Win­
nicott writes, "relationships must frst be tried out on subjective
objects. " 8 He does not mention the sense in which the body­
and this sense comes to consciousness at puberty-is by defini­
tion both a subjective object and an object objectively perceived.
To the adolescent it is, like the analyst in the transference, the
most familiar stranger. In puberty the adolescent develops what
can be accurately referred to as a transference to his own body;
what crystallize in adolescence, what return partly as enactment
through risk, are doubts about the mother and the holding
environment of infancy. These doubts are transferred on to the
body, turned against it, as it begins to represent a new kind of
internal environment, a more solitary one. That is to say, the
adolescent begins to realize that the original mother is his body.
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 32 -
It is not that the adolescent IS attempting to "own his
body" -that absurd commodity of ego-psychology-as part of
his separation from the mother, nor is he simply taking over
her caregiving aspects. He is testing the representations of the
body acquired through early experience. Is it a safe house? Is it
reliable? Does it have other allegiances? What does it promise,
and why does it refuse? These are the questions, and one can
imagine others, that the infant, if he could, might ask of the
mother, and that the adolescent re-presents as mood and enact­
ment. In the usual risks of adolescence-that stage of legitimate
criminality and illicit solitude-the adolescent survives danger
in a kind of virtual or "as if" absence of maternal care. And
this, of course, has implications for treatment, since in the
psychoanalytic literature an interest in risk-taking has usually
been related to pathology; as integral, for example, to the per­
versions. (We may wonder, conversely, what the absence of
risk signifies in a person's life. ) It may be, for example, that
some perversions are an albeit sexualized way of keeping alive
a risk-taking part of the self When the adolescent, like the
adult, is alone, he is alone in the presence of his own body, and
his own body becomes at this stage an acute preoccupation.
What kind of maternal and/or paternal object, or what other
kind of object, does his body represents to him, and how does
he fnd out? In the taking and making of bodily risks he begins
to constitute his own possibility for a benign solitude, reliably
alone in the presence of the body and its thoughts. The world
and his body can feel as dangerous to the adolescent, and not
only to the adolescent, as the risks he has failed to take with
them. His capacity for a beneficent solitude will depend on his
being able to entrust himself to his body as a sufficiently holding
environment. And he will transfer on to his own body, recreate
inside it, as it were, the holding environment of infancy in
considerable detail.
A point comes in the treatment, Freud once said, when the
patient must be encouraged to do the thing he most fears. It is
this that the adolescent knows and refuses to know, and that
his analyst finds more than a little difficult to deal with.
On Risk and Solitude
I paid the price of solitude
But at least I'm out of debt.
Bob Dylan, "Dirge"
- 33 -
Adolescence, as we know, recapitulates something of infancy
but in dramatically modified form. From adolescence onward
the link between risk and solitude becomes a vivid and traumatic
issue. But the pressing question of risk is clearly bound up with
something that certain psychoanalysts after Freud have seen as
central to early development: a capacity for concern. We create
risk when we endanger something we value, whenever we test
the relationship between thrills and virtues. So to understand,
or make conscious, what constitutes a risk for us-our own
personal repertoire of risks-is an important clue about what it
is that we do value; and it also enjoins us to consider the plea­
sures of carelessness. It is a paradox of some interest that
although psychoanalysis was, from the very beginning, about
the relationship between justice and love, there is no explicit or
coercive description in Freud's work of what constitutes a good
life; and this is one of the many things that distinguishes him
from his critics and followers. It is, however, part of our tradi­
tional morality to assume-and this is reflected in Kleinian
theory-that concern for other people is integral to a good life.
It is therefore another interesting paradox in the development
of psychoanalysis to note how much, for Winnicott, develop­
ment depended on the capacity to relinquish or suspend concern
for the object. Indeed, where else can we go in psychoanalytic
theory for descriptions of a benign disregard of objects that
extends into adult life? I am not saying that Winnicott, in his
writing, did not mention concern; indeed, one of the few
developmental stages he dared name was a Stage of Concern.
Nor am I saying that I think Winnicott was a proto-Nietz­
schean-although I do believe he has a truly frightening and
exhilarating theory of development. But I am saying that Win­
nicott's writing, by virtue of being writing, is, like Freud's,
riven with crosscurrents and packed with contradiction. And
one of the insistent themes in his writing, though it is usually
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 34 -
understated and always qualifed, is that concern for an object
is easily a compliant act and always potentially an obstacle to
passionate intimacy and personal development. And this has
interesting implications for the relationship that increasingly
preoccupied Winnicott as he got older: the relationship one has
with oneself. We could wonder, for example, what we are
starving ourselves of by being too concerned about ourselves.
The first unwitting risk of infancy is the infant's being
entrusted to the mother's care. Optimally the mother adapts
collaboratively to the infant's needs, to create what Winnicott
calls a state of illusion:
the baby has instinctual urges and predatory ideas. The
mother has a breast and the power to produce milk, and
the idea that she would like to be attacked by a hungry
baby. These two phenomena do not come into relation
with each other till the mother and child live an experi­
ence together. I think of the process as if two lines came
from opposite directions, liable to come near each other.
If they overlap there is a moment of illusion-a bit of
experience which the infant can take as either his halluci­
nation or a thing belonging to external reality. 9
It is a moment of illusion because, in a good feed, from the
infant's point of view, he has created out of desire what he has,
in fact, found. The mother, for the infant, is of course not what
we would think of as a real person. As Stephen Mitchell puts
it, "the infant is almost oblivious to the mother as a person; she
'brings the world' to the infant and is the invisible agent of his
needs. " 10 If she insists on being a real person, then the infant or
young child has to invent a false self to deal with her. What
Winnicott calls the False Self is invented to manage a prematurely
important object. The False Self enacts a kind of dissociated
regard or recognition of the object; the object is taken seriously,
is shown concern, but not by a person. Pathology, in Winni­
cott's terms, is the result of the object's demand-or assumed
demand-for concern. At the very beginning, from Winnicott's
point of view, concern is always spurious. So how does the
infant get to feel "genuine concern," whatever that might mean?
On Risk and Solitude
- 35 -
Winnicott posits a "primitive ruthlessness" to characterize
the infant's desire; this ruthlessness for Winnicott is not
sadism-does not include a sexual pleasure in hurting-but is
simply the way the infant, if he is enabled, carelessly loves the
mother. But this story of the fluent passionate life quite soon
complicates into disillusionment. The infant, "naturally, " in
Winnicott's view, begins slowly to register the mother as sepa­
rate and begins to feel guilty. Thus, introducing his 1 957 paper
"Psychoanalysis and the Sense of Guilt," he says that he will
"attempt to study guilt feeling not as a thing to be inculcated
but as an aspect of the development of the individual . . . Those
who hold the view that morality needs to be inculcated teach
small children accordingly, and they forgo the pleasure of
watching morality develop naturally in their children, who are
thriving in a good setting that is provided in a personal and
individual way. "
1 1
In this apparently rather reassuring account the child's
innate morality, his own moral values, develop; unforced, the
child's original goodness, the rudimentary virtues of coopera­
tion and imaginative empathy, simply turn up. It is worth not­
ing, though, that in Winnicott's view development does not
happen in the service of morality; rather, morality happens in
the service of development. The child's own moral values, like
his symptomatology, work for him only insofar as they protect
his growth. That is to say, personal development necessitates a
certain moral opportunism. "Those who lack moral sense"­
which is different from a moral sense-"have lacked at the early
stages of their development the emotional and physical setting
which would have enabled the capacity for guilt sense to have
developed. " "Gradually," he writes, "a capacity for guilt sense
builds up in the individualin rel�to the mother, and this
is intimately related to the opportunity for reparation. " Win­
nicott offers a simple sequence, derived, he says, from Klein's
work, in which his own distinctive additions are character­
istically understated. From Klein, he claims in a rather disin­
genuous piece of redescription, he had understood that "the
primitive love impulse has an aggressive aim; being ruthless it
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 36 -
carries with it a variable quantity of destructive ideas unaffected
by concern. " He describes the innumerable repetitions spread
over a period of time, which he calls the "benign circle" -the
opposite, one assumes, of a vicious circle-and which consti­
tutes Klein's depressive position. 12 It's worth noting that a circle
takes you back to where you started from. Reparation could be
merely the unwillingness to tolerate the unknown consequences
of one's actions, a preemptive strike against the future.
The benign circle, which Winnicott will eventually rede­
scribe in the most unexpected way, follows this pattern. First,
there is the instinctual experience of a wholehearted feed; sec­
ond, acceptance of responsibility by the infant for the fantasized
ravages of his desire, which is referred to as guilt; third, there
is the working through of this regret and fear, which takes the
infant to the fourth stage of the "true restitutive gesture. " This
benign circle relies upon the mother, in a way that Klein her­
self never emphasized. It depends absolutely, according to
Winnicott, "on the mother's capacity to survive the instinctual
moment, and so to be there to receive and understand the true
reparative gesture. " It is assumed that there is regret built into
desire, because it is imagined by the infant as an act of robbery
and damage; and so it is crucial that the mother can respond to
the child's wish, in that telling phrase, to make up. Only if the
mother accepts reparation is the infant able, according to Win­
nicott, "to accept responsibility for the total fantasy of the full
instinctual impulse that was previously ruthless. Ruthlessness
gives way to ruth, unconcern to concern." 1 3
But Winnicott then refers, in a brief paragraph that con­
tradicts the rest of his paper, to a figure he calls the "creative
artist," who, in a way he doesn't explain, is apparently exempt
from the benign circle he has described, who has in fact dis­
pensed with this circle altogether. For this person reparation,
and the gratitude and sense of indebtedness it implies, is irrele­
vant, simply the creation of an obstacle. Characterized by his
ruthlessness, the artist' s particular kind of socialization "ob­
viates the need for guilt feeling and the associated reparative
and restitutive activity that forms the basis of ordinary construc-
On Risk and Solitude
37 -
tive work. " Obviate is an interesting word here, meaning as it
does "to meet on the way, to prevent or dispose of in advance,
to forestall. " 14 The artist's life then, which "obviates the need
for guilt feeling," is one in which he has noticed guilt but has
found ways of preempting it. He has refused to feel guilty, or
rather, to feel hampered by it. Winnicott concludes his eleven­
and-a-half-line section "The Creative Artist" in an appropriately
tantalizing way: "Ordinary guilt-ridden people find this bewil­
dering yet they have a sneaking regard for ruthlessness that does
in fact, in such circumstances, achieve more than guilt-driven
labour. " 15 In terms of the rhetoric of his statement, I think it is
fair to say that most of us would rather think of ourselves as
creative artists than as endlessly involved in what Winnicott
calls, in an implicit critique of Klein's entire work, "guilt-driven
labour" (wherever suffering is moralized, as it is in Klein's
Depressive Position, it is always idealized). If the psychoanalyst,
for example, was this kind of creative artist, rather than compul­
sively reparative, what would his work be like?
In this quite sudden and surprising interruption of his text
Winnicott is suggesting an alternative to the depressive position.
Having already redescribed Klein's apparently fundamental
concept in which the infant begins to recognize that the object
that he destroys in fantasy is the object that he loves, that he
suffers an intense and formative anguish over this that can be
allayed only by his reparative gestures, Winnicott then presents
us with what we must call, for the sake of discussion, the cre­
ative artist, who, Winnicott says, "may in fact fail to under­
stand, or even may despise the feelings of concern that motivate
a less creative person. " 16 What are we to make of this? We know
that Winnicott shares the post-Romantic idealization of the artist
as exemplary man; as the most real person, authentic by virtue
of his noncompliance. But Winnicott is using the fgure of the
artist here to allow himself, in a psychoanalytic setting, his own
original and disturbing version of development. Interestingly,
this paper was delivered as one of six public lectures at the
Institute of Psycho-Analysis in London to celebrate the cente­
nary of Freud's birth the same year that Klein's seminal essay
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 38 -
"Envy and Gratitude" was published. The paper signifes the
deferred birth of Winnicott's distinctive developmental theory.
The first risk of development, recreated in the analytic set­
ting, involves the infant and child's entrusting himself to the
mother's holding environment. But the object, the mother,
becomes real-changes, in Winnicott's language, from a subjec­
tive object to an object more objectively perceived-only
through being destroyed in fantasy and yet being seen to survive
the hatred. It is, as it were, people's resilience that makes them
real for us. "It is the destruction of the object that places the
object outside of the area of the subject's omnipotent control.
In these ways the object develops its own autonomy and life
and, if it survives, contributes in to the subject, according to
its own properties. " 1 7
If the object can survive the full blast of the subject's hatred,
then the person can conceive of the object as beyond his power
and therefore as fully real; that is to say, not reconstituted by
the subject's reparation but constituted by its own survival. But
this process as Winnicott describes it involves a curious paradox:
only by suspending concern for the object is the object estab­
lished as real; only by not caring for the object-hating it
wholeheartedly-can we get to know it (as a subject). By
diminishing one's regard for the object-ceasing to overprotect
the object from oneself-real contact is made. Two solitudes
are established. But the claiming of one's solitude, which is
inextricable from this battle, is a ruthless act. Winnicott sees
development as involving increasingly sophisticated forms of
disregard for the object, but to make possible real contact with
a real object. So the second developmental risk, in this overly
schematic account, entails relinguishing concern for the object.
Only through our development of the capacity to treat people
as objects can they become real for us. And this provides us
with another way of looking at perversions, a subject about
which, signifcantly, Winnicott has little explicitly to say. It is
as though, in perverse sadomasochistic contracts, the process
Winnicott describes is short-circuited. Hatred of and disregard
for the object are aided and abetted by the object's collusive
On Risk and Solitude
- 39 -
agreement. That is to say, the object does not survive-robustly
refuse to be dominated-but capitulates, agrees to be destroyed
or damaged. So what is described in the psychoanalytic litera­
ture as a perverse contract-the master and slave confguration
of sadomasochism-is a self-thwarting attempt to undo a sym­
biotic bond. An obstacle is created by the sadomasochistic
couple at the point at which they might, in Winnicott's lan­
guage, move over from being subjective objects for each other
to being real, beyond each other's omnipotent control. It is the
solitude of being separate that they cannot risk. There is also,
one should remember, a terror of the absence of dependence.
Development itself, which Winnicott in his later work
regarded as an intrinsically creative process, was bound up for
him with a capacity for ruthlessness. There was the primary
ruthless desire of infancy-an elemental state of mind-that
had, to some degree, to be carried forward into adult life.
And creativity-what Winnicott later called creative living­
involved the search for, and attempt to establish, a medium, an
environment, a relationship that could survive the person's most
passionate destructiveness. The risk in destructiveness is that it
may not be withstood; the risk of establishing one's solitude is
the risk of one's potential freedom.
Clearly, the need to make reparation binds one to objects.
So where does Winnicott's enigmatic creative artist ft into this,
who has dispensed with reparation and who, in Winnicott's
own words, "may despise feelings of concern that motivate a
less creative person"? We cannot ignore the equation here of
concern with diminished creativity. "Of the artist, " Winnicott
writes in his curious celebration, "it may be said that some
have no capacity for guilt. " 18 And far from suggesting that there
is anything wrong with such a person, Winnicott is quite clear
that for him this fgure of the artist, some of whose charac­
teristics are usually associated in psychoanalysis with perver­
sion, or even psychopathy, is a kind of ego-ideal. The fgure
Winnicott calls the creative artist is certainly determined not to
be thwarted by concern for other people. Indeed, he or she may
be thought of as somebody with a certain kind of primary rela-
ON KISSI NG, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 40 -
tionship with himself. Perhaps the artist has the courage of his
perversions?
In my solitude
I have seen things very clearly
which are not true.
Antonio Machado, Twenty Proverbs
Writing to Countess de Solm-Laubach on August 3, 1 907, the
poet Rilke expressed in extreme form what may be, or could
be, a common experience: "except for two short interruptions,
I have not pronounced a single word for weeks; at last my
solitude has closed in and I am in my work like a pit in its fruit. "
The implication is that speaking-involvement with other
people-would have held off this nurturing solitude in which
his work could grow. He relinquishes an environment of exter­
nal objects and becomes the seed of himself
In states of absorption, in the solitude of concentration, the
other object that disappears is the body. The good-enough envi­
ronment of the body can be taken for granted; it is most reliably
present by virtue of its absence. It does not, as it does in states
of desire and illness, insist on its importance; in Maurice Blan­
chot's words, one "yields to the risk of the absence of time. " 19
A fertile solitude is a benign forgetting of the body that takes
care of itself; and in this context desire becomes a remembering.
In the dream, Freud tells us-that most solitary representa­
tion-the body must not be disturbed; we must not wake up
to it. A productive solitude, the solitude in which what could
never have been anticipated appears, is linked with a quality of
attention. The excessive proximity of the object, or of the body
as intrusive object, is always a preemptive presence. "That is
why I go into solitude, " Nietzsche wrote, "so as not to drink
out of everybody's cistern. When I am among the many I live
as the many do, and I do not think as I really think; after a time
it always seems as though they want to banish me from myself
and rob me of my soul. " 20 From the facilitating object to the
object as usurping presence: somewhere here the analyst finds
himself, placed in the patient's transference. But what of the
On Risk and Solitude
- 41 -
journey from dependence to the wish for solitude, a wish that
takes us beyond, or at least outside, the analytic situation?
Although the wish for solitude can be a denial of dependence,
a capacity for solitude may be its fullest acknowledgment.
For Winnicott the capacity to be alone depended upon the
earlier experience of the child alone in the presence of the
mother. He does not, of course, speak of the child alone in the
presence of his father, nor in detail of what Masud Khan has
called "the infant-in-care alone with himself. " 21 The precursor
of the capacity for solitude is the child in the reliable, unimping­
ing presence of the mother who would cover the risks. If the
mother is there, he can lose himself in a game; and optimally,
in Winnicott's work, mother is always there presiding over our
solitude. But the human subject in Freud-a desiring solitude­
lives between absence and conflict. Freud could not conceive,
in his own psychoanalytic terms, of a solitude that was consti­
tuted as a full presence rather than as a lack; and psychoanalysis,
of course, has an impoverished vocabulary for states of
plenitude that are not considered pathological. For Freud sol­
itude could be described only as an absence, for Winnicott only
as a presence. It is a significant measure of difference.
And still the question remains: to what do we risk entrust­
ing ourselves in solitude? Although God is no longer our per­
petual witness, we have our own available ghosts, our constitu­
tive psychoanalytic fictions-the unconscious, the good internal
object, the developmental process, the body and its destiny,
language. Perhaps in solitude we are, as we say, simply "on
our own. " Is it not, after all, the case that the patient comes
to analysis to reconstitute his solitude through the other, the
solitude that only he can know?
On Composure
43
-
as it has always been over issues of self-possession-the prob­
lem and the pleasure of pleasure. One could, for example, rede­
scribe some of the familiar psychoanalytic categories in terms
of the subject's conscious and unconscious attitudes to his or
her composure: the "pervert" firts with his composure; the
"hysteric" simulates its absence; the "obsessional" parodies it;
and so on. The idea of composure can be seen as integral to
Freud's fction of the ego. Just as the ego is the "seat of anxiety, "
so, by the same token, it is the seat of composure. The ego
composes the body in fantasy. So those most furtively absorb­
ing and exciting ideas, masturbation fantasies, can be seen as
stories or scenarios in which, through careful disguise, one
makes it safe to have an excited body; or rather, the spectacle
of an excited body. Desire is always staged, as it were, by the
ego.
For Freud stimulation was impingement, instinctual life
sustaining the organism and yet throwing it into disarray. As
he wrote in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, with characteristic mis­
giving, "Protection against stimuli is an almost more important
function for the living organism than reception of stimuli"; 1 as
though what is to be received is always potentially in excess.
Jean Laplanche has extended Freud's sense of the individual's
radical besiegement with his concept of "the attack of the drives
on the ego. " 2 The ego is appointed, in the Freudian story, some­
how to diminish the trauma of the body, but the body has no
time for the ego's rage for order. Composure becomes a pre­
emptive strike-a kind of machine inside the ghost-against
this fundamental disarray.
In the course of development, and apparently to differing
degrees, the body has to lose its overwhelming immediacy for
the child, to become the child's most paradoxical belonging.
Composure would begin as the way the child responds, at least
initially, to the intimated demand by the mother, in the face of
the child's desire for her, that the child alter the form of its self­
presentation. An original clamorousness becomes a calculated
social poise, a distinctive awkwardness that bears witness to the
child's struggle for acceptable forms of excitement, for ways in
which he can be seen to be a desiring subject without losing face.
ON KIS SING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 44 -
In Freudian terms composure would be a form, largely
unconscious, of vigilant self-control. But with his flair for the
ingenuous-a characteristic disregard for the special language
of psychoanalysis-Winnicott gives us a different way of con­
sidering the idea of composure. Where Freud sees the possibility
for mastery, Winnicott sees the possibility for surprise. Where
Freud is preoccupied with defensive forms of control, Winnicott
emphasizes something less virile, which he calls "holding. "
Holding describes the early maternal care that makes possible
the infant's psychosomatic integration; and holding implies
reciprocal accommodations, exactly what one observes in the
subtle process of someone's carrying or picking up a child.
In Winnicott's terms, composure can be seen as a deferral, a
kind of self-holding that keeps open the possibility of finding
an environment in which the composure itself could be relin­
quished. Composure would, by defnition, seek its own nega­
tion. It might, in other words, be part of a person's develop­
mental project to create or find an environment in which his
composure was of no use, and in which this fact was no longer
a problem (sadomasochism, one could say, is the endlessly
orchestrated disappointment of this wish).
In a remarkable early paper Winnicott implicitly addresses
the question, What use does one want to make of the idea of
mind?-an idea conspicuous by its absence in British writing
on Freud. In "The Mind and Its Relation to the Psyche-Soma"
( 1 949), Winnicott suggests, neglecting Freud's metapsychol­
ogy, that the individual uses what he calls "mental functioning"
in order to make up for failures of mothering. One mothers
oneself, or rather, foster-mothers one's self, with one's mind.
Ordinarily the mind is "no more than a special case of the
functioning of the psyche-soma . . . the imaginative elabora­
tion of somatic parts, feelings and functions, that is, of physical
aliveness. "3 It is an expression of the body-self through fantasy.
As he writes elsewhere, in normal development "the infant's
mind [is] able to account for and so to allow for failures of
adaptation. In this way the mind is allied to the mother and
takes over part of her function. " Bad mind, or what Winnicott
On Composure
45 -
would call the precocious mind, quickens in reaction to exces­
sive maternal unpredictability. "As a more common result of
the lesser degrees of tantalizing infant care in the earliest stages
we fnd mental functioning becoming a thing in itself, practi­
cally replacing the good mother and making her unnecessary. "4
The tantalized child turns away from the mother in a bewilder­
ment that he will organize into a diffuse resentment. Engen­
dered by a grudge, the precocious mind of the child stops him
from depending, or rather, enables him to simulate indepen­
dence. For the child, like the adult, there is always the anony­
mous company of thoughts. And there is always the mind as
the theater of revenge. In fact Winnicott seems to imply that
the fgure he calls "the intellectual" is always retaliating, always
backing a grudge.
There is, then, a familiar type of composure that creates
an appearance of self-possession, based on a kind of psycho­
somatic dissociation. The mind creates a distance in the self­
ofen in the form of an irony-from its own desire, from the
affective core of the self, and manages, by the same token, a
distance from everybody else. A sometimes compelling but
ambiguous aura, by communicating a relative absence of needi­
ness, renders the other dispensable. And this is done partly
through projection; at its most extreme, the neediness is evoked
in the other people around and then treated with sadistic dis­
may, as though it were an obnoxious stranger. Hell is not other
people but one's need for other people.
The precocious mind in its struggle for composure is sus­
tained by a militant fantasy of self-suffciency, in which desire
for the other is interpreted as concession to the other, a conces­
sion to possible misrecognition-misrecognition as appropria­
tion-that most primitive, that most essentially perplexing
form of power. In the child's early life the problem becomes
that although the mother has the capacity to recognize the need
of her infant, she exhibits a relative incapacity to do this in any
reliable way. For her own good reasons she too often puts her
desire in place of the infant's desire, and early states of excitement
and quiescence, instead of being met as such by the mother, go
ON KI S S I NG, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 46 -
unreciprocated or unacknowledged. An accumulation of such
misleading experiences prompts a precocious mental develop­
ment designed to make the child self-satisfying. This is what
Winnicott calls "the over-growth of the mental function re­
active to erratic mothering. " 5
"In the development of every individual, " Winnicott writes,
"the mind has a root . . . in the need of the individual, at the
core of the self, for a perfect environment. " Perct, of course,
is a word that psychoanalysis has ironized, though the pun on
root here leads us in different directions. What Winnicott means
here by "the perfect environment" is, I think, a state of virtual
mutuality of recognition and desire that would make possible
the child's and the parent's optimal development. But Winnicott
idealizes here the wish to be understood; because the other thing
that the child is always trying to reestablish in his own eyes­
and that always already exists-is his own opaqueness. Compo­
sure, like a dare, sustains and challenges the idea of accurate
recognition. (Winnicott's notion of the True Self instates the
possibility of accurate recognition by giving it a target; this is
the tautology that sustains the terms). So from Winnicott's
point of view, one function of the precocious mind is to main­
tain composure while protecting, in fantasy, the desiring self
that seeks such recognition. The desiring self is isolated by the
dread of being undermined by the misrecognition of the other.
The composure is organized to preclude the repetition of this
experience of traumatic, exploitative, seduction of the affective
core of the self, of the ordinary self that is deeply unenchanted
by the spurious forms of its own specialness.
The quest for the perfect environment through the self­
holding and self-hiding of composure, at its most excessive,
insulates the individual from ever allowing the recognition he
seeks. As Georg Groddeck, the great master of psychosomatic
caricature, once wrote, "There are strange courses in life, some
of which look like circles. " 6
- 5 -
Worrying and
Its Discontents
If I can think of it, it isn't what I want.
Randall Jarrell, "The Sick Child"
A boy of ten was referred to me because of his general despon­
dency at school. His teachers described him as having become,
in the last few months, "preoccupied and sad. " During an inter­
view his mother said that he seemed to have a lot of worries
but wouldn't always tell her what they were; sometimes he
determinedly kept them to himself She was genuinely be­
mused, and once alone with him I found something in this
boy's distracted manner that distracted me. Intending to say
"What are the worries?" I in fact said to him, "What are wor­
ries?" Quite naturally puzzled by the question, he thought for
a moment, then replied triumphantly, "Farts that don't work,"
and blushed. I said, "Yes, some farts are worth keeping. " He
grinned and said, "Treasure. "
For this boy worrying was a way of holding on to some­
thing, a form of storage. It transpired from our conversations
that worries were like gifts he kept for his mother, and he was
fearful of running out of them. What better gift to give to one's
mother-especially if she was unsure of herself-than a worry
she could resolve and so feel fully empowered as a good mother?
He told me that he frequently dreamed of "rooms full of the
heads of big game on the walls," and it was clear from his
associations that he had conceived a scenario in which one day
he would give his mother his complete collection of trophies,
all his best worries. With remarkable economy he was using
worries both to look after his mother-giving her something,
ON KISSING, TICK LING, AND BEING BORED
- 48 -
one day, to make her feel better-and to seduce the oedipal
mother of desire with irresistible invitations that were proof of
his potency. He was, in short, as we both soon realized, very
worried about losing his worries. If he did, he might have to
use another part of his body-alluded to by the heads in the
dream and how they got on the wall-to engage an object.
From a psychoanalytic perspective it is the patient's need for
the symptom, despite his paradoxical invitation to the analyst
to help rid him of it, that radically revises any conventional
notions of cure. After all, what would he be thinking about if
he wasn't worrying?
The description of worries as "farts that don't work" raises,
by implication, the question of what kind of work it is imagined
that farts are supposed to be doing. (It's worth noting that one
of this boy's manifest symptoms was an inability to work. ) If,
in this boy's view, worries are farts that don't work, what is
the equivalent in mental life of farts that do work? Farts are
often intimations of things to come, hints or bulletins from an
internal somatic process that can be beyond omnipotent control,
and in most contexts they are socially inappropriate reminders
of this process. So a fart that doesn't work is a portent of
nothing; it does not disclose a necessary process under way.
And it isn't disruptive; it produces no change in the surrounding
atmosphere. It is a thwarted internal experience rather than an
exchange between inner and outer. If we take the kind of biolog­
ical analogy familiar in Kleinian theory from Wilfred Bion's
work, we can say that thinking something through can be
described as metabolizing or digesting emotional experience. t
For this boy, then, worrying could be a form of emotional con­
stipation, an unproductive mental process that got him nowhere;
and this was part of its value to him. Like all symptoms, from
a psychoanalytic point of view, it was among other things an
attempt to arrest the passing of time. Auden reported a well­
known Icelandic proverb, "Every man loves the smell of his
own farts. " Not everyone, though, loves the smell of his own
thoughts, perhaps because they reek of change.
To approach the ordinary subject of worrying, it is useful,
Woring and Its Discontents
- 49 -
from a developmental point of view, to remember that we are
"worried about" before we begin to worry. Being worried
about is both one of the oppressions and one of the reassurances
of childhood. Potentially a threat, ''I'm worried about you"
continues into adult life as an accusation and a claim. But it is
a crucial constituent of the infant's and child's life to be able to
evoke concern and interest, to have another person available to
worry about him. What we think of in psychoanalysis as a
symptom is often in children a way of making someone worry
and therefore of making someone think. Winnicott writes, for
example, of the "nuisance-value" of the symptom. 2 The parent's
worry can signify a hidden preoccupation in the child, a loss of
contact through a breakdown of understanding and an excess
of pain. In adolescence we see a different stage of this in the use
of what can be called symptoms-but are often bemusing forms
of privacy-to get out of the parents' orbit even while maintain­
ing sufficient contact with it. Parents keep the necessary link
alive through worrying. It is curious, in this light, that worry­
ing tends almost always to be talked of pejoratively. It may be
part of our terror of dependency that we never hear anyone
described as a good worrier.
We were once, even if we are not now, the object of some­
one else's worry. And, clearly, the way one was worried
about-the quality of the worry we received-will to some
extent be reflected in the way one worries about oneself In
object-relations theory, worrying can cover the whole spec­
trum from ordinary self-care to a thwarted conversation with
an unlocatable object. How one uses other people in the process
of worrying-to whom one tells what, and when, or whether
one keeps one's worries to oneself-will be a repetition, with
variations, of earlier relationships or transactions with objects.
In other words, what worries are used for-what kind of
medium of exchange or currency they become in one's relation­
ship with other people and oneself-may be as revealing as
what prompts them. (The question may not be "What are you
worried about?" but "Whom is this worry for?") What one
fnds preying on one's mind, or rather, what worries are made
ON KI S S ING, TICKL ING, AND BEI NG BORED
-
50 -
of, may be related to what and for whom they are made. It is,
of course, easy to forget that worries are imaginative creations,
small epics of personal failure and anticipated catastrophe. They
are, that is to say, made up. And like inverted masturbation
fantasies, they are among our most intimate inventions. It is
almost as though we recognize ourselves too well, are perhaps
overly familiar with ourselves, as worriers. Indeed, one's own
personal history of worrying-the subjects chosen, their mod­
ifcation over time, the people involved, the relative pain and
pleasure of the experience-all this would seem to be a poten­
tially lucid revelation of character. But Freud, of course, made
us unusually suspicious of the foreground; and worries, when
they are there, crowd to the front of the stage.
Don't worry; it may never happen.
Traditional saying
We can be both the subjects and the objects of our own worries.
Worrying, like being concerned, preoccupied, or absorbed­
but unlike dreaming, thinking, or feeling-can be done to us,
according to ordinary usage. I can say, "It worries me" and also
"I am worried about something. " I can say "I dreamed about
something" -although this, as we shall see, is different-but
not as perhaps I should, "It dreams me. " So in relation to my
worries I can be-in the language of a traditional mystifica­
tion-both active and passive. I can be their victim and I can
try to master them. Worries, unlike dreams, thoughts, and feel­
ings, are something to which we give agency. We can, with
the irony that characterizes the defenses, allow them to be
beyond omnipotent control, whereas for dreams we claim
authorship. We can be worried, but we can't be dreamed.
The history of the word worrying is itself revealing. Deriv­
ing from the Old English wyrgan, meaning to kill by strangula­
tion, it was originally a hunting term, describing what dogs did
to their prey as they caught it. The Oxfrd English Dictionary
has, among several meanings from the fourteenth to the early
nineteenth century: "To swallow greedily or to devour . . . to
Worrying and Its Discontents
¯
51 -
choke a person or animal with a mouthful of food . to seize
by the throat with the teeth and tear or lacerate; to kill or injure
by biting or shaking. Said, e. g. , of dogs or wolves attacking
sheep, or of hounds when they seize their prey. " Johnson's
Dictionary of 1 755 has for worry: "To tear or mangle as a beast
tears it prey. To harass or persecute brutally." A worrier for
Johnson is someone who persecutes others, "one who worries
or torments them. " Two things are immediately striking in all
of this. First there is the original violence of the term, the way
it signifies the vicious but successful outcome of pursuing an
object of desire. This sense of brutal foreplay is picked up in
Dryden's wonderful lines in All fr Love: "And then he grew
familiar with her hand / Squeezed it, and worry'd it with raven­
ous kisses. " Worrying, then, is devouring, a peculiarly intense,
ravenous form of eating. The second striking thing is that wor­
rying, until the nineteenth century, is something one does to
somebody or something else. In other words, at a certain point
in history worrying became something that people could do
to themselves. Using, appropriately enough, an analogy from
hunting, worrying becomes a consuming, or rather self-con­
suming, passion. What was once thought of as animal becomes
human, indeed all too human. What was once done by the
mouths of the rapacious, the desirous, is now done, often with
a relentless weariness, by the minds of the troubled.
It is not until the early nineteenth century, a time of signifi­
cant social transformation, that we get the psychological sense
of worrying as something that goes on inside someone, what
the O. E. D. calls "denoting a state of mind, " giving as illustra­
tion a quotation from Hazlitt's Table Talk: "Small pains are
. . . more within our reach: we can fret and worry ourselves
about them. " Domestic agitation replaces any sense of quest in
Hazlitt's essay "On Great and Little Things. " By the 1 850s we
find many of Dickens' characters worrying or "worriting. "
Where once wild or not-so-wild animals had worried their prey,
we find Dickens' people worrying their lives away about love
and money and social status. From, perhaps, the middle of the
nineteenth century people began to prey on themselves in a new
ON KISSING, TICK LING, AND BEING BORED
- 52 -
kind of way. Worry begins to catch on as a description of a
new state of mind. It is now impossible to imagine a life without
worry. In little more than a century worrying has become what
we call a fact of life, as integral to our lives, as apparently
ahistorical, as any of our most familiar feelings. So in Philip
Roth's recent fictional autobiography, The Facts, it is surprising
to find the word made interesting again in the narrator's descrip­
tion of his hard-working Jewish father: "Despite a raw emo­
tional nature that makes him prey to intractable worry, his life
has been distinguished by the power of resurgence. " The pun
on prey suggests the devotion of that generation of American
Jew to a new God. But the narrator also implies that his father's
nature and history make him subject to his own persecution in
the form of relentless worrying, and also that something about
his life is refected in the quality of his worry, its intractability,
its obstinate persistence. A new kind of heroic resilience is
required to deal with the worries of everyday life.
Even in this most cursory bit of philology we find worry
as pursuit and persecution, two things that in psychoanalysis
tend to be associated with desire. But worrying, as the word is
used now, is manifestly countererotic; no one says "I had a
really erotic worry last night, " or indeed thinks of himself wor­
rying his loved one's hands with kisses. In A. S. Byatt's novel
Still Lif one of the heroines is propositioned on a French train
by a Frenchman, who offers her a "taste of Cointreau, Grand
Marnier, Chartreuse" in his sleeping compartment. "Frederica
replied brightly that that would be very agreeable. This was
despite a strong sense that the man was unduly anxious about
the outcome of his overture: anxiety is a great destroyer of
response, and Frederica had no taste for being closed in a sleep­
ing compartment with a worried man." The strong sense here
is that worrying is a form of insulation, that in the excess of
worry something in the proposition, to the young heroine's
relief, is retracted. But Byatt alerts us to a distinction between
anxiety and worrying that she cannot make. As in the seduction,
something is implied and glossed over at the same time. The
Woring and Its Discontents
- 53 -
distinction we tend to make is that worry always has an object,
that worrying is beyond displacement, whereas one can feel
anxious without knowing what the anxiety is about.
Interestingly, anxious, which we may think of as a nine­
teenth-century medical term, is in its conventional psycho­
logical sense an older word than worrying. The O. E. D. offers a
seventeenth-century meaning of anxious as "troubled or uneasy
in mind about some uncertain event; being in painful or dis­
turbing suspense; concerned; solicitous. " Anxiety, of course,
immediately found a place in the language of psychoanalysis,
while worrying still has not. It has been subsumed by, or
implicitly included in, a broad range of psychoanalytic cate­
gories, from obsessionality to phobic terrors. And this despite
the rather obvious point that most adults who speak English
come for psychoanalytic treatment because, in their own words,
they are "worried about" something. The children I see clini­
cally are referred because someone, quite explicitly, is worried
about them. It is worth wondering, I think, given that psycho­
analysis is essentially a theory of censorship, why certain words
that come to mind for patients are excluded by psychoanalytic
theorist; or why there need be any disparity between the lan­
guage of analysts and patients. Depression, for example, has
been the subject of extensive psychoanalytic speculation, but
not sadness; mania has been accounted for theoretically, but
not the intense pleasure of erotic excitement. It is a fact that no
one worries in the Bible-the word does not occur-but it
seems peculiar that the word cannot be found in the index of
the Standard Edition of Freud's work.
I have a life without latent content.
Alexander Portnoy
In beginning to consider the worrying of everyday life as the
product of an extreme form of secondary revision-a worry,
that is to say, as a stifled, indeed an overprotected dream-it
may be useful to remember the possible implications of the
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
-
54
-
etymology of the word itself After all, even spurious etymol­
ogies were once a respectable source of psychoanalytic specula­
tion. When we worry, then, what are we trying to eat? What
is there to pursue or get rid of ? Ho' does one hunt for some­
thing in oneself-or, more otino�sly, prey on oneself-and
what would it mean to devour what one caught? We are familiar
with the notion of worrying away at a problem, like a dog
gnawing a bone, but is it absurd to suggest that we are doing
a kind of violence to ourselves when we worry? Worrying can,
for example, be an aggression, a critique turned against the self.
When we lie awake at night worrying, there may be a dream
we are trying not to have. Certainly people are more often
starved of dreams than of worries. And the ordinary worry that
projects a catastrophe into the future can easily be seen as the
equivalent in consciousness of what Freud called punishment
dreams, which "merely replace the forbidden wish-fulfilment
by the appropriate punishment for it: that is to say, they fulfil
the wish of the sense of guilt which is the reaction to the
repudiated impulse. " 3 Worries, then, can be punishments for
wishes, or wishes cast in persecutory form; in the familiar act
of worrying we may wish to avert the catastrophe and also to
precipitate it. Flirting with possibilities, we are both the hunter
and the hunted. There are, one could say elaborating Freud's
phrase, those wrecked by success, and those wrecked by antici­
pating failure; or rather, those apparently wrecked by the wish
to fail or the fear of success. Even if worrying is a covert critique
of the fantasies of success in the culture, it is clear that worrying
has an equivocal relationship with the wishing that in Freud's
view dominates mental life.
The unconscious, Freud writes, "consists of wishful im­
pulses. These instinctual impulses are co-ordinate with one
another . . . and are exempt from mutual contradiction . . .
There are in this system no negation, no doubt, no degrees of
certainty. " 4 Since worrying by definition implies conflict, we
must infer that the unconscious doesn't, so to speak, have any
worry in it. We have to imagine, according to Freud, that there
is a part of ourselves that has nothing to worry about, that is
Worying and Its Discontents
55
-
exempt from this most persistent form of self-doubt. Worrying,
like dreaming, is born of conflict, and therefore of censorship.
It involves the compromise of representation and derives from
instinctual wishes. But the dream-work that Freud described is
ingenious in its transformation of the forbidden into the
sufficiently acceptable. Compared with the dream, the worry
is almost pure, uncooked day-residue; indeed, it is addicted to
reality. There is apparently little condensation or displacement;
there seems to be no question of intelligibility, although there
is a noticeable intensity of feeling. Worrying, that is to say,
often has the appearance, the screen, that we associate with a
certain version of reality.
Compared with the extraordinary invention of the dream,
the ordinary worry seems drab. As remote as possible from the
forbidden, the worry, unlike the dream, is part of the routine,
the predictability of everyday life. A moment's thought will tell
us what, if anything, we have to worry about tomorrow. No
amount of thinking will tell us what we will dream tonight.
All of us may be surrealists in our dreams, but in our worries
we are incorrigibly bourgeois. It may be worth considering,
then, a glib Freudian paradox: that some of the most effcient
forms of censorship are those that render themselves invisible.
How would one begin, or bother, to think that a shopping list
or a telephone directory was a product of censorship? To worry
about one's health, or about one's children, about money, or
being late, or losing one's job, is not in any obvious sense
enigmatic or puzzling. And yet it may be one of the functions
of worrying to cramp and contain-to overorganize-more
imaginatively elaborate or even violent responses to such very
real predicaments. As a furtive protest, worrying is an attempt
at simplification. It can give a local habitation and a name to a
diversity of grievance and desire. A worry, one could say, is a
muted dream, an overprotection of the self. But one could feel
bafed, indeed radically misrecognized, if one's ordinary wor­
ries were interpreted as a Freudian analyst might interpret a
dream. There is no obvious reason, though, why our associa­
tions to any of the elements in a worry should not be revealing.
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 56 -
It may not be the dream that is the royal road to the uncon­
scious, but the style of interpretation it makes possible.
Nevertheless, from a psychoanalytic perspective, "What
did you dream about?" and "What are you worried about?" are
quite different kinds of questions. The answers to them confront
us with our assumptions about interpretation-both what is
subject to what we call interpretation and what, in the form of
interpretation, we might pertinently say. Clearly, the demand,
or invitation, in the answers to these questions are different.
And when we answer the question "What are you worried
about?" we, in a recognizable sense, mean what we say; we
have conviction about what we are referring to. But when I say
that I dreamed about a green cat last night, I am giving a true
report, yet we can assume that a process of substitution, of
symbolization, has been in play. We infer that work has been
done on the stuff of emotional life, that there is an overnight
history of transformation that opens into a vast unconscious
personal history, whereas worrying seems like a reaction to and
not a reworking of our experience. By binding us to the present
and the future it abolishes the past that is, so to speak, behind
this particular piece of worrying, that existed prior to its
appearance as a preoccupation. It seals time by encapsulating
a sequence. When we worry, we look forward but are not
tempted to look very far back. We are dutiful in the way Or­
pheus should have been.
Worrying implies a future, a way of looking forward to
things. It is a conscious conviction that a future exists, one in
which something terrible might happen, which is of course
ultimately true. So worrying is an iro�i�! (orm of hope. But
dreams are always set in the past, both in Freud's sense of their
being the disguised fulfillment of a repressed infantile wish and
in the more verifiable sense that you cannot, by defnition, ask
someone what he is dreaming because a, dream is always a retro­
spective report, never the so-called thing-in-itself. And always
the question "What did you dream?" in its most straightfor­
ward sense is notoriously difficult to answer. The dream, or
perhaps the dreaming subject, "fades, " as Lacan puts it, when
Worrying and Its Discontents
57
-
the dreamer awakens. The dreaming subject is even more elu­
sive-almost impossible to construct-than his or her product,
the dream. "Who is dreaming?" is clearly a less ludicrous ques­
tion than "Who is worrying?"
What people do to their dreams effortlessly-that is, forget
them-people have to try to do to their worries. To remember
a worry is as easy as to forget a dream. Worries are present and
tend to recur, and we are manifestly present in them. They
show a coherent subject in an intelligible, if unsettling, narra­
tive; they assume a pragmatic self bent on problem-solving, not
an incurably desiring subject in the disarray of not knowing
what he wants. We use worries to focus and are prone to use
them to simulate purpose Uust as when we are intimidated by
possibility). When people describe a known task-passing an
exam, paying a debt, being cured of an illness-they do not
seem to allude to an unlocatable lack or, more absurdly, a certain
death. As an integral part of a familiar internal environment,
these specific worries can be very reassuring because they
preempt what is in actuality an unknowable future. The worst
thing that could happen is more comforting than the unimagin­
able thing.
Worrying tacitly constitutes a self-or, at least, a nar­
rator-by assuming the existence of one; for how could there
be a worry without a worrier? It is, of course, diffcult to
imagine a dream without a dreamer, but also to know what the
dreamer looks like. A worrier has, so to speak, a familiar face;
the iconography of the dreaming self is nowhere to be found.
And it is exactly in this elusive area of inquiry that worrying
focuses a contemporary dilemma in psychoanalysis. In what
could, broadly speaking, be called object-relations theory, we
have potentially guaranteed subjects or selves in relation to
potentially knowable and facilitating objects in search of per­
sonal development through intimacy. A modernized Freudian,
on the other hand, can easily see the self as merely a function
of representation-where else is it except in its descriptions?­
in a world of comparably oblique objects. Here fantasies of
growth or purpose conceal the impossibility, the unexorcizable
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 58 -
lack, at the heart of being. Relationships, in this view, are neces­
sarily ironized, because although they are essential to survival,
the persistence of desire prefi gures defeat. Desire implies a lack
that no object can appease. Worrying, in this kind of arena,
looks silly. It seems to lack metaphysical ambition. But from
an object-relations point of view we could say that worrying
prepares the self, at best in collaboration with responsive others.
And we could also say that potentially, through refusing the
benefit of others, worrying impoverishes the self by attacking
the possibility of its imaginative modification. As a medium of
exchange, then, worrying regulates intimacy, and it is often an
appropriate response to ordinary demands that begin to feel
excessive. But from a modernized Freudian view, worrying­
as a reflex response to demand-never puts the self or the
objects of its interest into question, and that is precisely its
function in psychic life. It domesticates self-doubt.
If we adapt Wittgenstein's famous question "Is belief an
experience?" to the matter in hand and ask "Is worrying an
experience?" we are left more empty-handed than we may want
to be. 5 If we were anthropologists who had discovered a tribe
that engaged in a pervasive activity they called worrying, how
would we go about getting a sense of what they meant? I seem
to know when I' m worried-I recognize the signs-but this in
itself can preclude my finding out what I' m doing when I
worry. The tendentious comparison with dreaming reveals, I
think, how worrying sets limits to the kind of curiosity we can
have about it. We can think about thinking, but perhaps we
don't worry enough about worrying. If worrying is, say, a
defense against dreaming, if the worry is the contrived, con­
scious alternative to the dream, at the opposite end of some
imaginary spectrum, then there may also be something,
paradoxically, that they have in common. They both incorpo­
rate reality to defeat interpretation, and they do not always
succeed.
- 6 -
Returning the Dream:
In Memoriam Masud Khan
No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings.
William Blake, "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell"
Always, in the patient as in the analyst, there is a rep
e
rtoire of
fantasies of what, it is assumed, the object can do for the subject;
or what, in Winnicott's language, the object can eventually be
used for. But the fantasies-where the subject, of course, is
fuent in the work of wishing-are mostly unconscious. And
yet object-relations theory provides us with something we
could never find in Freud: a veritable catalogue of objects, a
series of texts that constitute a dramatis personae of facilitators
and saboteurs. Belief in the object-and here we must exclude
Klein-tends to displace Freud's doubts about the subject.
"Childhood love is boundless, " he writes in his elegy for desire,
"It demands exclusive possession, it is not content with less
than all. But it has a second characteristic: it has, in point of
fact, no aim and is incapable of obtaining complete satisfaction;
and principally for that reason it is doomed to end in disappoint­
ment. " 1 It is this notorious second characteristic that puts child­
hood love beyond the pleasure principle, beyond the repetition
compulsion and beyond the object.
For Freud, then, excess and aimlessness; and for Winnicott,
holding and the developmental process. There is, in Winnicott's
work, as in Khan' s, a promising sense of the object's poten­
tial. A latent teleology of the Self displaces an unavoidable divi­
sion in the subject. It is the quality of mothering, and not the
unconscious per se, that is the source of strangeness, that can
promote obstacles to intimacy. But in Winnicott' s work the
ON KI S S ING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 60
-
early intimacy of the mother and her infant is always there in
service of-cocooning, as it were-an essentially strange and
solitary True Self; strange by virtue of having no wish to be
known. "At the centre of each person, " he writes, "is an incom­
municado element and this is sacred and most worthy of preser­
vation. " 2 Interestingly, Winnicott uses an un-English word,
incommunicado, for his most sacred idea. But there is, as we
know, in Winnicott's work, a negative theology of the Self. In
the context of psychoanalysis as a hermeneutics it is diffcult
not to hear this "permanently noncommunicating" element,
like the fabled "silence of God, " as offering us a powerful mes­
sage; but of what and for whom, of course, it is impossible
to say. Winnicott makes this impossibility of knowing quite
clear. There is an excess here, not of childhood love, but of
silence: an always occulted aim, but not aimlessness. It is the
acknowledgment of what cannot be known, but only pro­
tected-"preserved, " as Winnicott puts it-that defnes nurture
for Winnicott. The aim of intimacy is to sponsor the solitary
unknowability of the True Self
It is only the impingement of the mother, in Winnicott's
view, that compels the infant and the child to use the various
strategies of self-estrangement that he calls the False Self. The
False Self manages the imposed illusion of the mother-or some­
times the analyst's theoretical preoccupations-those demands
that are extrinsic to development, while the True Self lives in
seclusion awaiting the good object. The object, in Winnicott as
in Khan, has a benign potential for noninterference. So in Khan's
case histories we fnd, whatever the symptomatology, a remark­
able phenomenological subtlety moving inevitably, it seems,
toward a reconstruction of a failure of the holding environment.
There is no sense, as there is in Freud, that the constitution of the
human subject entails a holding environment that is a failure; that
the world is never good enough for us. A feeling of being strange
in a malign sense, of being radically other to oneself, could be
symptomatic only of what Khan calls, a propos of Artaud, "the
sickness of the self-system. " 3 After all, what is the transitional
object if not the impossibility-or the refusal-of the Uncanny?
Returing the Dream
- 61 -
In its twilight, the British Empire produced a theory of
good-enough mothering as the antithesis, the guilty critique,
of what was always a bad-enough imperialism. Throughout
Khan's work there is a continual and passionate critique of
the overinterpretative analyst as maternal saboteur, as the one
who appropriates or colonizes the patient, demanding "exclu­
sive possession. " His return to Freud involved a certain reserve
about the analyst as interpreter. "I believe that today, once
again, " he writes, "we have to start, as Freud did in 1 895,
by giving a true phenomenological account of our clinical
encounter with our patients, without paralysing the ambiguities
of the therapeutic exchange by coercing them into the strait­
jacket of our metapsychological preconceptions. " 4 Much of
Khan's work seeks to clarify the nature of the demand in the
analyst' s interpretation. Each psychoanalytic theorist, as we
know, makes a new kind of demand on the patient. And it is
this which the patient will either have to manage or be able to
use. (It can, of course, be the very obscurity of the demand that
is mutative for the patient. )
So there is also, in Khan's work, by the same token, an
insistent preoccupation with, and attempt at, redescribing the
analytic situation based on Winnicott's model of the mother­
infant relationship. The analyst' s project becomes-and this
is one of Winnicott's distinctive contributions, elaborated by
Khan-the establishing of a reliable setting to facilitate and
sponsor an innate developmental process. Unobtrusively atten­
tive, the analyst is careful, in Khan's words, not to "initiate a
reactive as-if dialogue between the analyst and the patient, from
which the person of the patient can stay absent forever. " 5 But
if it is possible for a
p
erson to engage in a dialogue in which
he can stay absent for ever, there is also one place in which
he is always present, in his dreams. "For whom is the dream
dreamed?" is a quite different question from "For whom is the
dialogue spoken?" "The use of dreams in analysis, " Freud
wrote, "is something very remote from their original aim. " 6
One could not, presumably, say the same thing about the use
of language.
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 62 -
For Khan, unlike Winnicott, as a complement to the anal­
ogy of the analytic setting with the mother-infant relationship,
there is also-articulated in three papers that constitute a series
(1 962, 1 972, 1976) 7_a description of the analytic setting as
comparable, optimally, to the preconditions for dreaming.
"Freud intuitively recreated, " Khan writes, "a physical and psy­
chic ambience in the analytic setting which corresponds signifi­
cantly to that intrapsychic state in the dreamer which is condu­
cive to a ' good dream. 8 But how does an intrapsychic model
work for what is essentially an intersubjective experience, and
where does this place the analyst? What kind of sense can we
make of the so-called one-body relationship-of "the infant-in­
care alone with himself" -as a paradigm for the interpretative
practice that is psychoanalysis? It is, as we shall see, part of
Khan's intention to return the dream to the dreamer, to ensure
its fullness of meaning-its "eloquence, " in J. -B. Pontalis'
term9-through minimal translation.
For Freud, the problem posed by the object was that it
could only frustrate; for Khan, the problem posed by the object
is that it always demands.
One's real life is so often the life that one does not lead.
Oscar Wilde, L'Envoi to Rose-Leaf and Apple-Leaf
It is in relation to the dream that Khan begins to describe the
kind of object, or object-relation, that increasingly preoccupies
him (object-relations is, so to speak, novelistic in its continual
invention of new "characters") . And it is the inverse of this
particular object-relation that he finds in perversion; because in
perversion there is the refusal, the terror, of strangeness­
strangeness as signifying difference-in the subtle simulation
of intimacy. The pervert, in Khan's version, parodies-or
rather, attacks-solitary states of unknowing and imaginative
elaboration through compulsive action with an accomplice; and
this is done to mask psychic pain. The accomplice is, by defni­
tion, the antitype of this new kind of object, one of whose
functions is to hold psychic pain, but simply by acknowledging
it, and not to collude in its denial-one collusion being the
Returning the Dream
"
63 -
assumption that it is interpretable, that it can be made into into
something else. So another function of this new object in the
analytic situation is to set those limits to knowing that "provide
coverage for the patient' s self-experience in the clinical situa­
tion" IO-and by "coverage" here Khan means ego-sup port­
with the analyst functioning as what he calls an "auxiliary ego. "
The pervert, however-or rather, someone who uses at any
given moment a perverse solution-denies that there is anything
new to know. This can, of course, have its heuristic advantages,
since every denial makes possible another kind of acknowledg­
ment Uust as each insight is the product of a specific blindness) .
But there is, as Khan intimates, a complicated relationship
between what in psychoanalysis is called perversion and the
notion, so dear to the British School, of "not-knowing. " Indeed
one could describe the work of Winnicott, Khan, and Marion
Milner as the attempt to fi nd a viable alternative to perversion,
a new model for theory. Because perversions are always pre­
fgurings; or, to put it another way, we could say that we are
being perverse whenever we think we know beforehand exactly
what we desire. To know beforehand is to assume that other­
ness, whether it be a person, a medium, an environment, is
redundant; that it has nothing to offer us, that it brings
nothing-or just rage and disappointment-to the occasion.
For Khan, I think, the so-called pervert, in his apparent know­
ingness, was an implicit parody of a certain kind of analyst.
Derived from Winnicott's formative paper, "The Capacity
to Be Alone" (1 958)-in which, it should be noted, there is no
mention of the self and in which it is announced in silence, as
it were, that there is a constitutive difference between the notion
of presence and the idea of the self-this new object, in the
guise of the analyst, allows himself to be used by the patient in
a way that increasingly, for Khan, begins to define the analytic
encounter. The mother, in the scenario Winnicott describes in
his paper, does not correspond to an interpreter but is, as it
were, a presence available for comment, should it be required:
a "witness, " to use Khan's ambiguous term, holding the situa­
tion through her known potential for availability, not through
ON KIS SING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 64
-
her vigilance or intent curiosity. Only then can the infant be
alone in the presence of someone. Like a more relaxed version
of the censor in the dream-work, the mother's presence makes
possible the crystallization of the infant' s desire without rup­
ture-of sleep in the case of the dreamer, and of ego-function
in the case of the child. The mother cannot create desire, conjure
it into being; she can only provide the conditions in which it is
possible. She can allow what Winnicott calls, vis-a-vis the
spatula game, "the full course of an experience. " Desire, like
the dream, cannot be arranged, but (unlike the Proustian epiph­
any) the setting for its possibility can be provided. What can be
understood, what constitutes the object of knowledge-and this
is the paradox that Khan will present us with-are the precon­
ditions, the form, the setting, but not the product, not the
reported dream. As with the transitional object, there is a sense
in which it does not matter what the dream happens to be; what
is significant is that it has happened-that it could be dreamed­
and then how it is used. From "Dream Psychology and the
Evolution of the Psychoanalytic Situation" ( 1962) , through
"The Use and Abuse of Dream in Psychic Experience" (1 972) ,
to "Beyond the Dreaming Experience" (1 976) , we see a curious
process intimated in the repeated use of that extraordinary
English word-with, it should be added, a history that is always
occluded in its use in British psychoanalysis-experience. There
is, as we read Khan's writing on dreams, a gradual attenuation
of the idea of the dream as text, and therefore of the analyst's
role in relation to the dream as primarily interpretative; indeed,
a growing sense in Khan's work that to speak is always to be
spoken for.
The dream as text, and therefore as available for interpre­
tation, is replaced by the dream as experience, formative by
virtue of being unknowable. The dream becomes a virtual
synecdoche for the True Self of the patient, who is not an object
to be deciphered. Dreams become bulletins of the developmen­
tal process signifying the silent metabolism of the Self. It is only
when the developmental process is felt to go wrong that the idea
of a developmental process is useful. "We should no longer say, "
Returing the Dream
- 65 -
Vincent Descombes writes, vis-a-vis the problem of what he
calls "the escape of meaning" in hermeneutics, "I have under­
stood, but have I understood correctly or am I mistaken /
deceived? But rather, I have understood, but was it possible to
understand?" 11 What could be more pertinent to that tantalizing
hermeneutic object, the dream?
If the dream, as Freud showed, is the way we tell ourselves
secrets at night about our desire, it also represents the impene­
trable privacy of the Self "A person in his dreaming experi­
ence, " Khan writes, "can actualise aspects of the self that
perhaps never become overtly available to his introspection or
his dreams. " 12 The dreamer, we can say, is present in experience
but absent in knowledge. And it is the so-called dreaming
experience of the patient, like the waking ego of the patient,
from which the analyst is excluded. We may wonder, from a
different point of view, where this dreaming experience resides
if not in language. After all, representations are always outside.
Clearly, there cannot be a private language; but there can be a
sense, Khan implies, conveyed in language, of a person's irre­
ducible privacy. The dreaming experience comes to signify that
which is beyond description in the total vecu of the patient.
If, as Khan claims with his extravagant virtuosity, "The
dreaming subject is the entire subject , " 13 then pathology is
whatever in the person's history has sabotaged-and here we
find the use of reconstruction and therefore the use of the
analyst-the person's potential for dreaming experience. A per­
son has to be in the dream of himself before he can dream. The
analyst's aim is to facilitate and establish, through holding, the
dream-space in the patient where experience can unfold. As the
interpreter, he simply helps build the stage, as it were, for a
good dream. As interpreter of the dream-text itself, he is a
latecomer in the process that brings with it its own guarantee.
Freud, as Khan notes, had intimated something of this in his
cryptic remark, "those dreams best fulfil their function about
which one knows nothing after waking. " 1 4 It was the dream,
Freud said, not only the interpreted dream, that was the royal
road to the unconscious.
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 66 -
I am there from where no news even of myself reaches me.
Persian aphorism
In his frst paper on the subject of the dream, Khan makes it
clear that the capacity for the "good dream, " akin to the capacity
to use the analytic transference, depends ultimately on the
patient's experience in infancy of states of sufficient satisfaction.
Freud, he writes, "makes it quite explicit that wish-fulfilment
in dreams is only possible if the mnemic images of the previous
satisfaction of needs are available for cathexis, " 1 5 and he links
this with Winnicott's account of infant care. In "The Use and
Abuse of Dream in Psychic Experience, " there is an emerging
sense of the dream capacity as facilitated by environmental pro­
vision, and dream-space seen as the intrapsychic equivalent of
transitional space where a person "actualises certain types of
experiences. " 1 6 The dream-space contains, for the purpose of
personal elaboration, what might otherwise be acted out-or
rather, evacuated-in what Khan calls "social space. " But Khan
is careful to differentiate the experiences actualized in the dream­
space from the dream as "symbolic mental creation" (he will
conclude the final paper in the series by stating unequivocally,
"There is a dreaming experience to which the dream text holds
no clue") . 17 The analyst's interpretation does not so much trans­
late unconscious content as show the patient, with the help of
associations, what he has used the dream-space for.
Transitional phenomena-unlike the "impersonal object"
that Khan suggests the pervert "puts . . . between his desire and
his accomplice" and that alienates the pervert from himself and
the object of desirel8-are integral to the process of personaliza­
tion. The aim of any interpretation is to facilitate the personaliza­
tion of the dream. And the dream, like all transitional phenomena,
is conveying the patient to an unknowable destination. Like the
mother who plays in the transitional space-a space, Khan
insists, always vulnerable to preemptive intrusion-the analyst
is there to sustain the experience. A clinical preoccupation with
"how to let oneself be used, become the servant of a process" 19
implies that interpretation might become a sophisticated form
of interruption, the way the analyst insists on being important.
Returning the Dream
- 67 -
In "Beyond the Dreaming Experience" ( 1976) , which
should perhaps be titled "Beyond the Interpreting Experience, "
there is, as a consequence, a disillusionment with the very object
that Freud placed at the beginning of the psychoanalytic enter­
prise-the remembered dream or dream-text. It is not now
"the component parts of the dream-text, " . those parts Freud
encouraged us to dissect, but "the whole dream as an experien­
tial entity "that has become the focus of interest, because the
"dreaming experience, " in Khan's view, bears no necessary rela­
tion to the dream-text. "The dreaming experience, " he writes,
"is an entirety that actualises the self in an unknowable way . . .
dreaming itself is beyond interpretation. " 20 The statement, in
absolute terms, invites intuitive assent, but we may also want
to ask, how does he know? Or perhaps a more psychoanalytic
question, strictly speaking, would be, what is the wish that is
satisfied by believing this to be true?
This disillusionment with the dream-text-and, by impli­
cation, with the analyst as controller of the hermeneutic-sig­
nifies Khan's distrust of psychoanalysis as epistemology, as
a theater of the epistemophilic instinct that Klein was so im­
pressed by. For what is the developmental process if not a limit
set to-or a defiance of-the Other's claim to knowledge about
the Self, that elusiveness staged as an essence, but always incom­
municado? And whose version of self-knowledge, despite
psychoanalysis, does not sound glib? Khan's work, with its
generous skepticism, is an acknowledgment-necessarily iron­
ized in a secular culture-that we did not invent ourselves, that
we have only described ourselves.
Toward the end of his life Khan was increasingly preoc­
cupied by "a person's relation with himself" 21 -that is, the
process of personalization-and with the possible meaning of
Freud's most recondite concept of primary repression. He was
preoccupied, in other words, with that which was beyond the
object's knowledge, but not beyond the object's acknowledg­
ment.
"Maybe, " John Wisdom wrote, "we look for too simple a
likeness to what we dreamed. " 22 Maybe, Khan suggests, we do
not always need a likeness.
7 -
On Being Bored
Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
John Berryman, "Dream Song 14"
Children are not oracles, but they ask with persistent regularity
the great existential question, "What shall we do now?" Every
adult remembers, among many other things, the great ennui of
childhood, and every child's life is punctuated by spells of bore­
dom: that state of suspended anticipation in which things are
started and nothing begins, the mood of diffuse restlessness
which contains that most absurd and paradoxical wish, the wish
for a desire.
As psychoanalysis has brought to our attention the passion­
ate intensity of the child's internal world, it has tended to equate
signifcance with intensity and so has rarely found a place, in
theory, for all those less vehement, vaguer, often more subtle
feelings and moods that much of our lives consist of. It is part
ofWinnicott's contribution to have alerted us to the importance,
in childhood, of states of relative quiescence, of moods that
could never fgure, for example, in Melanie Klein's gothic melo­
drama of emotional development. Although there are several
references in the psychoanalytic literature to the project of the
boring patient, and fewer to the seemingly common adult fear
of being boring, very little has been written about the child' s
ordinary experience of being bored, a mood that by definition
seems to preclude elaborate description. As any child will tell
us, it's just having nothing to do. But moods, of course, are
points of view.
Clinically one comes across children unable to be bored,
and more often, children unable to be anything else. In any
discussion of waiting, at least in relation to the child, it makes
On Being Bored
- 69 -
sense to speak of boredom because the bored child is waiting,
unconsciously, for an experience of anticipation. In ordinary
states of boredom the child returns to the possibility of his own
desire. That boredom is actually a precarious process in which
the child is, as it were, both waiting for something and looking
for something, in which hope is being secretly negotiated; and
in this sense boredom is akin to free-foating attention. In the
mufed, sometimes irritable confusion of boredom the child is
reaching to a recurrent sense of emptiness out of which his real
desire can crystallize. But to begin with, of course, the child
needs the adult to hold, and hold to, the experience-that is,
to recognize it as such, rather than to sabotage it by distraction.
The child's boredom starts as a regular crisis in the child's
developing capacity to be alone in the presence of the mother.
In other words, the capacity to be bored can be a developmental
achievement for the child.
Experiencing a frustrating pause in his usually mobile
attention and absorption, the bored child quickly becomes
preoccupied by his lack of preoccupation. Not exactly waiting
for someone else, he is, as it were, waiting for himself Neither
hopeless nor expectant, neither intent nor resigned, the child is
in a dull helplessness of possibility and dismay. In simple terms
the child always has two concurrent, overlapping projects: the
project of self-sufficiency in which use of, and need for, the
other is interpreted, by the child, as a concession; and a project
of mutuality that owns up to a dependence. In the banal crisis
of boredom, the conflict between the two projects is once again
renewed. Is it not, indeed revealing, what the child's boredom
evokes in the adults? Heard as a demand, sometimes as an
accusation of failure or disappointment, it is rarely agreed to,
simply acknowledged. How often, in fact, the child' s boredom
is met by that most perplexing form of disapproval, the adult's
wish to distract him-as though the adults have decided that
the child's life must be, or be seen to be, endlessly interesting.
It is one of the most oppressive demands of adults that the child
should be interested, rather than take time to find what interests
him. Boredom is integral to the process of taking one's time.
ON KISSING, TI CKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 70 -
While the child's boredom is often recognized as an
incapacity, it is usually denied as an opportunity. A precociously
articulate eleven-year-old boy was referred to me because, in
his mother's words, he was "more miserable than he realized, "
and had no friends because of his "misleading self-presentation. "
For several weeks, while we got to know each other, he chatted
fluently in a quite happy, slightly dissociated way about his vast
array of interests and occupations. The only significant negative
transference occurred when he mentioned, in passing, that he
might sometimes be too busy to come and see me. He was
mostly in a state of what I can only describe as blank exuberance
about how full his life was. As he was terrified of his own
self-doubt, I asked him very few questions, and they were
always tactful. But at one point, more direct than I intended to
be, I asked him if he was ever bored. He was surprised by the
question and replied with a gloominess I hadn't seen before in
this relentlessly cheerful child, ''I'm not allowed to be bored. "
I asked him what would happen if he allowed himself to be
bored, and he paused for the frst time, I think, in the treatment,
and said, "I wouldn't know what I was looking forward to, "
and was, momentarily, quite panic-stricken by this thought.
This led us, over the next year, into a discussion of what in one
language would be called this boy's false self. Being good, in
terms of the maternal demand, was having lots of interests,
interests, that is, of a respectable, unembarrassing sort, nothing
that could make him feel awkward and strong. In the course of
the treatment he gradually developed in himself a new capacity,
the capacity to be bored. I once suggested to him that being
good was a way of stopping people knowing him, to which he
agreed but added, "When I ' m bored I don't know myself! "
If the bored child cannot suffi ciently hold the mood, or use
the adult as an unimpinging auxiliary ego, there is a premature
fight from uncertainty, the familiar orgy of promiscuous and
disappointing engagements that is also, as it were, a trial action
in action, a trying things out. At its worst there is what the
adult will come to know, from his repertoire of displacements,
as the simulation of his desire, which in the child often takes the
On Being Bored
- 71 -
form of a regressive fabrication of need. A boy of eight referred
for being "excessively greedy and always bored, " said to me in
the frst session, "If I eat everything I won't have to eat any­
more. " This could have meant several things, but for him it
meant then that if he could eat everything he would no longer
need to be hungry. One magical solution, of course, to the
problem of having been tantalized is to have no desire. For this
boy greed was, among other things, an attack on the desiring
part of the self, a wish to get to the end of his appetite and finish
with it once and for all. Part of the total fantasy of greed is
always the attempt to eat up one's own appetite. But for this
desolate child greed was a form of self-cure for a malign bore­
dom that continually placed him on the threshold of an empti­
ness, a lack, that he couldn't bear; an emptiness in which his
own idiosyncratic, unconscious desire lurked as a possibility.
When I asked him if he was ever lonely, he said that he was
"too bored to be lonely. "
Inability to tolerate empty space limits the amount of
space available.
w. R. Bion, Cogitations
The child is dependent not only on the mother, but also on his
desire. Both can be lost and refound. So perhaps boredom is
merely the mourning of everyday life? "It is really only because
we know so well how to explain it, " Freud wrote of mourning,
"that this attitude does not seem to us pathological. " But the
child's boredom is a mood that seems to negate the possibility
of explanation. It is itself unexplaining, inarticulate; certainly
not pathological but nevertheless somehow unacceptable. Some
of the things Freud says in Mourning and Melancholia about the
melancholic can easily be said of the bored child. "One feels
. . . a loss . . . has occurred, but one cannot see clearly what it
is that has been lost, and it is all the more reasonable to suppose
that the patient cannot consciously perceive what he has lost
either. " What the bored child experiences himself as losing is
"something to do" at the moment in which nothing is inviting.
ON KIS SING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED

- 72 -
"The inhibition of the melancholic seems puzzling to us, " Freud
writes, "because we cannot see what it is that is absorbing him
so entirely. " In a sense, the bored child is absorbed by his lack
of absorption, and yet he is also preparing for something of
which he is unaware, something that will eventually occasion
an easy transition or a mild surprise of interest. "In mourning
it is the world that has become poor and empty; in melancholia
it is the ego itself. " And in boredom, we might add, it is both.
The brief but intense boredoms of childhood are reactive to no
great loss, but are merely an interruption-after something and
before something else. Like all genuine transitional states, their
destination is unclear. Certainly when bored as an adult one
cannot, in Freud's words, "hide the weakness of one's own
nature. " 1 But what, we might ask, following Freud's approach
in this extraordinary paper, is the work which boredom per­
forms for the child?
Winnicott, who often refers to instinctual life as a "compli­
cation, " provides a way oflooking at boredom in his paper "The
Observation of Infants in a Set Situation" ( 1941 ) , particularly
with his notion of the period of hesitation, a state of precon­
scious surmise. In the set situation of Winnicott's consultation
he asks "the mother to sit opposite me with the angle of the
table coming between me and her, she sits down with the baby
on her knee. As a routine I place a right-angled shining tongue­
depressor at the edge of the table and I invite the mother to
place the child in such a way that, if the child should wish to
handle the spatula, it is possible. " This sets the scene for the
three stages of the infant' s behavior that are to become for
Winnicott a paradigm of the analytic process. The spatula, like
the "good" interpretation, and even the analyst himself, is that
which the patient is ready to use, that makes sense to him to
use; and the setting is one in which the child "only becomes
able to fi nd his desire again in so far as his testing of the envi­
ronment affords satisfactory results. " 2 The bored child is wait­
ing, without the conscious representation of an object, to find
his desire again. Once again he does not know what he is looking
forward to. This is Winnicott's description of part of the process:
On Being Bored
- 73 -
Stage 1 . The baby puts his hand to the spatula, but at
this moment discovers unexpectedly that the situation
must be given thought. He is in a fix. Either with his
hand resting on the spatula and his body quite still he
looks at me and his mother with big eyes, and watches
and waits, or, in certain cases, he withdraws interest
completely and buries his face in the front of his mother's
blouse. It is usually possible to manage the situation so
that active reassurance is not given, and it is very interest­
ing to watch the gradual and spontaneous return of the
child's interest in the spatula.
Stage 2. All the time, in "the period of hesitation"
(as I call it), the baby holds his body still (but not rigid) .
Gradually he becomes brave enough to let his feelings
develop, and then the picture changes quite quickly. The
moment at which this first phase changes into the second
is evident, for the child's acceptance of the reality of
desire for the spatula is heralded by a change in the inside
of the mouth, which becomes flabby, while the tongue
looks thick and soft, and saliva flows copiously. Before
long he puts the spatula into his mouth and is chewing
it with his gums, or seems to be copying father smoking
a pipe. The change in the baby's behaviour is a striking
feature. Instead of expectancy and stillness there now
develops self-confidence, and there is free bodily move­
ment, the latter related to manipulation of the spatula.
I have frequently made the experiment of trying to
get the spatula to the infant's mouth during the stage of
hesitation. Whether the hesitation corresponds to my
normal or differs from it in degree or quality, I find that
it is impossible during this stage to get the spatula to the
child's mouth apart from the exercise of brutal strength.
In certain cases where the inhibition is acute any effort
on my part that results in the spatula being moved
towards the child produces screaming, mental distress,
or actual colic.
The baby now seems to feel that the spatula is in his
possession, perhaps in his power, certainly available for
the purposes of self-expression. 3
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 74 -
Clearly, for the bored child nothing is "available for the pur­
poses of self-expression. " Instead of "expectancy and stillness"
there is a dreary agitation; instead of "self-confidence and . . .
free bodily movement" there is a cramped restlessness. Bore­
dom, one could say, is the set situation before there is a spatula
to be found; or perhaps, more absurdly, a set situation full of
spatulas in which the child has to find one that really appeals
to him. The bored child, a sprawl of absent possibilities, is
looking for something to hold his attention. He is like a man
who walks as quickly as possible through a gallery until a pic­
ture actually arrests his attention, until he is stopped-and at
that point, we might add, the transference has taken. For the
child to be allowed to have what Winnicott calls "the full course
of the experience" the child needs the use of an environment
that will suggest things without imposing them; not preempt
the actuality of the child' s desire by force-feeding, not distract
the child by forcing the spatula into his mouth. It is a process,
Winnicott is saying, that is easily violated-although I would
say that in growing up one needs a certain fl air for distraction­
and analogous to the analytic situation, in which the analyst's
interpretations offer views rather than imposing convictions. In
psychoanalysis, by definition, a militant or moralistic compe­
tence is inappropriate, merely a distraction.
The shining spatula, like Winnicott's initial squiggle, is, of
course, an invitation to the child, an offering. What Winnicott
calls the environment, though not exactly asserting itself, is at
least tentatively promising; hinting, as it were. Gradually gain­
ing interest in something that has attracted his attention, the
infant, in his period of hesitation, "becomes brave enough to
let his feelings develop. " The period, wonderfully observed and
imagined by Winnicott, in which the infant begins to experience
his desire is an intrinsically problematic, diffi cult time. A child
described later in the paper gets asthma during the period of
hesitation. "For this child, " Winnicott writes, "asthma was
associated with the moment at which there is normally hesita­
tion, and hesitation implies mental conflict. " 4 One can ask then,
adapting Freud' s phrase, What are the individual's preconditions
On Being Bored
- 75 -
for desire, for letting his feelings develop? What are the situa­
tions he sets-the occasions he organizes-to make desire pos­
sible? Boredom, of course, is prehesitation, but in each period
of boredom the child returns to these questions.
The ordinary boredom of childhood is the benign version
of what gets acted out, or acted out of, in what Winnicott calls
the antisocial tendency. 5 But as adults boredom returns us to
the scene of inquiry, to the poverty of our curiosity, and the
simple question, What does one want to do with one's time?
What is a brief malaise for the child becomes for the adult a
kind of muted risk. Afer all, who can wait for nothing?
Clov: Do you believe in the life to come?
Hamm: Mine was always that.
Samuel Beckett, Endgame
In the process of waiting for the mother the child discovers a
capacity for representation as a means of deferral. Representa­
tion-fantasy-is the medium in which he desires and waits.
The child can conceive of himself, as a desiring subject, in her
absence, only in the space that comes between them. Optimally,
with the cumulative experience of waiting for a reliable mother
the child will confidently fnd himself as the source of pos­
sibilities; and he will be relatively unembittered by his gradual
pre-oedipal disillusionment and loss of omnipotence. What
Melanie Klein has described as the paranoid-schizoid position6
may be simply an account of the state of mind of an infant who
has been made to wait beyond his capacity or tolerance, to the
point at which desire is experienced intrapsychically as a threat
to the always precarious integrity of the ego. What Klein does
reveal, following Freud, is what could be called the individual's
will to substitution, the need for every absence to be a presence.
For the infant, in the agonies of waiting indefnitely, the good
breast turns into the bad persecuting breast, but is neverthe­
less present as such in the infant's mind. In Klein' s develop­
mental theory, therefore, the whole notion of waiting is being
rethought because, in a sense, the infant is never alone. Without
ON KIS SING, TICKL ING, AND BEING BORED
¯
76
¯
suffcient attentiveness by the mother there is to an excessive
degree what Laplanche so starkly describes, in a different con­
text, as an attack of the drives on the ego; 7 which will become,
through projection, a refusal of the eventual presence of the
object. It is diffcult to enjoy people for whom we have waited
too long. And in this familiar situation, which evokes such
intensities of feeling, we wait and we try to do something other
than waiting, and we often get bored-the boredom of protest
that is always a screen for rage.
One can, of course, distract oneself only from what one
has seen, or imagines one has seen. The defenses, as Freud
described them, are forms of recognition, instruments for the
compromising of knowledge. We can think of boredom as a
defense against waiting, which is, at one remove, an acknowl­
edgment of the possibility of desire. And we can use as an
analogy here Freud's explanation of the double-think in fetish­
ism from his paper of 1 927. After the child has been confronted
with the fact that, as he understands it, the woman lacks a penis,
"we see, " Freud writes, "that the perception has persisted, and
that a very energetic action has been undertaken to maintain the
disavowal. " The child "has retained that belief but he has also
given it up"; like the patient Freud mentions, he "oscillates . . .
between two assumptions. " 8 In boredom, we can also say, there
are two assumptions, two impossible options: there is some­
thing I desire, and there is nothing I desire. But which of the
two assumptions, or beliefs, is disavowed is always ambiguous,
and this ambiguity accounts, I think, for the curious paralysis
of boredom (it is worth remembering Joyce McDougall's sense
of disavowal, that it "implies the notion of 'avowal' followed
by a destruction of meaning"). 9 In boredom there is the lure of
a possible object of desire, and the lure of the escape from
desire, of its meaninglessness.
In this context what begins for the child as the object of
desire becomes, for the adult, what Christopher Bollas has
described as the "transformational object. " Initially the mother,
it is "an object that is experientially identifed by the infant with
the process of the alteration of self experience. " This earliest
On Being Bored
77 -
relationship becomes the precursor of, the paradigm for, "the
person's search for an object (a person, place, event, ideology)
that promises to transform the self " At the frst stage "the
mother is not yet identifed as an object but is experienced as a
process of transformation, and this feature remains in the trace
of this object-seeking in adult life, where I believe the object is
sought for its function as signifer of the process of transforma­
tion of being. Thus, in adult life, the quest is not to possess the
object; it is sought in order to surrender to it as a process that
alters the self. " 10 But just as, for example, we cannot know
beforehand which of the day' s events from what Freud calls the
"dream-day" will be used as day-residues in the dream-work,
we cannot necessarily know what will serve as a transforma­
tional object. The fact that anything might serve to transform a
person's life has extravagant consequences for the possible
shapes of a life, and, of course, for the significance attributed
to therapeutic interventions. We are drawn, in fact, to ask a
brash question: a madeleine or an analyst? An analysis can at
least be arranged. But it cannot, alas, organize epiphanies, or
guarantee those processes of transformation-those articula­
tions-that return the future to us through the past. Of our
own past, Proust writes in Swann's Way ( 1 913), " It is a labour
in vain to attempt to recapture it: all the efforts of our intellect
must prove futile. The past is hidden somewhere outside the
realm, beyond the reach of intellect, in some material object (in
the sensation which that material object will give us) which we
do not suspect. And as for that object, it depends on chance
whether we come upon it or not before we ourselves die. "
1 1
The past can also, as we know, be hidden in the transference,
and so can appear to be hidden in that material object called the
analyst. But can we believe that there is a royal road, so to
speak, to the transformational object?
Boredom, I think, protects the individual, makes tolerable
for him the impossible experience of waiting for something
without knowing what it could be. So the paradox of the wait­
ing that goes on in boredom is that the individual does not
know what he was waiting for until he finds it, and that often he
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 78 -
does not know that he is waIting. One could, in this sense,
speak of the "analytic attitude" as an attentive boredom. With
his set of approximations the bored individual is clueless and
mildly resentful, involved in a halfhearted, despondent search
for something to do that will make a difference.
Clearly, we should speak not of boredom, but of the bore­
doms, because the notion itself includes a multiplicity of moods
and feelings that resist analysis; and this, we can say, is integral
to the function of boredom as a kind of blank condensation of
psychic life. In that more ordinary, more fleeting, boredom of
the child the waiting is repressed. The more common risk for
the adult-less attended to, more set in his ways, than the
child-is that the boredom will turn into waiting. That the
individual will become "brave enough to let his feelings
develop" in the absence of an object-toward a possible object,
as it were-and by doing so commit himself, or rather, entrust
himself, to the inevitable elusiveness of that object. For the
adult, it seems, boredom needs to be the more permanent sus­
pended animation of desire. Adulthood, one could say, is when
it begins to occur to you that you may not be leading a charmed
life.
- 8 -
Looking at Obstacles
The way to solve the problem you see in life is to live
in a way that makes the problem disappear.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value
A twelve-year-old girl was referred to me for what turned out
to be an array of symptoms that she had managed to organize
into a school phobia. At the age of ten, having nursed a sense
of neglect in the family, which she perceived as two groups,
the parents and "the girls, " her two elder sisters, both leaving
her out, she asked her parents if she could go to boarding school.
This had been an unconscious test of their devotion to her; she
was dismayed to fi nd herself, within three months of the
request, in a public school three hundred miles from home. At
first timid and pliable-the headmistress referred to her as
"sweet and helpful" -she suddenly came to life after a year in
a phobia with which she was terrorizing herself She was unable
to walk into the classroom; as she said, it made her feel "too
excited, " and she thought she would faint or "screech like an
owl. " When I said to her in our first awkward meeting that
owls kill at night she thought for a moment and then said with
some relish, "In the dark things don't get in the way. " I was
reassured by this because it made me feel that, despite all the
uncertainties and refusals in which she hoarded her rage, she
knew about the fluency in herself. I thought that she no longer
wanted to guard her grudges.
Unusually for a phobic child, she entered into the spirit of
psychotherapy with some vigor after a few months' stubborn
impatience in which, quite sensibly, she treated me as part of
the problem. The only thing that struck me as genuinely odd
about her was her attitude to my holiday breaks. When I told
ON KIS SING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
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80 -
her of the dates of my holidays or made comments to prepare
her, she treated all these remarks as a kind of hiatus in the
conversation; I felt quite suddenly as though I was talking in
her sleep. She was oblivious but in no way puzzled. Very
politely she would let me have my say, as though I was someone
with an intrusive obsession who every so often needed to blurt
something out about the diffculties of separation. If I got irri­
tated and asked her if she had heard what I was saying, she was
mildly bemused, but it made no difference. She would treat the
sessions before the holiday as quite ordinary and would carry
on the next session as though nothing had come between us. I
found her absolute refusal to take me seriously as someone who
went away rather endearing. I was aware that she had intrigued
me with this, which, in another context, or in someone else,
might have given me serious cause for concern.
And then in the session before the third holiday break she
arrived with an atlas. I had told her, and had been telling her
for some time, that I was going away for two weeks to America.
In what sense she had heard this I had no way of knowing. But
in this session she went straight to the table and traced maps of
America and Britain. She then reproduced them on a piece of
paper and said to me, "While you're there [pointing to America] ,
I 'll be here [pointing to Britain] making the tea. " I said, "That's
amazing! T is the difference between here and there"; and she
grinned and said, "So I'll be making the difference. " A lot can
be made of this, but for my purposes here I would say that she
could allow herself to recognize the holiday as an obstacle only
when, in fantasy, she could bring it within the range of her own
omnipotence: when she was making the tea. The initial "differ­
ence" has to be made, or rather imagined to have been made,
by the subject, not by the object. So the frst question is: What
are the preconditions for the recognition of an obstacle? And
the frst assertion is: one can recognize an obstacle-which can
mean construct something as an obstacle-only when it can
be tolerated. Only through knowing what we think of as
an obstacle can we understand our fantasies of continuity.
Looking at Obstacles
81 -
In an interview with a couple and their frst child, who was
now a toddler, the mother was describing how frantic her son
made her by his clinging. She couldn't go to the toilet, or go
shopping, or do anything without his hanging on to her, wound
round her legs. Her description evoked in me the image of
somebody running who was gradually being metamorphosed
into a tree. She could "never, " she said, "have a moment to
herself"; he was always-this son who was insinuating himself
up and down her body like roots-"in the way. " And it was
this familiar phrase-"He is always in the way"-that was insis­
tently repeated. It was not diffcult to make some sense of all
this in terms of the changed relationship between the couple.
And it is, of course, put as schematically as this, a common
family scenario with children at this developmental stage. But
toward the end of the session the thought came into my mind,
"Where would she be going ifher son was not in the way?" So
I asked her, and she replied quite cheerfully, "Oh, I wouldn't
know where I was ! " The second question then is: How are
obstacles unconsciously constructed? And the second assertion
is: The obstacle is used to conceal-to pack up, as it were-the
unconscious desire. If the child is always in the way-and par­
ents and children may cooperate to ensure that this is the case­
then the mother can never fnd out where she would be going
if no one was in the way (of course; one should not underesti­
mate a person's wish to be an obstacle) . So one way of describ­
ing the family situation is that the mother, or the father, needs
the child to cling in order to paralyze any realization-or recog­
nition-of alternative unconscious projects. The obstacle is a
way of not letting something else happen, a necessary blind
spot.
In Being and Nothingness Sartre describes the situation of a
walker confronted with an overhanging cliff face. "For the sim­
ple traveller, " he writes, "who passes over this road and whose
free project is a pure aesthetic ordering of the landscape, the
crag is not revealed either as scalable or not scalable; it is man­
ifested only as beautiful or ugly. " 1 If I am simply on a walk,
the rock face is an obstacle; if I am a painter, it is not. But the
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 82 -
absurd-the psychoanalytic-possibility that Sartre does not
consider is that I may realize I am on a walk only when I
perceive the cliff as an obstacle. That is to say, the only way to
discover your projects is to notice-to make conscious-what
you reckon are obstacles. So the third question would be: What
kind of obstacles does one fi nd oneself making, what is one's
vocabulary of impediments? (And in clinical terms one could
ask: What is the patient's-and, of course, the analyst's-per­
sonal repertoire of obstacles?) And the third assertion would be:
The desire does not reveal the obstacle; the obstacle reveals the
desire. And if only it was as simple as this we could say to our
patients, or to ourselves, "Tell me what your obstacles are, and
I will tell you what you desire. "
There is an apocryphal story about Adler who in his early,
more psychoanalytic days, would ask the patient at the end of
the first consultation, "What would you do if you were cured?"
The patient would answer, and then Adler would say, "Well,
go and do it then! "
A thirty-two-year-old man came to see me for a consultation,
but very unsure whether his "problem, " as he referred to it
ironically, warranted psychotherapy, or even consideration as
a problem. He talked about how the problem might not be one,
but wi
th
out telling me for some time what it was. He was both
jaunty and shy about it all and eventually told me-having
made himself rather unavailable-that the problem was that he
always fell for "unavailable women. " I asked him in what sense
they were unavailable, and he said that they always had part­
ners. I said, "Yes, so in what sense are they unavailable?" He
smiled and said, "So you mean, what's the problem?" I apolo­
gized for being harsh, though in retrospect I think I was also
speaking the voice of his disowned rivalry-in psychoanalysis
one exaggerates the patient's muted voices-and I replied that
he might feel safer with the conviction that they were unavail­
able, and that we might be able to understand why he needed
an obstacle to free his desire. He agreed that he found it slightly
reassuring that these women he wanted had men who would
Looking at Obstacles
- 83 -
protect them from him. I wondered if perhaps he wanted to be
protected by a stronger man. And he replied, almost as though
it was a proverb, or a piece of folklore, "If you want to get a
man, try to get a woman. "
It is impossible to imagine desire without obstacles, and
wherever we find something to be an obstacle we are at the
same time desiring. It is part of the fascination of the Oedipus
story in particular, and perhaps of narrative in general, that we
and the heroes and heroines of their fictions never know
whether obstacles create desire, or desire creates obstacles. We
are never quite sure which it is we are seeking, and it is difficult
to imagine how to keep the story going without both. So the
next question is: Why do we need to think of them as inextri­
cable? And the answer to this question would tell us something
interesting about our fictions about desire. A psychoanalytic
answer-or rather, response-might be: Desire without obsta­
cles is merging or incest, and so the death of desire; and obstacles
without desire are literally unthinkable, or surreal like Mag­
ritte's doors suspended in the air.
This apparently inevitable twinning of obstacle and desire
suggests, in the case of my male patient, another assertion: The
object of unconscious desire can be represented only by the
obstacles to the conscious object of desire. This man was con­
scious of his desire for women, and conscious of their partners
as obstacles. But for him the unconscious object of desire was
the obstacle, the man. The desire for the object can be used to
mask the desire for the obstacle. When we unpack the obstacles
in analysis-when we think of them as the way rather than as
something in the way-we fnd them, like Pandora's box, full
of the unusual and the forbidden. If I know what I want by
coming up against what prevents me from having it, then there
must anyway be a wish for obstacles as unconscious mnemonics
of desire. The obstacle reminds me of what I want, in one part
of my mind, to forget.
Symptoms, of course, are always construed by the patient
as obstacles; so it is always worth wondering what the patient' s
imaginary unobstructed life would look like in the absence of
ON KI S SIN G, TICKLIN G, A ND BEI NG BORED
- 84 -
such constraints. What are the catastrophic-or catastrophically
pleasurable-scenarios that his cherished obstacles both protect
him from and sustain as an anticipated possibility in an always
deferred future? "Countless times, " Rousseau writes in book 1
of the Confssions,
during my apprenticeship and since, I have gone out
with the idea of buying some sweet thing. As I come to
the pastry cook's I catch sight of the women behind the
counter and can already imagine them laughing among
themselves and making fun of the greedy youngster.
Then I pass a fruiterer's and look at the ripe pears out of
the corer of my eye; the scent of them tempts me. But
two or three young people over there are looking at me;
a man I know is standing in front of the shop; I can see
a girl coming in the distance. Is she not our maidservant?
My short sight is constantly deceiving me. I take every­
one who passes for someone I know. I am frightened by
everything and discover obstacles everywhere. As my
discomfort grows my desire increases. But in the end I
go home like an idiot, consumed by longing and with
money enough in my pocket to satisfy it, but not having
dared to buy anything. 2
Satisfaction for Rousseau is the death of possibility. So Rousseau
needs not to master the obstacles, but to nurture them. Antici­
pation is the mother of invention. And in his commitment to
innocence there is always the covert suggestion that nothing is
forbidden, that we are not controlling ourselves, just fnding
ways of making what we don' t do more exciting. In this almost
frenzied and certainly fraught scenario we fnd Rousseau's wish
to make a spectacle of his desire apparently controlled by the
projected disapproval of others. He creates an entirely reassur­
ing and familiar world-"I take everyone who passes for some­
one I know" -policed by exciting obstacles. And this catalogue
of obstacles-the women behind the counter, the young people,
the man, and the maid-he supposes to be excessively interested
in his desire. He has money in his pocket, but he needs these
obstacles to make his ordinary desire seem, at least to himself,
Looking at Obstacles
¯
85 -
criminal. If it is dangerous to buy a ripe pear, only a dangerous
man can do it. Ifhis aliveness or his potency is in doubt -and
how could they not be?-then the obstacles he creates have the
effect of making his desire seem inordinately powerful; so
powerful in fact, so socially disruptive, that the audience he has
simulated forgets everything else. He is unable to think what
would happen if no one was at all interested in his desire. "I
am frightened by everything, " he writes, "and discover obsta­
cles everywhere. " But he is frightened by everything-that is,
excited by everything-because he discovers obstacles every­
where; because every obstacle makes him potentially a criminal.
And if Rousseau is not unconsciously a criminal he is not, in
his own eyes at least, a man.
What Rousseau alerts us to here is the passion for obstacles.
And this leads me to the next assertion: The frst relationship
is not with objects but with obstacles. Or to put it another way,
from the other end, so to speak: People fall in love at the
moments in their lives when they are most terrorized by pos­
sibilities. In order to fall in love with someone they must be
perceived to be an obstacle, a necessary obstacle.
"We can only laugh, " Freud wrote, "when a joke has come to
our help. " It is as though we need something to release, or
permit, the laugh that is already inside us. It is through the joke,
Freud suggests, that we are momentarily released from the
obstacles we have imposed on our pleasure. It is, in fact, inJokes
and Their Relation to the Unconscious that Freud uses the word
obstacle-at least in the English translation-with the greatest
frequency. And the joke is so important for Freud because it is
the most ingeniously efficient way of rescuing our pleasure from
the obstacles. And rescuing pleasure, in Freud' s terms, is a form
of remembrance. Jokes
make possible the satisfaction of an instinct (whether lust­
ful or hostile) in the face of an obstacle that stands in its
way. They circumvent this obstacle and in that way draw
pleasure from a source which the obstacle had made inac­
cessible . . . The repressive activity of civilisation brings
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 86 -
it about that primary possibilities of enjoyment, which
have now, however, been repudiated by the censorship
in us, are lost to us. But to the human psyche all renun­
ciation is exceedingly difficult, and so we fnd that ten­
dentious jokes provide a means of undoing the renunci­
ation and retrieving what was lost. 3
Jokes, like dreams, are the saboteurs of repression. Civilization
makes an obstacle course of our pleasures, but jokes link us to
our losses, what Freud calls our "primary possibilities of enjoy­
ment. " The obstacles keep us safe, but the joke endangers us
with excitement. What Freud makes less explicit is that the
obstacle provides us with an additional source of pleasure-the
pleasure to be got from successfully circumventing the obstacle.
Outwitting is the other soul of wit. So there is always an ironic
sense in which the search for obstacles is also the search for
pleasure. ("Failure to understand a joke, " as Proust's narrator
reminds us, "has never yet made anyone find it less amusing. ") 4
One of the aims of psychoanalytic treatment may be to enable
the patient to find, or be able to tolerate, more satisfying obsta­
cles to contend with. Poor obstacles impoverish us.
An obstacle is literally something that stands in the way,
a "hindrance, impediment, obstruction . . . resistance, objec­
tion" as the Oxford English Dictionary has it, adding a seven­
teenth-century usage of "to make obstacle, " meaning "to offer
opposition. " These definitions are all obviously suggestive in
relation to psychoanalytic theory. In the repetition compulsion,
for example, what is the obstacle, what prevents the patient
from organizing a more exact repetition? Or to think of resis­
tance as the construction of an obstacle might lead us to rede­
scribe resistances as peculiarly inventive artifacts. "The real
resistance, " Sandor Ferenczi and Otto Rank write in The Devel­
opment of Psycho-Analysis, "far from disturbing the analytic
work is actually a requisite and acts as a mainspring in regulating
its course . . . the content of the resistance is also of importance
for it almost always is a sign that the patient here too repro­
duces instead of remembers and in the material betrays also that
Looking at Obstacles
- 87 -
which he would like by means of reproduction to withdraw
from analytic elaboration. " 5 The resistance encodes the past
that, by being repeated rather than remembered, is an obstacle
to the future. Like all defenses it apparently forecloses the
future, one thing the patient and the analyst will never know
anything about. What is repressed in advance is the novelty of
experience. The obstacle of repetition-resistance as repeti­
tion-creates the illusion of foresight. And psychoanalytic
theory can collude with this by implying that the future is
merely the past in different terms.
As George Crabbe writes in his once extremely popular
English Synonymes Explained ( 1 81 8) , "the obstacle opposes itself,
it is properly met in the way, and intervenes between us and
our object. " And just in case we might forget that, from a
psychoanalytic point of view, the fetish, after the father, is the
paradigmatic obstacle, Crabbe gives us as a further definition:
"in latin obstaculum from obsta to stand in the way, signifies the
thing that stands in the way between the person and the object
that he has in view. " Given the emphasis on the visual here-the
object in view-it is always worth considering which of the
senses is being used for analogy in the construction of the
obstacle. I can smell and hear round corners; if there is a wall
between us I won't be able to taste you.
"The thing that stands in the way between the person and
the object he has in view" is Freud's description of the making
of a fetish. "When the fetish is instituted . . . the subject' s
interest comes to a halt half-way, as it were; it is as though the
last impression before the uncanny and traumatic one is retained
as a fetish. Thus the foot or shoe owes its preference as a fetish­
or part of it-to the circumstances that the inquisitive boy
peered at the women's genital from below, from her legs Up. " 6
The terror of castration, Freud claims, and thus the loss of
bodily integrity, produces a need to find obstacles to the per­
ception that there are two sexes. The fetish sponsors the idea
that there is nothing to lose. As Victor Smirnoff says, the fetish­
ist is "someone who is trying to secure a triple guarantee­
to make good his fundamental loss, to maintain and assure
continuity, and to recognize his own sexual status in relation
ON KISSING, TICKL ING, AND BEING BORED
- 88 -
to the fantasy of the phallic mother. " 7 But the irony of this
obstacle, the fetish, is that it is needed to stop the fetishist from
seeing what he has already seen, what Smirnoff calls, "his
fundamental loss. " Like all defenses it is a form of acknowl­
edgment, a tolerable way of thinking about something unac­
ceptable. What the boy frst saw, in fantasy, as it were, was
that there was no obstacle-or was the penis an obstacle?­
to becoming a woman. What was absent was an obstacle to
castration.
"The fetish, " Freud writes, "is a substitute for the mother's
penis, " so it provides an obstacle to the thought " A person can
lose a penis, " and an obstacle to the thought "I ' m different from
my mother. " "He has retained the belief [that a woman has a
penis] , " Freud writes, "but he has also given it up. " 8 Just as it
is the sign of a good theory that it can be used to support
contradictory positions, it is the sign of a good fetish that it
keeps incompatible ideas alive. The obstacle that is found to
seeing the female genitals-a shoe in Freud' s example-is a
way of sustaining belief that there are two sexes and denying it
at the same time. The obstacle secretly confronts the fetishist
with what it protects him from. But the object of desire is
unbearable without the obstacle of the fetish.
But how can one have, as Freud suggests, and indeed keeps
recurring to throughout his work, opposing "currents" in men­
tal life? In the essay on fetishism he describes two boys for
whom "it was only one current in their mental life that had
not recognised their father's death; there was another current
that took full account of that fact. " 9 How can we describe the
obstacles-which are fantasies-that stop these contradictory
thoughts from contaminating each other? Perhaps we talk too
much about dissociation without trying to describe what we
put between states of mind to keep them apart. And this is a
particularly interesting project because what keeps them apart­
and this is the essence of the obstacle-also links them. Some­
times, in fact, what keeps things apart may be the only connec­
tion between them. In the attack on linking, the attack becomes
the link.
Looking at Obstacles
- 89 -
Once we are talking of this paradox of the link that sepa­
rates we are inevitably reminded of Winnicott's apparently
familiar concept of the transitional object, something that comes
between to make a more facilitating connection. The inter­
mediate area of transitional phenomena, he writes, "exists as a
resting place for the individual engaged in the perpetual human
task of keeping inner and outer reality separate yet interrelated. "
It is with the idea of transitional phenomena that Winnicott
introduces something that I think should be called obstacle-rela­
tions as an addition, or perhaps an alternative, to object-rela­
tions. If the fetish is an acknowledgment through disavowal of
the threat of castration, the transitional object is an acknowledg­
ment through mediation of the dual threat of merging and abso­
lute isolation. And this dual threat we think of as pre-oedipal
in origin. We could, in fact, describe the differences between
the oedipal and the pre-oedipal in terms of the difference of
obstacles. Winnicott, however, never makes clear the connec­
tion between the use of transitional objects and the shift from
pre-oedipal to oedipal relationships. He writes only that "the
object represents the infant' s transition from the state of being
in relation to the mother as something outside and separate. "
It is an obstacle to merging and absolute loss-the two funda­
mental terrors construed by psychoanalysis-and so creates the
space for experiencing. In the transitional space neither threat
is preemptive or overwhelming. "The term transitional object, "
he writes, "according to my suggestion, gives room for the
process of becoming able to accept difference and similarity, "
10
unlike the fetish, one might add, which out of the terror of
difference is used to simulate sameness. In this "process of
becoming able to accept difference and similarity, " difference
entails the making or finding of obstacles, similarity the relin­
quishing or destroying of obstacles.
There are no obstacles to one's own death, but the obstacles
to murder are unsurprising. The second murderer in Richard Ill,
describing conscience, says to his accomplice: " 'Tis a blushing,
shamefac'd spirit that mutinies in a man's bosom. It flls a man
full of obstacles. " It is to the flling and emptying of obstacles
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- 90 -
in a person's life-at its most extreme in manic-depressive
states-that we should turn our attention if we wish to under­
stand something new about the conundrum of sameness and
difference. The obstacle makes the difference; so in develop­
mental terms it is the obstacle that makes possible the object,
that makes possible the idea of someone else.
A person's life, we should remember, in the terms of
Freud' s later work, was described as an obstacle between two
quiescent states. But then Freud believed in the opposition, the
antagonism, between life and death.
I was standing one day in a line in a post offi ce in Camberwell,
and a small child in a stroller in the line next to me kept throw­
ing her doll away, much to her mother's annoyance. Each time
it happened the mother retrieved it, much to the child' s surprise,
and then it was immediately thrown away again. After about
the ffth or sixth time the mother brought the doll back and
said crossly to her daughter, "If you lose that you've had it. "
This struck me then as rather an interesting remark. Obviously
I have no idea what the child made of it-although she did stop
throwing out the doll-and I have some idea of what the mother
intended. But it did occur to me that this little girl may have
been trying to find out something about what came between
herself and an object-what the distance or the difference was
made of-and how it is removed. To throw away the doll was
to impose an obstacle, and by doing so to fi nd out something
about the object. This is the kind of object that only certain
obstacles can come between; and these certain obstacles seem,
at least at fi rst, to be automatically removed by the mother. If
she had finally lost it-found an absolute obstacle to its pres­
ence-she would indeed have had it in a specific sense.
In a commentary on Simone Weil' s statement that "All
human progress consists in changing constraint into an obsta­
cle, " the philosopher Peter Winch writes: "When I see things
as obstacles I am already on the way to investigating and
developing systematic ideas about their properties and interrela­
tions; about the necessities to which they are subject. " What I
Looking at Obstacles
- 91 -
am suggesting is that the child can fnd out what the object
is-or rather, get a version of what it might be, its properties
and interrelations-only by finding or constructing obstacles to
its access or availability. The search for obstacles-the need to
impose them in their familiar guise of time and space-is part
of the endless, bafed inquiry into the nature of the object. I
know what something or someone is by finding out what comes
between us.
The little girl throwing her doll away is, of course, reminis­
cent of Freud's description of his grandson's Fort-Da game.
When the child discovers the cotton-reel, that he can pull back
what he has thrown away, Freud suggests, he is on his way to
mastering, by symbolic substitution, the absence imposed upon
him by his mother. The child is beginning to work out what
it is that is between people, which is related to what it is that
comes between people. There is no thread of cotton connecting
them; rather, he is hanging by the thread of his wishful desire.
But the existence of that extraordinary phenomena, the wish,
always implies a prior perception of obstacles. After all, why
would we need to wish if nothing were in the way?
The way we get to know what we eventually call a mother
is through the obstacles to her presence. To feel hunger is to
feel a growing obstacle to its gratification. In what Winnicott
calls the "moment of illusion" -the moment of desire when it
is imagined that the infant fantasizes the edible mother and she
actually feeds him-it is as though the object of desire emerges
out of the obstacles to her presence, as out of a fog. At the
beginning, perhaps, there is not a mother in mind, but an
obstacle to a mother; not a mother that is absent, but an obstacle
that is present. (Another way of saying this would be to ask
the slightly absurd question, Is the first thought the absence of
mother or the presence of time?) At the so-called beginning the
child enters not a world of objects, but a world of obstacles.
Consciousness is of obstacles. Wherever you look, as the Chi­
nese proverb says, there' s something in the way.
The unconscious in Freud' s description is, so to speak, a
place without obstacles; or rather, a world immune from the
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
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92
-
obstacles created by what he calls secondary process thinking;
a world, he writes, "exempt from mutual contradiction . . .
There are in this system, no negation, no doubt, no degrees of
certainty"; the unconscious, he mentions on several occasions,
is "timeless. " 1 2 So a good question to ask of a dream-indeed
a question often crucial to its interpretati
o
n-is, What are the
obstacles that have been removed to make this extraordinary
scene possible? In the Freudian topography we are not only, in
the familiar formula, half man half beast; we are also composed
of two worlds: a world without the usual obstacles-the uncon­
scious that Freud called "the other place" -and a world that is
an obstacle-course, a world presided over by the ego in its
desperate search for obstacles. And interpretation-the linking
of these two worlds-becomes nothing more than the addition,
subtraction, or modification of obstacles.
John Cage said in an interview that it was through reading
D. T. Suzuki on Zen Buddhism that he came to realize that
"sound no longer comprises an obstacle to silence; silence is no
longer a screen with regard to sound. " 13 Perhaps this is one way
of picturing something as really bizarre, something as virtually
unthinkable, as the Freudian unconscious. The unconscious as
a "seething cauldron" is easier to imagine than a place without
obstacles. And without obstacles the notion of development, at
least in its progressivist sense, is inconceivable. There would be
nothing to master.
I wrote this essay to show that obstacles are the clue to
desire, that the word is full of meaning. But I have an uneasy
feeling, which we probably all remember from childhood, and
which may be pertinent to the subject at hand; the feeling that
comes when one endlessly repeats a word only to be left with
an enigmatic obstacle as to its sense.
- 9 -
Plotting for Kisses
These violent delights have violent ends,
And in their triumph die like fre and powder,
Which as they kiss consume.
Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet
An eight-year-old girl tells me in a session how much she loves
being in the countryside on holiday. I ask what she likes doing
there, and she replies, with a kind of blithe indifference, "Oh,
sometimes I just go out looking . . . for cows, birds, kisses,
things like that. " "Kisses?" I ask. "You know, lovers . . . I hate
it when people kiss, their mouths get muddled up. "
A boy of seventeen who has been trying for weeks to work
out what it is about his girlfriend that is "driving him mad"­
the frustration, that is to say, for which he uses her-arrives at
his session in an unusually bumptious mood. He has realized,
he announces to me triumphantly, what it is about her: "She
doesn't kiss properly. " He mooches around in his mind for
more to say, but to his own surprise he is blank, so I offer him
a suggestion: "When people kiss they've stopped talking. If
her kisses were words, what would they be saying to you?"
"You can't really love someone that you don't love kissing, "
he replies, as though oblivious to my question.
In 1 930 Sandor Ferenczi, speculating along what were by
then traditional psychoanalytic lines about what he called "oral
eroticism in education, " wrote in his journal: "It is not impos­
sible that the question of how much oral eroticism (sucking the
breasts, the thumb, the dummy-kissing) should be allowed or
even offered to the suckling, and later in the period of weaning,
is of paramount importance for the development of character. " 1
In his repertoire of the infant' s oral eroticism kissing, placed at
the end of the list, is the anomalous element. It includes sucking,
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- 94 -
of course, but this is not its defnitive characteristic. With the
mouth's extraordinary virtuosity, it involves some of the plea­
sures of eating in the absence of nourishment. But of all self­
comforting or autoerotic activities the most ludicrous, the most
obviously unsatisfying and therefore infrequent, is kissing
oneself
In the same entry Ferenczi goes on to reconstruct the
trauma that certain oral activities try to undo:
Obviously the love life of the newly born begins as com­
plete passivity. Withdrawal of love leads to undeniable
feelings of being deserted. The consequence is the split­
ting of the personality into two halves, one of which
plays the role of the mother (thumb sucking: thumb is
equalled with mother's breast) . Prior to the splitting there
is probably a tendency to self-destruction caused by the
trauma, which tendency, however, can still be inhib­
ited-so to speak-on its way: out of the chaos a new
kind of order is created which is then adapted to the
precarious external circumstances.
Ferenczi imagines the terror-the invisible history-out of
which such banal, self-comforting behavior as thumb sucking
may arise. He assumes that the infant must in a sense choose in
this primal crisis between self-destruction or a new kind of
relationship with himself by taking flight to his own body.
Bereft and relatively powerless, in a precocious, desperate
attempt to become for the time being his own mother, the
infant splits his personality and sucks his thumb. His body then
becomes, in a familiar cliche, the first mother-substitute. The
child will develop more-sophisticated ways of dealing with his
own insuffciency, but there is one thing he will not do, one
thing it is as though, Freud suggests, he will defer until adoles­
cence. The child may stroke or suck himself, or kiss other
people and things, but he will not kiss himself. Eventually,
Freud writes in the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, he
will kiss other people on the mouth because he is unable to kiss
himself there. Kissing, as we shall see-and it is hardly surpris­
ing in retrospect-is central in an oblique way to Freud's theory
Plotting fr Kisses
- 95 -
of sexual development. One way out of the chaos Ferenczi
describes, part of the new order, is the belated desire to kiss
another person on the mouth.
Adults tend to have strong, mostly private and embarrassed
feelings about kissing. But this squeamishness-it would be
silly or arch to be interested in kisses-conceals an intense,
originally infantile curiosity about kissing and a repertoire of
different kinds of kisses. It is, for example, one of the com­
monest infantile sexual theories that babies are conceived by
kissing; like most infantile sexual theories, this is anatomically
inaccurate but suggestive and metonymically correct. Children
are right by implication about kissing. And as Freud recognized,
these infantile sexual theories are not relinquished after children
are told the so-called facts of life. "After such enlightenment, "
he writes,
children know something that they did not know before,
but they make no use of the new knowledge that has
been presented to them . . . They behave like primitive
races who have had Christianity thrust upon them and
who continue to worship their old idols in secret. 2
It is worth wondering, perhaps, what the wishes are in kissing.
At certain periods of our lives we spend a lot of time plot­
ting for kisses, not only as foreplay but also as ends in them­
selves. It is of course considered adolescent-and by adolescent
boys effeminate-to be a connoisseur of such things, although
adolescence too easily involves, as only adults can know, the
putting away of the wrong childish things. Ostentatious kisses
are usually represented in the most popular and once intellec­
tually disparaged genres, romantic novels and films. And
although there are clearly conventions in literature and life gov­
erning the giving and getting of kisses, it is really only from
fi lms that we can learn what the contemporary conventions
might be for kissing itself. Styles of kissing can be seen but not
easily described, as though kissing resists verbal representation.
It is striking that, unlike other forms of sexuality, there is little
synonymy of kissing. It has generated no familiar slang, acquired
ON KI S S ING, TICKL ING, AND BEING BORED
- 96 -
virtually no language in which it can be redescribed. It is not
merely that in the romance of appetite the details of salivation
are not compelling. Apparently for the sake of interest stories
often ignore, in a way flms do not, the fact that the kiss itself
is a story in miniature, a subplot.
From a psychoanalytic point of view, the kiss is a revealing
sequence containing a personal history. The way a person kisses
and likes to be kissed shows in condensed form something about
that person's character. In what Freud saw as the individual's
biphasic sexual development, kissing, as a relatively late version
of oral eroticism, links us to our earliest relationship with our­
selves and other people. It is integral to the individual's ongoing
project of working out what mouths are for. In that craving for
other mouths that is central to the experience of adolescence
and seems to begin then, the individual resumes with newfound
intensity of appetite and inhibition his oral education, connected
now with an emerging capacity for genital sexuality. There is
the return of the primary sensuous experience of tasting another
person, one in which the difference between the sexes can
supposedly be attenuated-the kiss is the image of reciprocity,
not of domination-but one that is also unprecedented devel­
opmentally, since it includes tasting someone else' s mouth.
Although this is prefigured in the childhood game of touching
tongues, children are usually appalled at the idea of putting their
tongues in each other's mouths; partly because kissing signifies
an inhibited rehearsal for intercourse and other sexual practices,
with all the attendant anxieties. Through kissing the erotics of
greed contend again, as in childhood, with the reassurances of
concern; and again, directly in relation to another person's
body. "Animals can be tamed, " Winnicott wrote ominously,
"but not mouths. " 3 Kissing, though, is the sign of taming, of
controlling the potential-at least in fantasy-to bite up and
ingest the other person. Lips, as it were, are the next thing to
teeth, and teeth are great educators.
Mouths learn to kiss. So in psychoanalytic terms kissing
may be, among other things, a compromise solution to what
Freud saw as the individual's primary ambivalence, and a way
Plotting fr Kisses
-
97 -
of gratifying that other appetite he recognized: the appetite for
pleasure independent of the desire for nourishment or reproduc­
tion. When we kiss we devour the object by caressing it; we
eat it, in a sense, but sustain its presence. Kissing on the mouth
can have a mutuality that blurs the distinctions between giving
and taking ("In kissing do you render or receive?" Cressida asks
in Troilus and Cressida) . If in a crude psychoanalytic interpreta­
tion kissing could be described as aim-inhibited eating, we
should also consider the more nonsensical option that eating
can also be, as Freud will imply, aim-inhibited kissing.
In the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality Freud
emphasizes the signifcance of the fact that the individual' s frst
and most formative relationship to the world is an oral one,
that "sucking at his mother's breast has become the prototype
of every relation oflove. " He describes kissing in his master-plot
of development as what might be called a normal perversion,
an ordinary sexual activity that is perverse only in the psycho­
analytic sense that it can be used as, or become, a substitute for
genital intercourse (it is of interest that there are no common
sexual perversions involving kissing as opposed to licking,
sucking, or eating) . "Even a kiss, " Freud writes,
can claim to be described as a perverse act, since it con­
sists in the bringing together of two oral erotogenic zones
instead of two genitals. Yet no one rejects it as perverse;
on the contrary it is permitted in theatrical performances
as a softened hint at the sexual act.4
The kiss, blurring the boundary between the normal and
the perverse, is-perhaps for that same reason-the publicly
acceptable representation of private sexual life, a performed allu­
sion to it. Revealing like no other oral activity the powerful
connection, in fantasy and physiology, between mouths and gen­
itals, kissing is indeed a "softened hint" at the sexual act. When
Bob Dylan sings of a kiss, "her mouth was watery and wet, " 5
he is referring to the fact that not everything that is wet is watery.
In a well-known paragraph from the Three Essays, one that
probably lingered at the back of Ferenczi' s mind, Freud makes
ON KI S S ING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 98 -
more ambitious claims for the possible signifcance of kissing.
"To begin with, " he writes of the infant, "sexual activity
attaches itself to functions serving the purpose of self-preserva­
tion and does not become independent of them till later. " A
time comes for the infant when the sensual pleasure of sucking
the breast is unaccompanied by the need for nourishment and
can be split off from it. Through his mouth the infant experi­
ences a division of claims, a new quality of life. Two parallel
orders of desire develop that can overlap but do not need to:
one more evidently purposive and bound up with the nee� for
nourishment; the other less easy to describe but referred to by
Freud as sexual, having to do with the pleasure of pleasure:
The need for repeating the sexual satisfaction now
becomes detached from the need for taking nourish­
ment-a separation which becomes inevitable when the
teeth appear and food is no longer taken in only by suck­
ing but is also chewed up. The child does not make use
of an extraneous body for his sucking but prefers a part
of his own skin because it is more convenient, because
it makes him independent of the external world, which
he is not yet able to control, and because in that way he
provides himself, as it were, with a second erotogenic
zone, though one of an inferior kind. The inferiority of
this second region is among the reasons why, at a later
date, he seeks the corresponding part-the lips-of
another person. ("It's a pity I can't kiss myself," he seems
to be saying. ) 6
The separation becomes "inevitable, " Freud surmises,
when the possibility of real destructiveness enters the picture.
(In 1 838 Darwin had noted in his journal "one's tendency to
kiss, & almost bite, that which one sexually loves. ") Of neces­
sity the infant turns to the object for nourishment but away
from the object for what Freud advertently calls "sexual satisfac­
tion. " He cannot eat himself, although he can pleasure himself
by sucking parts of his own body. But this second erotogenic
zone, his own skin, is inferior to the mother's breast as a source
of pleasure. It is worth noting that Freud does not say here
Plotting for Kisses
- 99 -
that it is inferior because it is inedible or because it is more
available; he simply states by way of conclusion that it just is
less satisfying. And it is not, in his account, the breasts or the
genitals of another person that are then immediately sought out
at "a later date" but another mouth, and then not only to suck.
Because the mouth, unlike the body parts it sucks, is acutely
alive to its own pleasure, it therefore seeks, Freud seems to be
suggesting, by that same narcissistic logic, its curious reunion
through another person's lips.
It is perhaps useful to summarize the extraordinary
sequence Freud proposes for the individual's primary object of
being at least sexually self-satisfed, given that he cannot initially
feed himself; the journey, that is to lay, from sucking to kissing.
At first pleasure and nourishment are inextricable; then the infant
experiences a new pleasure that Freud calls sexual satisfaction,
which is independent of nourishment but still dependent on the
object. The infant then substitutes his own body as the object
of this separate pleasure and later seeks, among other things,
the "corresponding part" of another person's body: the mouth,
the only part of his body he can never kiss in the mirror. Finally
Freud offers by implication the intriguing, grotesque-almost
unthinkable-image of a person kissing his own mouth, and
suggests that it is a narcissistic blow that he is unable to do so.
This eventual kiss highlights for Freud a double disappoint­
ment that is integral to his conception of human development:
disappointment with the object because its independence makes
it, as it were, the primal inconvenience; disappointment with
the self because it cannot be the original or the suffciently
gratifying object. The individual's frst and forever-recurring
loss, in Freud's view, is not of the object but of the fantasy of
self-sufficiency, of being everything to oneself. In adolescence
the individual will substitute, Freud says, the "inferiority" of
his own skin for the further disillusionment that is at the same
time an intensely evocative pleasure, of kissing another person's
mouth. But why does Freud draw a conclusion so unexpected,
so remote from the ordinary experiences of kissing and being
kissed?
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-
1 00 -
For Freud, development was a process of substitution in
which there were no substitutes, merely necessary alternatives.
Given the hopelessness of the individual's attempts to be sexually
self-satisfed-represented here as the impossibility of kissing
one's own mouth-Freud, I think, saw kissing as confrming
his sense of the narcissistic intent, the grudge at the root of
sexuality: a grudge, that is to say, contingent upon the cumula­
tive trauma that is human development. Desire, he wants us to
know, is always in excess of the object's capacity to satisfy it.
The object of desire, like the kiss that is by defnition a mistake
in Chekhov's story "The Kiss, " is resonant, finally, because it
disappoints; and because it disappoints it can be returned to.
Harmless, the kiss is a symbol of betrayal, and of the revisions
that betrayal always brings in its wake.
What, then, to ask the simple psychoanalytic question, are
the fantasies in kissing? We usually smile beforehand, and often
close our eyes. We kiss our children goodnight, although it is
not immediately obvious why we do so; and we are, of course,
unsurprised that traditionally prostitutes never kiss their clients
on the mouth. Kisses-of which it can be said, despite our
misgivings, that there are many kinds and that they have always
punctuated our lives-are a threat and a promise, the signature
as cliche of the erotic. And therefore, as Freud knew, they
involve us in the dangerous allure and confusion of mistaken
identity, of getting muddled up. In The Anatomy of Melancholy
Burton writes: "To kiss and be kissed, . . . amongst other
things, is as a burden in a song, and a most forcible battery, as
infectious, Xenophon thinks, as the poison of a spider. " 7 Truly
infectious, kissing may be our most furtive, our most reticent
sexual act, the mouth's elegy to itself
- 1 0 -
Playing Mothers: Between
Pedagogy and Transference
If there's nowhere to rest at the end
how can I get lost on the way?
Ikkyu, Crow with No Mouth
Free-floating attention, the notoriously anonymous mirror,
the telephone of unconscious communication: as targets for
identifcation, as instructions in how to behave as a
psychoanalyst, they are not prescriptive with regard to sex. Of
course, Freud's minimalism here and everywhere else in his
writing about technique, invites interpretation-What does one
use a mirror for? Can one teach people to fl oat, in their minds?­
but these analogies are strikingly neuter. By virtue of practicing
as an analyst a person does not thereby turn himself into one
sex or another; that is what the patient is supposed to do to him.
The transference is always something the analyst didn't
know he was expecting until it arrives. It is integral to the
psychoanalytic process that the analyst cannot know beforehand
which sex he is going to be. The analyst is always waiting for
the patient to tell him-and then to discover what the assumed,
the unconscious consequences are of such an invitation. The
psychoanalytic setting is a frame for unanticipated invitations.
And these attributions of apparent sexual identity bring with
them a largely unconscious repertoire of permissions and pro­
hibitions to act, of wished-up assumptions of sexual entitle­
ment. Each sex is categorized according to unconscious fantasies
of function, which are always fantasies of possible drama. The
analyst is not only the one who is supposed to know, but also
the one who is expected to act: as someone in particular, as
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 1 02 -
someone special, but as someone on the move. So-called ana­
lytic neutrality is a paradoxical estrangement technique, devised
to evoke a familiarization. The analyst is the perfect stranger
usable in words.
But transference depends upon the possibility of psychic
mobility; by sitting still the analyst becomes a moving target.
What is being prepared, as Freud said, is an unknowable set of
"new editions and facsimiles, " reiss�es with a new introduction.
It is one of the problematic consequences of what became
British object-relations theory-indeed, an irony from which
it does not know how to recover-that despite the inevitable
vagaries of the patient's transference the analyst always knows
fundamentally whom he will be experienced as at the "deepest"
levels of the patient' s personality. Although he is not in actuality
the patient's mother-with the notable exception of Klein' s
analysis of her own children-he i s playing mother i f and when
he is analyzing the patient's most "primitive" pre-oedipal con­
flicts. The transference, in other words, is both facilitated and
preempted. Unlike the dream, it can be expected. If the analysis
is done properly it will arrive on time. But there is, of course,
an uneasy fi t-a difference that makes all the difference­
between what mothers supposedly do and what analysts are
supposed only to say. If, as Winnicott said, a good interpreta­
tion can be like a good feed, then mothering has replaced dream­
ing as the royal road to the unconscious. One can be given a
good feed but not a good dream. One can be demanding of
dreams, as psychoanalysis is, but one cannot demand a dream.
Mothers, as we shall see, were used by the British School
theorists, as though they were a genus, to provide descriptions
of what psychoanalysts were supposed to be doing. They
became models for a new profession that had uniquely prob­
lematized the question of the model, of the production of
paradigms. After all, from whom, by what process can a person
learn-or rather, become-an analyst? To avert the catastrophe
of the potentially endless charade of identifications-and to pre­
clude addressing the question, What do analysts want?-mothers
were looked at, or rather observed, for the answers. "It has been
Playing Mothers
- 1 03 -
to mothers, " Winnicott wrote, "that I have so deeply needed
to speak. " 1 Clearly, the discovery of transference was still not
incompatible with the idea that mother had the answers.
Whereas in Freud' s writing there are a few cursory descrip­
tions of mothering as the ordinary business of nurture, we fnd
explicitly in the writing of Anna Freud, D. W. Winnicott,
Ronald Fairbairn, John Bowlby, Wilfred Bion-and implicitly
in Melanie Klein in a way that neither she nor her followers
were usually prepared to concede2-a precise sense, derived in
part from empirical observation, of the mother's function and
the pathological consequences of its "failure. " Psychoanalysis
was being used to reinforce, and not to dispel, the notion of
the normative life-story. Mothers were burdened, once again,
with all the disappointments of wisdom.
From one point of view-and not only the point of view
of an improbable progressivism-Freud's lack of interest in a
phenomenology of mothering was a serious omission. But it
was an omission that freed him to ask a new kind of question,
one particularly pertinent to the psychoanalyst as acolyte: What
does my wanting to be like someone-any one-tell me about
my desire?
He who returns has never left.
Pablo Neruda, "Adioses"
In the work of the British School psychoanalysis was not used
as a new way to understand mothering, but mothering was
used to understand psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysts began to
write as though they could be taught by mothers what to do.
The study of mothers and infants, which so quickly became the
focus of psychoanalytic research in Britain after the war, became
the matrix for the study of psychoanalysis. Here, it was
believed, reconstruction could be scientifically informed by
observation, by seeing what really happens (empiricism is
always in an optative mood) . Just as Freud had at frst learned
so much from seeing Charcot's hysterics perform, now the
aspiring analyst could watch the mother and her child perform.
ON KIS SING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 1 04 -
But then, of course, Freud had found that he had learned some­
thing quite different just from listening. What was to differen­
tiate psychoanalysis from its precursors was that the dream was
considered a better model than the spectacle, the visual object
that cannot be seen.
What emerged from this increasingly sophisticated form
of observation were canonical fantasies about mothering that
became paradigmatic for the otherwise puzzling-because un­
precedented-practice of psychoanalysis. The language found
for these observations enabled psychoanalysis to rejoin the
mainstream of social engineering. Developmental theory­
psychoanalysis without the exaggerations, as Adorno might
have said-was instrumental reason in what should have been
an uncongenial context. The mother, Anna Freud wrote in her
influential schema of developmental lines, "becomes not only
the child's fi rst (anaclitic, need-fulflling) object but also the fi rst
external legislator. The frst external laws with which she con­
fronts the infant are concerned with the timing and rationing of
his satisfaction. " 3 Why, one can ask now, did she describe it in
these terms? Why was this the vocabulary-the language­
game-that came to mind? Because, of course, these were the
terms that could be used both to teach the always elusive work
of the psychoanalyst and to make psychoanalysis compatible
with more-traditional social practices. Legislation, timing, and
rationing: to help a person on his way; a vocabulary that consti­
tuted the skill of the psychoanalyst simply by describing a
mother. It was the psychoanalyst making himself a promise.
Was it not, after all, timing and rationing, not to mention legis­
lation, that were the bones of contention that split psychoana­
lytic groups after Freud?
Freud had made it possible to ask the question, a question
that would change the nature of pedagogy and therefore of
ethical inquiry, What is there in, or about, the human subject
that is both prior to and beyond identifcation? In British
psychoanalysis-from the Controversial Discussions to the cur­
rent emphasis on infant-observation in analytic training-the
more traditional, irrepressible question returned: not, How is
Playing Mothers
- 1 05 -
one, through the transference, to analyze identifications-and
so the nature of identifcation itself-but How is one to establish
identifications on frmer ground? 4 Could transference, in other
words, through the observation of mothers and infants, be
resolved into pedagogy? Because whenever psychoanalysts
speak about development it seems as though they are talking
about psychoanalysis as pedagogy, psychoanalysis as the trans­
mission of scientific information about human nature. When
the psychoanalyst speaks about development he stops being the
one who is supposed to know. Transference, after all, has to
stop somewhere . ø .
To be a psychoanalyst, then, whom must I be able to iden­
tify with, or recognize myself being identifed as by the patient?
If developmental theory was one attempt to fx, to ground the
transference, the more interesting because more paradoxical
attempt was derived from Klein's work with what she saw as
the most primitive anxieties that defned the human condition.
Of course, verbal analysis of preverbal states was likely to create
a certain vertigo in the analyst, a fear of heights that could
masquerade as a fear of depths. Winnicott's concept of holding
and Bion's concept of reverie-the two formative paradigms
of analytic technique in the British School-use a version of the
pre-oedipal mother as psychoanalytic mentor. As such, they
were bids to determine the analyst's function through a gender­
specific identifcation.
All women become like their mothers. That is their
tragedy. No man does. That is his.
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earest
Describing the process of "maternal reverie, " Bion writes:
"Normal development follows if the relationship between the
infant and breast permits the infant to project a feeling, say,
that it is dying into the mother and to reintroject it afer its
sojourn in the breast has made it tolerable to the infant psyche. "
This is not a hermeneutic of suspicion but-as the biblical word
sojourn suggests-a process of albeit diffcult hospitality. In
ON KIS SING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 1 06 -
this alchemy of maternal digestion and recycling the mother
and the analyst metabolize the primitive inchoate emotionality
of the infant-and the most regressed patient-to produce
meaning, what Bion refers to as usable "sense-data. " Interpre­
tation becomes visceral; in a rather literal-but no less useful­
analogy, body-based. "The mother's capacity for reverie, " he
writes, in his catastrophic pastoral of normal development, "is
the receptor organ for the infant's harvest of self-sensation
gained by its conscious. " 5 The mother, like the analyst, has to
sow what she reaps. To be able, in Bion's sense, to learn from
experience in analysis is to be able to tolerate hearing the trans­
ference interpreted; and this depends on the analyst's having
made it tolerable through what is effectively redescription. One
can learn from experience, but one cannot be taught by it.
But is this receptor-organ-referred to by Bion apparently
without irony-an acquired characteristic, so to speak? Does
the analyst learn how to have it, or learn how to use it? Despite
the prevalence of a certain kind of pedagogical analogy in Bion' s
work-an emphasis on "learning from experience, " to use his
title, with its teleology of accumulation-this organ is not, in
any obvious sense, a "method" of interpretation. It is a state of
mind as act of faith; just as for Winnicott-in a paradox that
easily becomes a mystifcation-there can be learning in psy­
choanalysis, but there must not be teaching. "I never use long
sentences, " Winnicott writes vis-a-vis interpretation, "unless I
am very tired. If I am near exhaustion point I begin teaching. "
But he interprets because "if I make none the patient gets the
impression that I understand everything. " 6 To become the
teacher is to be seduced by the transference, and so to teach is
to seduce. And of course, if one understands everything there
is no one to teach. But those-like Bion and Winnicott-who
are most impressed by the pre-oedipal mother in psychoanalysis
are always poised in their writing between an extreme authori­
tativeness and an absolute skepticism, between having some­
thing to teach, and only being supposed to know; between
omniscience and its identical opposite.
"So much depends, " Winnicott wrote in a book he did not
Playing Mothers
¯
107 -
live to entitle Human Nature, "on the way the mother holds the
baby, and let it be emphasised that this is not something that
can be taught. " And yet holding, as he observed it in mothers,
was a virtual definition for Winnicott of the psychoanalytic
process; whether it be through the analyst's maintaining the
reliability and resilience of the setting, through interpretation,
or both. "A correct and well-timed interpretation, " he writes
in Human Nature, "in an analytic treatment gives a sense of
being held physically that is more real (to the non-psychotic)
than if a real holding or nursing had taken place. " 7 There is, in
other words, a contradiction that immediately confronts the
analyst who begins to model himself-to take his lead from or
use as formative precursor-the pre-oedipal mother. What one
learns from this mother-from observing her-is something
that cannot be taught. The return is a cul-de-sac. There is no
beginning, only the analysis of the fantasies of beginnings, of
their wishful improvisation. It is as though, for the analyst, in
practice there are two temptations, two extremes: identifcation
either as caricature, playing mothers, or as the willing victim
of an open transference; either guru or blank page.
It is not surprising that, faced with the impasse of the pre­
oedipal mother, Bion and Winnicott promote, in different
ways, the value of not-knowing in the analyst. Because the one
who apparently knows at the deepest level, but perhaps without
having been taught, is the pre-oedipal mother, the sphinx with­
out a riddle. When the psychoanalytic theorist becomes wary
of his omniscience he tends to make a fetish of "not knowing. "
"In short, " Bion writes, "there is an inexhaustible fund of igno­
rance to draw upon-it is about all we do have to draw upon. " 8
The skeptic always boasts.
If, in psychoanalysis, the method is inspiring but the for­
mulated aims are by definition spurious, what are we left with
if the analyst is mother? Psychic progress along developmental
lines (Anna Freud) ; the secure internalization of the good object
(Klein); achievement, however precarious, of the Depressive
Position (Klein and Bion) ; a virtual True Self destiny (Win­
nicott) . There is, I think, an inevitable connection between the
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
-
1 08
-
analyst already in position as the mother-and especially the
pre-oedipal mother-and psychoanalysis as the coercion or
simulation of normality. And this is the situation, traditionally,
when Dionysos arrives. 9
Using a fantasy about mothers-about the beginning-to
foreclose the transference turns psychoanalysis into perversion,
perversion in the only meaningful sense of the term: knowing
too exactly what one wants, the disavowal of contingency,
omniscience as the cheating of time; the mother who, because
she knows what's best for us, has nothing to offer.
- 1 1
Psychoanalysis and Idolatry
Abraham falls victim to the following illusion: he cannot
stand the uniformity of this world. Now the world is
known, however, to be uncommonly various, which
can be verified at any time by taking a handful of world
and looking at it closely. Thus this complaint at the
uniformity of the world is really a complaint at not hav­
ing been mixed profoundly enough with the diversity
of the world.
Franz Kafka, Parables and Paradoxes
Anyone who goes to the Freud museum is immediately struck
by Freud's collection of antiquities, and particularly, perhaps,
by the forest of figurines from various cultures, on Freud's
desk. Freud, as the analyst, would sit overseeing them as he
listened to the patient from behind the couch; and the patient
lying on the couch could see them by turning to the right but
could not, of course, see Freud. In the frst psychoanalytic set­
ting-the paradigm of every psychoanalytic consulting room­
the patient could not see the analyst but could see his idols.
Clearly, for many reasons, entering Freud's consulting
room would have been an unusual experience; the Wolf-man
was reminded, he wrote, "not of a doctor's offce but rather of
an archaeological study. Here were all kinds of statuettes and
other unusual objects which even the layman recognised as
archaeological fi nds from ancient Egypt. " 1 Psychoanalysis, of
course, always takes place in a museum-and for the more
idolatrous, usually in the Freud museum-but the museum, the
stored past, comes to life in language and loses its fi xity.
Hans Sachs, one of the early members of Freud' s Wednes­
day Psychological Society in Vienna, recalls in his memoir how
"under the silent stare of idols and animal-shaped gods we lis­
tened to some new article by Freud, or read and discussed our
own products, or just talked about things that interested us. " 2
ON KISSING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 1 10 -
Presumably, the irony of the situation was not lost on them.
And since Jewish thought, by definition, sets itself against
idolatry, we should take this as one of the important scenes in
the history of psychoanalysis: a group of Jewish men, in a room
' full of idols, having a new kind of conversation about sexuality.
Even though they thought of themselves as secular Jews, it was
the equivalent of putting a moustache on the Mona Usa. It was
a critique of traditional forms of reverence; because to talk about
sexuality, from a psychoanalytic point of view, was to t
a
lk
about the nature of belief As the conventions of love poetry
have always insisted, it is in our erotic life that we return, so
to speak, to idolatry. And our erotic life-as psychoanalysis
would reveal in quite unexpected ways-is intimately con­
nected to our acquisitive, materialistic life.
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, in the major
European capitals, it was possible to purchase gods. "The
ancient gods still exist, " Freud wrote to his friend Fliess in 1 899,
"for I have bought one or two lately, am

ng them a stone
Janus, who looks down on me with his two faces in a very
superior fashion. " 3 You know the goqs still exist, Freud jokes,
because you can buy , them. They. have ' b
e
come a new kind of
commodity, just as the personal past was hecoming something
one could buy in the form of psychoanalysis. Certainly, recent
archaeological discoveries had given vivid form to the idea that
the dead do not disappear. And Janus, we may remember, the
Roman god of gods, was the opener and closer of all things,
who looked inward and outward, before and after; a pertinent
god to have acquired given Freud's newfound preoccupations
at the turn of the century.
It is, of course, tendentious to refer to what Freud called
his "grubby old gods" as idols. In his collection of more than
two thousand pieces there were many representations of deities,
but Freud did not worship them. He simply collected them
with some relish and obviously prized them very highly;
although it would not be wildly speculative, from a psycho­
analytic point of view, to infer that there were powerful uncon­
scious identifications at work both with the people who had
Psychoanalysis and Idolatry
- 1 1 1 -
worshipped them and the people who had found them. If, as
has been suggested, they also represented his family romance­
his wishful allegiance to alternative cultures-then they were
also a rather grandiose parody of the idea. It would not be a
fmily romance that could' contain Greek, Roman, Egyptian,
Near Eastern, and Asian members, so much as a world-histor­
ical romance. "I have made many sacrifices, " he writes to
Stephan Zweig, and it is a telling phrase, "for my collection of
Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities, and actually have read
more archaeology than psychology. " 4 He couldn't, of course,
have had comparable Jewish antiquities, because there could be
no such thing.
It is an irony, then, of some interest that psychoanalysis­
in which only words and money are exchanged, in which no
graven images are used, and which is carried out in an atmos­
phere of relative abstinence-had its beginnings in a setting
populated by old ..gods. Freud's consulting room, in other
words, was a rather vivid representation of an old dilemma:
How many gods if any, and what are they for? None of Freud's
antiquities were kept in his living quarters. So what was Freud
telling his patients and himself by displaying his collection in
the rooms where he practiced psychoanalysis, a theory and a
therapy that was consistently an impassioned critique of reli­
gious belief? Certainly these antiquities in a Jewish doctor's
consulting room articulated two things about culture, which
had interesting implications for the new science of psycho­
analysis. First, that culture was history, and that this history,
which was of extraordinary duration, could be preserved and
thought about. The present could be a cover story for the past.
And second-and more threatening to the monotheism of a
putatively chosen people-that culture was plural. These figu­
rines from such diverse cultures, which represented what Freud
called "the splendid diversity of human life, " "the varied types
of perfection, " might suggest that the only viable notion of
True Belief was of something local, provisional, and various.
The figurines underlined the fact that there are all sorts of cultural
conventions and worlds elsewhere, as many as can be found.
ON KIS S ING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 1 1 2 -
Much has been made of Freud, rightly, as a post-Enlighten­
ment man of his time, committed ,to progress under the aegis
of science, and to a critique of religion as enslavement through
superstition. Freud was convinced that cultures, like individuals,
developed from infantile, primitive magic to mature rational
science, insofar as they were able to. What is less often spelled
out is that Freud was obsessed by the notion of belief Both
magic and science, hysteria and common human unhappiness,
delusion and psychoanalytic theory, he began tq realize, could
be described as questions of belief As Freud famously wrote in
his conclusion to the Schreber case: " It remains for the future
to decide whether there is more delusion in my theory than I
should like to admit, or whether there is more truth in Schreber's
delusion that other people are yet able to believe. " 5 The psycho­
analytic question becomes not, Is that true? but What in your
personal history disposes you_ to believe that? And that, of
course, could be psychoanalytic theory. In other words, from
a psychoanalytic point of view, belief changes from being a
question about the qualities of the object of belief, to a question
about the history of the subject, the believer. What is the uncon­
scious problem that your belief solves for you, or the wishes
that it satisfies? In therapy it is always an interesting question
to ask someone in a state of conviction, What kind of person
would you be if you no longer believed that? A symptom, of
course, is always a state of conviction.
Despite Freud's endless disclaimers-his descriptions of
himself, in one form or another, as a "godless Jew" -in his
work the Jewish boundary, if I can put it like that, between
idolatry and something else we might call True Belief, was
recontested. The distinction that had organized Judaism became
blurred as Freud used psychoanalysis to redescribe the roots of
belief.
It makes sense to preserve faulty points of view for pos­
sible future use.
Paul Feyerabend, Farewell to Reason
Psychoanalysis and Idolatry
- 1 1 3 -
Freud's preoccupation with Moses is obviously relevant in this
context (there are, incidentally, only two references to Aaron
in Freud's work, one of which is a quotation from Eduard
Meyer in a footnote, and neither of which even alludes to the
Golden Calf) . His interest in Moses, as many people have
pointed out, was based in part on his identification with him
both as an interpreter and as an abolisher of idols. In his first
study of the patriarch, The Moses of Michelangelo ( 1 914) , Freud
tries to describe his internal reactions to the Moses idolized, so
to speak, in Michelangelo' s famous sculpture: "In 1 913, through
three lonely September weeks, I stood daily in the church in
front of the statue, studied it, measured it, drew it, until that
understanding came to me that I only dared to express anony­
mously in the paper. " 6 There is, of course, a certain irony in
Freud's devotion to this idol, in Rome, of a man whose project
was the destruction of idolatry. When Ernest Jones went to
Rome in 1 91 3 Freud wrote to him: "I envy you for seeing Rome
so soon and so early in life. Bring my deepest devotion to
Moses and write me about him. " Jones replied obediently: "My
frst pilgrimage the day after my arrival
,
wa�/ to' con�ey your
greetings to Moses, and L think he unbent a little from his
haughtiness. " 7 It is not obvious whom the joke was on.
But Freud was drawn irresistibly to this statue partly to
understand why he was so drawn to it; why, that is to say, he
seemed, quite unconsciously, . to have made it into an id01: "No
piece of statuary, " he wrote in his essay,
has ever made . a stronger impression on .me Jhan this.
How often have I mounted the steep steps Qf the uplovely
Corso Cavour to the lonely place where· the deserted
church stands, and have essayed to support the angry
scorn of the hero'

glance. Sometimes I hav

crept cauti­
ously out of the half-gloom of the interior as though I
myself belonged to the mob upon whom his eye is
turned-the mob which can hold fast no conviction,
which has neither faith nor patience and which rejoices
when it has regained its illusory idols. 8
/
ON KIS SING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 1 14 -
Freud, in this curious scene, half-identifies with the idolaters,
the "mob, " as he calls them contemptuously, which has "neither
faith nor patience. " Freud may be guilty of abandoning the
religion of his fathers, but that wouldn't necessariiy place him,
a man of science, in Aaron's party, hiving to withstand "the
angry scorn df the hero's glance. " In this context perhaps, if
you are not a Jew you are an idolater, but what are Freud's
"illusory idols" that he creeps cautiously out of the church to
return to? It would be glib simply to say that his idols are now
Science and Psychoanalysis; but it is his psychoanalytic method
that he returns to and uses to understand what we might call
his transference to Michelangelo's Moses. And his interpretation
of the statue, which his essay explains, is particularly interesting
in the light of these considerations.
Freud is preoccupied by two things about Michelangelo's
Moses. First, what is Moses' mood, the state of mind that
Michelangelo has tried to represent? And second, at what point
in the story is Moses portrayed? Reviewing the evidence of
previous scholars, Freud begins by accepting what was then the
traditional interpretation of the statue-Michelangelo shows
Moses at the moment when he first sees his people worshipping
the Golden Calf, the moment just before his rage. But then
Freud, after his own analysis, comes up with an alternative
construction. Actually, he proposes, the artist has shown Moses
afer his rage, in a state of recovery; that is, after the idolatry of
his people has to be included in the story: mt the moment of
discovery, but the immediate period of realization. And this,
Freud says, is what is so compelling for him about Moses: "What
we see before us is not the inception of a violent action, but
the remains of a movement that has already taken place. In his
first transport of fury Moses desired to a't, t' spring up and
, , \
take vengeance and forget the Tah,les; but' he,has overcome the
temptation, and he will now rqnaiQ seated �nd still in his frozen
wrath and in his ' pain miiIgled with contempt. " 9 If Freud, in
this hi

ly charged scenario, fnds himself identifying with
the idolatrous mob, he also admires Moses because of his self­
control. He is an object of emulation for Freud because he
Psychoanalysis and Idolatry
- 1 1 5 -
does not take quick revenge on the idolaters; he suffers their
difference.
This essay of Freud's, written in 1 91 3, clearly also refers
implicitly to C. G. Jung's defection; ironically, in this parallel
Jung becomes the idolater, fleeing from Freud's devotion, so
to speak, to sexuality. But the essay also has an intrapsychic
signifcance that tells us something about Freud himself. It
describes an internal configuration that is dramatized through­
out Freud's work. That is to say, a relationship is described
between an inner authority that organizes and defnes, and a
less developed, nonheroic, idolatrous mob that is impatient and
unwilling to believe in the hero. The mob is skeptical and res­
tive, and the hero has conviction. The hero, from the mob' s
point of view, is excessively demanding; the mob, from the
hero' s point of view, is immature, especially in its impatience.
A misleadingly neat set of equations suggests itself: Moses as
the superego, Aaron as the ego, and the idolatrous mob as the
id. In Freud's redescription of Exodus, idolatry is infantile; it
signifes a failure of renunciation. But Freud's interpretation of
Michelangelo's Moses suggests that Freud is trying to contain­
to keep alive in himself-the relationship between the Moses
figure and the idolaters.
Returning to Moses twenty years later in his weird and
wonderful book Moses and Monotheism, Freud gives final form
to the possible virtues-the developmental achievement-that
in his view distinguish Moses and his religion from what he con­
temptuously calls the "mob. " In crude terms it is fair to say
that Freud reduces all religious belief to the longing for the
father: "A child's earliest years, " he writes, "are dominated by
an enormous overvaluation of his father, " and this gets transfer­
red on to a deity. 10 But in Moses and Monotheism we find-amid
much fascinating and bizarre speculation-both an enthusiastic
defense of monotheism and a profound ambivalence toward it.
And this ambivalence reflects the child's ambivalence about both
the father and the religion of the fathers, but also Freud's
ambivalence about the version of adulthood generated by
psy­
choanalysis.
ON KI S SING, TICKLING, AND BEING BORED
- 1 1 6 -
Monotheism, for example-which he explicitly links with
imperialism-in Freud's view produces
.
intoleranct. "Along
with the belief in a single god, " he writes, "religious intolerance
was inevitably born, which had previ�sly been alien to the
ancient world- and remained SO long afterwards. " 11 There is
clearly an idealization of the ancient wodd here, but it is
nevertheless worth bearing in mind that in what Freud calls the
"ancient world" there were a large number of deities of both
sexes, and that the gods of the classical ancient world were
hedonists. And this point is not incidental, because for Freud,
in Moses and Monotheism, monotheism seems to represent a
triumph of the mind, or what Freud calls the "intellect , " over
the body. And this, Freud tries to say, but with considerable
misgivings, is its great virtue. "For various reasons, " he appar­
ently once remarked to Ernest Jones, "the Jews have under­
gone a one-sided development and admire brains more than
bodies. "
12
In what may now seem to us to be a questionable distinc­
tion, it is as if the body produces and worships idols, and the
intellect produces the sublimated rigors of monotheism, what
Freud calls the "heights of sublime abstraction. " On the one
hand he criticizes monotheism for its intolerance of other peo­
ple, and on the other hand he praises it for its intolerance of
the body. There is bodily clamor, and there is restraint. And
for those like Moses and other chosen people who have man­
aged what Freud calls this ",triumph of intellectuality over sen­
suality" -this abstinence-th

re is one rather dubious reward.
"All such advances in intellectuality, " he writes, "have as their
consequence that the individual's self-esteem is increased, that
he is made proud-so that he feels superior to other people who
have remained under the spell of sensuality. " Now it is children,
of course
-
whom Freud places in his alarming nineteenth-cen­
tury category with women, neurotics, and "primitive races"­
who remain under the spell of sensuality. 13 It is they who are
prone to idolatry; but by the same token, in Freud's terms, they
do not get their sexual excitement from feeling superior to other
people.
Psychoanalysis and Idolatry
¯ 1 1 7 -
A believer is bound to the teachings of religion by certain
ties of affection.
Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Ilusion
From a psychoanalytic point of view, to talk about religion and
to talk about sexuality are to talk about childhood. And child­
hood begins, at least, "under the spell of sensuality. " Through­
out his writings Freud is extremely interested in this spell-both
in how resilient it was, and in what broke it, or rather, modified
it. Like adults in analysis, and for the same reasons, children
were seen to be extremely resistant when it came to relinquish­
ing pleasures. In his late essay "Analysis Terminable and Inter­
minable" (1 937)-one that is markedly skeptical about the
therapeutic efficacy of psychoanalysis-Freud offers as an
example telling children the so-called facts of life:
After such enlightenment, children know something that
they did not know before, but they make no use of the
new knowledge that has been presented to them. We
come to see that they are not even in so great a hurry to
sacrifice for this new knowledge the sexual theories
which might be described as a natural growth and which
they have constructed in harmony with, and dependence
on, their imperfect libidinal organisation-theories
about the part played by the stork, about the nature of
sexual intercourse and about the way in which babies are
made. For a long time after they have been given sexual
enlightenment they behave like primitive races who have
had Christianity thrust upon them and who continue to
worship their idols in secret. 1 4
It is surely one of Freud's greatest contributions to have multi­
plied the possibilities for irony. Once again we find here com­
plicated and ironic identifications at work. In what sense, for
example, are the facts of life-the scientific facts of life-like
Christianity? Freud made no secret of his views about Chris­
tianity-and particularly his contempt for Catholicism-and
yet, albeit figuratively, Christianity is being used here to repre­
sent the truth about sex. It is not clear whether this is a parody
O N KI S S I NG, T I CKL I NG, AND B E I NG B ORE D
- 1 1 8 -
of Truth or of Christianity. And the history, which Freud knew
only too well, made it abundantly obvious that it wasn't only
"primitive races" that Christians had wanted to convert; they
had wanted to convert the Jews, who were, of course, notorious
in anti-Semitic propaganda for their sexual preoccupations. If
Freud is showing us, in this example, the confict between
Christianity and infantile sexuality, then we need to remember
that Freud thought of himself as the discoverer of infantile sex­
uality, of the signifcance of infantile sexual theories in adult
life; and that his work was, among many other things, a ferce
critique of Christianity.
Children, he writes here, confronted with the Truth,
"make no use of the new knowledge" but "continue to worship
their idols in secret. " And their idols are theories; like psycho­
analysis, theories about sexuality. Freud, in this example, as a
man of science must, ironically, side with the Christian mis­
sionaries; but his sympathies are manifestly with the refusal by
the idolatrous children, whose sexual theories he refers to as a
"natural growth. " In other words, we fnd once again in Freud,
as we did in his accounts of Moses, the generosity of a split
identifcation. He has internalized the ancient Jewish struggle
between idolatry and True Belief; and in each of these instances
True Belief involves submission to a more powerful authority.
The truth becomes something we give in to, something with
which we have a sadomasochistic relationship.
In The Future of an Ilusion ( 1927), his most sustained inves­
tigation into the personal origins of religious belief, Freud
defines religious ideas as "teachings and assertions about facts
and conditions of external (or internal) reality which tells one
something one has not discovered for oneself and which lay
claim to one's belief" Religious ideas, in other words, are
imposed, not found. And clearly, as always in Freud's writing,
there is an implicit parallel being drawn with psychoanalytic
ideas; the question being not, Are they true? but Why do you
believe them? Children, as in the previous example, discover
their sexual theories for themselves, according to their develop­
mental capacity; the adults don't inform them that one makes
Psychoanalysis and Idolatry
-
1 1
9 -
babies by kissing. A distinction is being made here by Freud
that we are more familiar with from later object-relations
theory; that is, the distinction between an object that can be
found, and an object that is forced upon us. And pleasure, we
should remember in this context, unlike pain, cannot be forced
upon us.
Freud asks-in the sometimes reductive generalizations in
The Future of an Illusion-what kind of objects are religious
beliefs, and what are they used for? And he answers that they
are paternal objects, which we invest with power and authority
to console us for our original and pervasive helplessness. In fact,
in Freud's terms, we don't believe, we wish; and above all we
wish to believe. Because of our formative helplessness, every
belief, we think, protects us from something. And in this sense
a belief, for Freud, is like a symptom; we imagine that a catas­
trophe will ensue if we relinquish it. And again, like a symp­
tom, religious belief, Freud says, is a way of not leaving home.
Anyone who has been able to relinquish what he calls the "reli­
gious illusion" will "be in the same position as a child who has
left the parental house where he is so warm and comfortable
. . . Men cannot remain children for ever; they must in the end
go out into hostile life. We may call this 'education to reality. ' " 15
Reality, we must infer from this, is that which cannot be wish­
fully improved; something we could, perhaps, call Nature. 1 6
For Freud, it is the element of wish-fulfillment that makes
all religious belief a childish illusion. Something called "reality"
now flls the space that was once inhabited by the monotheism
of Moses. And this reality is ineluctable, like death; all belief is
now idolatry, and idolatry is an anaesthetic. The believer, Freud
insists, is like an addict, and "the effect of religious consolations
may be likened to that of a narcotic, " a "sleeping draught. "
Religion is simply an elaborate acknowledgment of what Freud
calls "the perplexity and helplessness of the human race, " but
it is a "bitter-sweet poison. " 17 It is all very simple. The child
believes in the father-although exactly what the child believes
about the father is not spelled out-and the adult, in the same
way, believes in his god because he is too frightened to grow
ON KISSI NG, TICKLI NG, AND BEING BORED
- 1 20 -
up. But why is Freud, as many people have noticed, when he
tells his own story about religion, so unusually, indeed exces­
sively, hostile to it? If it is so obvious what Religion, in the
abstract, really is, why does he have to keep telling us? He
disparages religious belief in a way that he has taught us to
interpret; so we can ask a simple question: What is the doubt
he is trying to stifle by his overinsistent critique?
One of the doubts, I think, was that he was talking not
only about religion. About two-thirds of the way through The
Future of an Illusion Freud begins to realize that he may be using
religion as a pretext to talk about belief And this had interesting
implications for psychoanalysis, because Freud had developed
a treatment that made use of this infantile capacity for belief
Transference, afer all, is a form of secular idolatry. Just as
Freud was manifestly uncertain as to what there was beyond
transference, so he begins to doubt, again, in The Future of an
Illusion, whether there is any essential or discernible difference
between idolatry and true belief, and whether any area of our
lives can be anything other than what he calls illusion. "May
not other cultural assets, " he writes, "of which we hold a high
opinion and by which we let our lives be ruled be of a similar
nature? Must not the assumptions that determine our political
regulations be called illusions as well? And is it not the case that
in our civilisation the relations between the sexes are disturbed
by an erotic illusion or a number of such illusions?" 18 And what
of psychoanalysis itself, which Freud noticeably fails to men­
tion, but of which he, and some of us, hold a high opinion even
if we don't let our lives be ruled by it?
Through psychoanalysis Freud suddenly seems to have col­
lapsed the traditional opposition between idolatry and true
belief. And he had certainly, of course, described an uncon­
scious that was the antithesis of an idol, that could not be wor­
shipped and should not be idealized. If all belief is idolatory,
and even Moses was childish, what then is the alternative? And
the answer, Freud states emphatically, in the conclusion to The
Future of an Illusion, is science; because in science, unlike our
wishful illusions, our beliefs are subject to correction. This
Psychoanalysis and Idolatry
- 121 -
could, of course, be the most ironic wish of all; a wish that our
wishes be correctable. But from one of Freud's many points of
view, potential objects of belief were to be replaced by a method
of inquiry into the personal history of belief
The analyst, Lacan says, is the one who is supposed to
know, but it is a false belief So we are left with a paradox that
is integral to our present subject. With the discovery of transfer­
ence Freud evolved what could be called a cure by idolatry; in
fact, potentially, a cure of idolatry, through idolatry. But the
one thing psychoanalysis cannot cure, when it works, is belief
in psychoanalysis. And that is a problem.
Notes
Introduction
l . Sigmund Freud, Studies on Hysteria, with Josef Breuer, The Standard
Edition ofthe Complete Psychological Works ofSigmund Freud, 24 vols. ,
ed. James Strachey, trans. in collaboration with Anna Freud (London:
Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1 953-1974;
hereafter cited as Freud, SE) , 11, p. 305.
2. See Pragmatism's Freud: The Moral Disposition of Psychoanalysis, ed.
Joseph H. Smith and William Kerrigan (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1 986) , p. 7.
3. W. H. Auden, The Dyer's Hand (London: Faber, 1 963), p. 6.
4. Adam Zagajewski, "Ode to Plurality, " in Tremor: Selected Poems (New
York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1 985) . For a brilliant discussion of
psychoanalysis as an oppressively coercive reading of a putative human
subject see Mark Edmundson, Towards Reading Freud (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1 990).
1 . On Tickling
1 . For an explanation of Winnicott's concept of holding, see page 44.
2. Freud, Three Essays on the Theory ofSexuality, SE VII, p. 1 83.
2. First Hates
l . William James, Psychology: The Briejr Course, ed. Gordon Allport
(Notre Dame, Ind. : University of Notre Dame Press, 1 985) , p. 275.
2. Ibid. , p. 281 .
3. Ibid. , p. 279.
4. William James, Pragmatism (Cambridge, Mass . : Harvard University
Press, 1 975), pp. 281 , 98.
5. See Andre Green, "Passions and Their Vicissitudes, " in On Private
Madness (London: Hogarth Press, 1 986), pp. 21 4-253.
6. William James, Talks on Psychology and Lif's Ideals (London:
Longman's, 1 899), p. 264.
7. Freud, Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety, SE XX, p. 1 68.
8. Ibid. , p. 1 90.
9. Quoted in Drawings by Bonnard (London: Arts Council of Great Britain
Publications, 1 984), p. 16.
NOTES TO P AGES 22 - 38
- 1 24 -
10. See Julia Kristeva, "Something to Be Scared of" in Powers ofHorror
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1 982), pp. 32-55.
1 1 . Roger Money-K yrle, The Collected Papers ofMoney-Kyrle (Perthshire:
Clunie Press, 1 978), p. 60.
1 2. Donald Davidson, "Paradoxes of Irrationality, " in Philosophical Essays
on Freud, ed. R. Wollheim and J. Hopkins (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1 982) , p. 303.
1 3. Freud, "Negation, " SE XIX, p. 237; idem, "Instincts and Their
Vicissitudes, " SE XIV, p. 1 36.
3. On Risk and Solitude
1 . Freud, Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, SE XVI, p. 407.
2. Ibid. , p. 399.
3. Ibid. , SE XV, p. 1 53.
4. Jacques Lacan, "The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of
Its Power, " in Ecrits (London: Tavistock, 1 977), p. 254.
5. Letter to Charles Cotton from his patron Lord Halifax, in Montaigne's
Essays, trans. Charles Cotton (London: Ward Lock, 1 700) , p. 5.
6. Iris Murdoch, Sartre (London: Chatto & Windus, 1 987) , pp. 36-37.
7. D. W. Winnicott, Deprivation and Delinquency (London: Tavistock,
1 984), p. 1 47.
8. Ibid.
9. D. W. Winnicott, "Primitive Emotional Development, " in Through
Paediatrics to Psychoanalysis (London: Hogarth Press, 1 975) , p. 1 52.
10. Stephen Mitchell, Relational Concepts i n Psychoanalysis (Cambridge,
Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1 988) , p. 32.
1 1 . D. W. Winnicott, "Psychoanalysis and the Sense of Guilt, " The
Naturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment (London: Hogarth
Press, 1 965) , p. 1 5. For discussion of the morality of object-relations
theory, see Adam Phillips, "Besides Good and Evil , " Winnicott Studies
6 ( 1991) , 14-19.
12. Winnicott, "Psychoanalysis and the Sense of Guilt, " pp. 23-24.
13. Ibid. , p. 24.
14. Ibid. , p. 26; Oxford English Dictionary, s. v.
15. Winnicott, "Psychoanalysis and the Sense of Guilt, " p. 26.
16. Ibid.
1 7. D. W. Winnicott, "The Use of an Object, " in Playing and Reality
(London: Tavistock, 1 971 ) , p. 106. For illuminating contemporary
discussion of the making real-the discovery of the subjectivity-of
the object, see in particular Emmanuel Ghent, "Masochism, Submis­
sion, Surrendbr, " Contemporary Psychoanalysis 26, no. 1 Oanuary 1 990),
108-136; and Jessica Benjamin, The Bonds ofLove (New York: Pan­
theon Books, 1 988) .
NOTES TO P AGES 39 - 60
- 1 25 -
18. Winnicott, "Psychoanalysis and the Sense of Guilt, " p. 26
19. Maurice Blanchot, "The Essential Solitude, " in The Gaze ofOrpheus,
trans. Lydia Davis (Barrytown, N. Y. : Station Hill Press, 1 981 ) ,
pp. 63-77.
20. Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1 982), p. 201 .
21 . Masud Khan, "Infancy, Aloneness, and Madness, " in Hidden Selves
(London: Hogarth Press, 1 983), p. 1 81 .
4. On Composure
1 . Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, SE XVIII, p. 27.
2. See Jean Laplanche, Lif and Death in Psychoanalysis (Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins Press, 1 976) .
3. D. W. Winnicott, "The Mind and Its Relation to the Psyche-Soma, "
in Through Paediatrics to Psychoanalysis (London: Hogarth Press, 1 975) ,
p. 244.
4. Ibid. , p. 246.
5. Ibid.
6. Georg Groddeck, The Unknown Self (London: Vision Press, 1 951 ) ,
p. 46. Lacan's mirror-stage i s pertinent here. I take the child's delight
at seeing itself cohere in a mirror image as a reaction-formation to
deal with the terror of seeing itself unified into an image and ripe for
naming. The child has a fear, as well as a wish, of being collected into
a parcel and made ready to be passed around.
5. Worrying and Its Discontents
1 . See Wilfred Bion, Seven Servants (New York: Jason Aronson, 1 977) .
2. D. W. Winnicott, Deprivation and Delinquency (London: Tavistock,
1 984), pp. 1 26, 1 28.
3. Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, SE XVIII, p. 32.
4. Freud, The Unconscious, SE XIV, p. 1 86.
5. See Rodney Needham, Belief, Lang
'
lage and Experience (Oxford:
Blackwell, 1 972) .
6. Returing the Dream
1 . Freud, Female Sexuality, SE XXI, p. 231 .
2 . D. W. Winnicott, "Communicating and Not Communicating Leading
to a Study of Certain Opposites, " in The Maturational Processes and the
Facilitating Environment (London: Hogarth Press, 1 965) , p. 1 87.
3. Masud Khan, The Privacy ofthe Self (London: Hogarth Press, 1 974),
p. 304.
NOT E S T O P AGE S, (1 - 75
-
1 26
-
4. Masud Khan, Alienation in Perversions (London: Hogarth Press, 1 979) ,
p. 213.
5. Ibid. , p. 214.
6. Freud, quoted in ]. -B. Pontalis, Frontiers in Psychoanalysis (London:
Hogarth Press, 1 981 ) , p. 33.
7. Masud Khan, "Dream Psychology and the Evolution of the
Psychoanalytic Situation, " in The Privacy ofthe Self, pp. 27-41 ; idem,
"The Use and Abuse of Dream in Psychic Experience, " ibid. , pp.
306-31 5; idem, "Beyond the Dreaming Experience, " in Hidden Selves
(London: Hogarth Press, 1 983), pp. 42-50.
8. Khan, "Dream Psychology, " p. 29.
9. Masud Khan, "Infancy, Aloneness, and Madness, " in Hidden Selves
(London: Hogarth Press, 1 983), p. 1 81 ; Pontalis, Frontiers, p. 33.
10. Khan, "Use and Abuse of Dream, " p. 305.
1 1 . Vincent Descombes, Objects ofAll Sorts (Oxford: Blackwell, 1 985) , p.
28.
1 2. Khan, "Beyond the Dreaming Experience, " p. 50.
13. Ibid. , p. 46.
14. Quoted in Khan, "Beyond the Dreaming Experience, " p. 45.
15. Khan, "Dream Psychology, " p. 40.
1 6. Khan, "Use and Abuse of Dream, " p. 315.
17. Khan, "Beyond the Dreaming Experience, " p. 49.
18. Khan, Alienation in Perversions, p. 9.
1 9. Marion Milner, The Hands ofthe Living God (London: Virago, 1 988),
p. xxxi.
20. Khan, "Beyond the Dreaming Experience, " p. 49.
21 . Ibid. , p. 1 83.
22. John Wisdom, Philosophy and Psychoanalysis (Oxford: Blackwell,
1 953) , p. 1 67. For an account of the relationship between acknowledg­
ment and nonappropriation, see Christopher Benfey's brilliant Emily
Dickinson and the Problem of Others (Amherst: University of Mas­
sachusetts Press, 1 984) .
7. On Being Bored
1 . Freud, Mourning and Melancholia, SE XIV, pp. 245-246.
2. D. W. Winnicott, "The Observation of Infants in a Set Situation, " in
Through Paediatrics to Psychoanalysis (London: Hogarth Press, 1 975) ,
pp. 52-53, 66.
3. Ibid. , pp. 53-54.
4. Ibid. , pp. 58-59.
5. In D. W. Winnicott, Deprivation and Delinquency (London: Tavistock,
1 984) , pp. 1 20-131 .
NOTES TO P AGES 7 5 - 9 2
- 1 27 -
6. See Melanie Klein, "Notes on Some Schizoid Mechanisms, " in The
Selected Melanie Klein, ed. Juliet Mitchell (Harmondsworth: Penguin,
1 986), pp. 1 76-200.
7. See Jean Laplanche, Life and Death in Psychoanalysis (Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins Press, 1 976).
8. Freud, "Fetishism, " SE XXI, p. 1 54.
9. See Joyce McDougall, Plea for a Measure ofAbnormality (New York:
International Universities Press, 1 980), for an extended discussion of
the uses of fetishism to disavow meaning and perception.
10. Christopher Bollas, "The Transformational Object, " in The Shadow
of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known (London: Free
Associations, 1 987), p. 14.
1 1 . Marcel Proust, Swann's Way, trans. Terence Kilmartin (London:
Hogarth Press, 1 981 ) , pp. 47-48.
8. Looking at Obstacles
1 . Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, trans. Hazel E. Barnes (Lon­
don: Methuen, 1 957), p. 488.
2. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions, trans. J. M. Cohen (Har­
mondsworth: Penguin, 1 953) , p. 45.
3. Freud, Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, SE VIII, p. 1 01 .
4. Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove, trans. Terence Kilmartin (Lon­
don: Hogarth Press, 1981) , bk. 1 , p. 621 .
5 . Sandor Ferenczi and Otto Rank, The Development ofPsycho-Analysis,
trans. Newton (New York: International Universities Press, 1 986),
p. 1 5.
6. Freud, "Fetishism, " SE XXI, p. 1 55.
7. Victor Smirnof, Psychoanalysis in France, ed. D. Widlocher and S.
Lebovici (New York: International Universities Press, 1 980), p. 324.
8. Freud, "Fetishism, " p. 1 54.
9. Ibid. , p. 1 56. It may be more useful, for example, to talk oflink envy
as well as, or instead of, penis envy, children of both sexes envying
the parents' unique capacity for connection with and access to each
other via the genitals.
10. D. W. Winnicott, "Transitional Objects and Transitional Phe­
nomena, " in Through Paediatrics to Psychoanalysis (London: Hogarth
Press, 1 975), pp. 233-234.
1 1 . Peter Winch, Simone Weil: "The Just Balance" (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1 989), p. 66.
12. Freud, The Unconscious, SE XIV, p. 1 86.
13. John Cage, For the Birds (London: Marion Boyers, 1 981 ) , p. 40.
NOTES . TO P AGES 93 - 1 08
- 1 28 -
9. Plotting for Kisses
1 . Sandor Ferenczi, Final Contributions to the Problems ofPsychoanalysis
(London: Hogarth Press, 1 955) , p. 219.
2. Freud, Analysis Terminable and Interminable, SE XXIII, p. 234.
3. D. W. Winnicott, Through Paedia
y
ics to Psychoanalysis (London:
Hogarth Press, 1 958), p. 41 .
4. Freud, Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, SE XVI, p. 322.
5. Bob Dylan, Lyrics 1 962-1 985 (London: Jonathan Cape, 1 987), p. 1 40.
6. Freud, Three Essays on the Theory ofSexuality, SE VII, p. 1 82.
7. Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melan

holy (London: ]. M. Dent,
1 932), p. 1 1 1 .
10. Playing Mothers
1 . D. W. Winnicott, Home Is Were We Start From (Harmondsworth:
Penguin, 1 987), p. 1 23.
2. In "The Origins of Transference, " for example, Klein writes: "The
comfort and care given after birth, particularly the first feeding experi­
ences, are felt to come from good forces" (Collected Papers, III [London:
Hogarth Press, 1 975], p. 239). These "good forces, " in the mother
and in the analyst as nonretaliatory object, are assumed to attenuate .
the "bad forces" of the Death Instinct.
3. Anna Freud, Normality and Pathology in Childhood (New York: Interna­
tional Universities Press, 1 965), p. 1 68.
4. See Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, Lacan: The Absolute Master (Stanford:
Stanford University Press, 1 991) , for a persuasive recent discussion of
the problem of identification vis-a-vis the putative aims of psycho­
analysis. See also Lionel Trilling, Freud and the Crisis ofOur Culture
(Boston: Beacon Press, 1 955), for a remarkably lucid and foresightful
discussion of Freud's sense of what was "beyond" culture. Ignacio
Matte-Blanco's Thinking, Feeling and Being (London: Routledge, 1 988)
must now be the canonical text for the relationship between identifi­
cation and unconscious categories in psychoanalytic theory.
5. Wilfred Bion, Second Thoughts (Northvale, N.]. : Jason Aronson,
1 967), p. 1 1 6.
6. D. W. Winnicott, The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environ­
ment (London: Hogarth Press, 1 972), p. 1 67.
7. D. W. Winnicott, Human Nature (London: Free Association Books,
1 988) , pp. 1 19, 62.
8. Wilfred Bion, Clinical Seminars and Four Papers (Abingdon: Fleetwood
Press, 1 987), p. 244.
9. The Bacchae of Euripides is the paradigmatic text, but see also Marcel
NOTES TO P AGES 1 09 - 1 2 0
- 1 29 -
Detienne's Dionysos c ciel ouvert (Paris: Hachette, 1 986), translated as
Dionysos at Large by Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, Mass. : Har­
vard University Press, 1 989) .
1 1 . Psychoanalysis and Idolatry
1 . Quoted in Peter Gay, Freud: A Lif fr Our Time (New York: W. W.
Norton, 1 988), pp. 1 70-1 71 .
2. Hans Sachs, Freud: Master and Friend (London: Imago, 1 945) , p. 80.
3. The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud and Wilhelm Fliess, trans. and
ed. Jeffrey Masson (Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press,
1 985) , p. 361 .
4. Gay, Freud, pp. 1 70-171 .
5. Freud, The Case ofSchreber, SE XII, p. 79.
6. Freud, The Moses ofMichelangelo, SE XIII, pp. 21 1 -240.
7. Quoted in Gay, Freud, pp. 314-31 5.
8. Freud, The Moses ofMichelangelo, p. 213.
9. Ibid. , p. 229.
10. See Freud, The Future ofan Illusion, SE XXI, pp. 5-58.
1 1 . Freud, Moses and Monotheism, SE XXIII, p. 50.
1 2. Quoted in Gay, Freud, p. 599.
13. Freud, Moses and Monotheism, p. 1 1 5.
14. Freud, "Analysis Terminable and Interminable, " SE XXIII, p. 234.
1 5. Freud, The Future ofan Illusion, p. 49.
16. For a gloss on the word Nature see Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1 990) .
17. Freud, The Future ofan Illusion, p. 49.
1 8. Ibid. , p. 34.
Credits
Earlier versions of five of the essays in this volume were pub­
lished in Raritan: "On Tickling, " 5, no. 4 (1 985) ; "First Hates:
Phobias in Theory, " 1 1 , no. 5 ( 1 992) ; "On Composure, " 6, no. 4
( 1 986) ; "Worrying and Its Discontents, " 9, no. 2 ( 1 989); and "On
Being Bored, " 6, no. 2 ( 1 986) . Earlier versions of seven essays
were published in Nouvelle Revue de Psychanalyse: "On Tick­
ling" (Spring 1 985) , "On Risk and Solitude" (Autumn 1 987) ,
"On Composure" (Autumn 1 985) , "Returning the Dream: In
Memoriam Masud Khan" (Autumn 1 989) , "On Being Bored"
(Autumn 1 986) , "Plotting for Kisses" (Autumn 1 987) , and "Play­
ing Mothers: Between Pedagogy and Transference" (Spring
1 992) . "Psychoanalysis and Idolatry" was published as "Freud's
Idols" in the London Review of Books, 27 September 1 990.
The following have kindly granted permission to print seg­
ments of poetry:
John Berryman, "Dream Song 14": Faber and Faber Ltd;
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Bob Dylan, "Dirge": Jonathan Cape Ltd.
W. S. Graham, "The Hill ofIntrusion": Nessie Graham
Ikkyu, Crow with No Mouth: Copper Canyon Press
Adam Zagajewski, "Ode to Plurality": CoBins HarviB
Index
Absence: of mothers, 27, 28-29, 32,
75-76, 91; boredom and, 74, 75; of
objects, 76, 78
Acknowledgment, 126n22
Adler, Alfred, 82
Adolescence, 33; objects and, 30-31 ;
risks of, 30, 31, 32; sexuality in, 30,
31, 53, 94, 95, 96; solitude in, 32;
worries and, 49; kissing and, 94, 95
Adorno, Theodor, 30
Adults and adulthood, 45, 49; tickling
of children, 9-10; risks of, 30, 78;
solitude in, 32; ruthlessness and, 39;
boredom and, 68, 69-70, 75, 78;
object seeking in, 77; desire and, 78;
kissing and, 95; infantile sexuality
and, 1 18; religious belief, 1 1 9-120
Aggression, 35, 54
Agoraphobia, 13-16
Aimlessness, 59, 60
All fr Love (Dryden), 51
Ambivalence, 1 15
Analogy, 48, 87; used in psychoanaly­
sis, 1 -3, 4, 5, 106
Anal stage, 6
"Analysis Terminable and Intermina-
ble" (Freud), 1 17
Anatomy of Melancholy (Burton), 10
Anticipation, 69, 84
Antisocialness, 75
Anxiety, 1 6, 18, 28, 43, 52-53, 96
Art and artists, 2, 3, 5, 36-37, 39-40,
1 13-1 14
Artaud, Antonin, 60
Association, 47, 55-56, 66; free, 3, 15
Attention, free-foating, 69, 101
Auden, W. H. , 7, 48
Authenticity, 4
Authority/power, 22, 45
Autoeroticism, 94
Autonomy, 22, 38
Bacon, Francis, 29
Being and Nothingness (Sartre), 81-82
Belief, 1 5, 1 10, 1 1 1 , 1 12, 1 1 7, 1 1 9; as
experience, 58; in objects, 59; true,
120; false, 121. See also Religion;
True Belief
Benign circle, 36
Betrayal, 100
"Beyond the Dreaming Experience"
(Freud), 64, 67
Beyond the Pleasure Principle (Freud),
43
Bion, Wilfred, 48, 103, 105-106, 107
Blanchot, Maurice, 4
Body, 41 , 96; as object, 30, 4; rep­
resentations of, 31, 32; composure
of, 43; fantasy and, 43, 44; one-body
relationship, 62; movement, 73, 74;
of mother, 81 ; integrity of, 87; suck­
ing of, 93, 94, 98; as mother substi­
tute, 94; vs. intellect, 1 16
Bollas, Christopher, 76
Bonnard, Pierre, 19
Boredom, S, 20, 68-78
Bowlby, John, 103
Breast, 34, 75; sucking of, 93-94, 97,
98-99; -infant relationship, 105-106
British School, 102, 103, 105
Cage, John, 92
"Capacity to Be Alone, The" (Win­
nicott), 63
Care, 31, 32, 34-41, 44, 45, 49
Castration, 16, 87, 88, 89. See also
Penis
Catholicism, 1 17
Censorship, 53, 55, 64, 86
Charcot, Jean Martin, 103
Chekhov, Anton, 100
Children and childhood: tickling of,
9-10; stories of, 1 1 ; phobias, IS,
Index
- 132 -
Children and childhood (cont. )
27, 79-80; memories, 17; risks, 27,
78; morality of, 35; solitude in, 41;
desire for mother, 43; excitement
and, 43; mental development, 44-
45; worries, 49; love, 59-60; bore­
dom, 68-76; self-expression, 73-74;
construction of obstacles, 90-91 ;
sensuality/sexual theories, 1 16, 1 1 7,
1 1 8-1 1 9; idolatry, 1 1 8
Christianity, 1 17-1 1 8
Claustrophobia, 1 7
Compliance, 34
Composure, 42-46
Compulsion, repetition, 59, 86-87
Concern, 36, 37, 49, 96; for object,
33-34, 38, 39. See also Worrying
Confessions (Rousseau), 84
Confict, 54-55
Conscious, 43, 91
Construction of obstacles, 80-81 , 84-
85, 86, 87, 89, 90-91 , 92
Continuity, 80
Control: omnipotent, 29-30, 38, 39,
48, 50; magical, 31 ; defensive, 44
Controversial Discussions, 104
Conversation, 49; psychoanalysis as,
1, 4, 6, 7-8
Conviction, 4
Cooperation, 35
Crab be, George, 87
Creativity, 36-37, 39-40; of dreams,
55, 66
Culture, 4, 109, 1 1 1 , 1 1 2, 1 20; lan­
guage games in, 8
Cure, 1 -3, 26, 48, 82; self-, 42, 71
Curiosity, 2, 3, 6; phobias and, 1 4,
20, 23; perversion and, 63; boredom
and, 75; of infants, 95
Darwin, Charles, 9, 1 1 , 1 3, 1 5, 98
Davidson, Donald, 23
Death, 18, 24, 27, 77, 90, 1 1 9; in
dreams, 28; of desire, 83; obstacles
to, 89; instinct, 128n2
Defenses, 76. See also Self: protection/
defense
Delusion, 1 1 2
Demands, 58, 61 , 62, 69-70
Dependency, 29, 41 , 69
Depression, 36, 53
Depressive Position, 107
Descombes, Vincent, 65
Desire(s), 1 1 , 52, 55, 58, 73, 103; fear
and, 1 2-13, 1 6-17, 18; exchange of,
14; memory and, 16, 40; projection
of, 16-17; ego and, 24, 43, 75;
solitude and, 29; of infants and
children, 34, 36, 39, 45-46, 64,
71 , 72, 74; of mother, 45-46;
perversions and, 66; wishes and, 68,
69, 91; simulation of, 70-71 ;
unconscious, 71 , 83; preconditions
for, 74-75; boredom and, 76, 78;
obstacles and, 82-85, 92; satisfac­
tion of, 100
Despair/desolation, 71
Destruction, 37, 39, 76, 89, 94
Development/ developmental theory,
1 1 , 30, 33, 41, 49, 57, 60, 104;
psychoanalysis and, 6, 61 -62, 105;
unconscious and, 7; sexual, 10, 94-
95, 96, 97-98, 99; phobias and, 25;
risks of, 38, 39; mental, 44, 45, 46,
88; dreams and, 64; emotional, 68,
69; obstacles and, 90, 92; of charac­
ter, 93
Development ofPsycho-Analysis, The
(Ferenczi/Rank) , 86
Dialogue, 3
Dickens, Charles, 51
Difference, 62, 89-90, 1 1 5
Disappointment, 99
Disillusionment, 35, 67, 75, 99
Dissociation, 34, 45, 70, 88
Double-think, 76
Doubt, 54, 55, 58, 70, 92
Dream(s), 7, 27; -work, 1 0, 55, 64,
77; interpretation, 20, 56, 62, 64,
65, 66, 92; phobias and, 20-21 ;
unconscious and, 28, 57, 65, 66,
102; worries and, 47-48, 53, 55-58;
punishment, 54; creativity of, 55,
66; use of, in psychoanalysis, 61 ,
64, 65, 104; as text/experience, 64,
65, 66-67; good, 65, 66, 102;
-space, 66; day-, 77; obstacles to, 92
"Dream Psychology and the Evolu­
tion of the Psychoanalytic Situa­
tion" (Khan), 64
Index
-
133 -
Eating and feeding, 36, 50-51 , 54, 71 ,
91 , 102; oral eroticism and, 93-94,
96, 97
Ego, 1 6, 72, 76, 1 1 5; desire and, 24,
43, 75; phobias and, 25; pure plea­
sure, 25; -psychology, 32; -ideal,
39; auxiliary, 63, 70; waking, 65;
search for obstacles by, 92
Embarrassment, 95
Emotions, 48, 68, 69
Empiricism, 1 03
English Synonymes Explained (Crabbe),
87
Environment, 63; external (outside
world), 24, 30, 32, 34, 98; internal,
40, 44, 46, 57; perfect, 46; holding,
60; for dreams, 66; testing of, 72;
use of, 74
"Envy and Gratitude" (Klein), 38
Eros, 6
Eroticism, 10, 22, 52, 53, 1 00, 1 1 6;
oral, 93-94, 96, 97; idolatry and,
1 1 0, 120. See also Sensuality; Sexu­
ality
Erotogenic zones, 10-1 1 , 97, 98
Estrangement technique, 102
Evolution, 13
Excitement, 9, 22, 42; of children and
infants, 43, 45; erotic, 53, 1 1 6;
obstacles and, 84-85
Experience, 14, 24, 58, 106; tickling
as, 1 0, 1 1 ; fantasy of, 1 1 ; emo­
tional, 48; of self, 62; dreams as, 64,
65, 66-67; waiting for (boredom),
68-69; repression of, 87
Expression ofthe Emotions in Man and
Animals (Darwin), 9
Facts, The (Roth), 52
Fairbairn, Ronald, 1 03
Faith, 106
False Self, 34, 60, 70
Family, 81 , 1 1 1
Fantasies, 4, 1 1 , 1 5, 36, 38, 42, 46, 75;
incestuous, 1 6; phobias and, 17-18,
23, 25, 80; of body, 43, 44; mastur­
bation, 43, 50; of success, 54; of
purpose, 57; object/subject relation­
ship in, 59; wishes and, 59, 107; of
greed, 71 ; of continuity, 80;
of mother, 88, 91, 1 04, 1 08; of kiss­
ing, 1 00; of function, 101 -102
Fathers, 32, 41 , 81 , 87, 88, 1 15, 1 19
Fear, 14, 15, 32; of desire, 1 2-13, 16-
17, 1 8; of castration, 1 6, 87, 88. See
also Phobia(s)
Feelings, 50, 55, 73, 75, 78, 92, 95
Ferenczi, Sandor, 86, 93, 94, 97
Fetishism and fetishes, 76, 87-88, 89,
107
F1iess, Wilhelm, 14
Forgetting, 40, 57
Free association, 3, 1 5
Freedom, 39
Freud, Anna, 103, 104, 107
Freud, Sigmund, 33, 41, 44, 90; on
psychoanalysis, 1-3, 32, 61 , 102;
devotion to science, 3, 5, 1 14, 1 1 8;
theory of the unconscious, 3, 6, 7,
15, 54, 65, 91-92; sexual develop­
ment theory, 10, 94-95, 96, 97-98,
99-100, 1 1 5; on desire, 12, 1 3; on
phobias, 14, 15, 1 6-17, 22, 23, 24,
25, 27-28; on ego, 24, 43; on
dreams, 40, 54, 55, 61 , 65, 66, 77;
on worrying, 50, 53, 54-55; on
excess, 59, 60; on mourning, 71 ,
72; on jokes, 85, 1 1 0; on fetishism,
87-88; on mothering, 103-1 04; on
idolatry, 109-1 1 1 , 1 13-1 1 4, 1 1 5,
121; on religion, 1 1 2-1 1 3, 1 1 4, 1 1 5,
1 16-1 1 7, 1 1 8-120
Frustration, 1 1 , 69, 93
Function, 101
Future, 1 4, 77, 1 1 2
Future ofa n Illusion, The (Freud) , 1 1 8-
1 1 9, 1 20
Games, 8, 1 1 , 41 , 91 , 1 04
Gender, 105
Genitals, 87, 88, 96, 97, 127n9
Genius, 3
Good life, 4, 5, 6, 33
Greed, 71 , 96
Green, Andre, 1 4
Groddeck, Georg, 46
Guilt, 35, 36, 37, 39, 54, 61
Hallucination, 34
Hate, 20, 24, 25, 38
Index
- 134 -
Health, 40, 55, 57
Helplessness, 9, 1 0, 22, 69, 1 1 9
Hermeneutics, 65, 67
Hesitation, 72, 73, 74
Holding and holding function, 1 0, 1 4,
47, 1 05; of infant, 27, 31 , 32, 38,
63, 1 07; of self, 30, 32, 44; defined,
44; failure of, 60; use of, in psycho­
analysis, 65; of experience, 69; of
mood, 70
Hostility, 30, 1 20
Human Nature (Winnicott), 107
Humiliation, 1 0
Humor, 4, 7. See also Jokes
Hunger, 9, 34, 71 , 91 . See also Eating
and feeding
Hysteria, I, 10, 43, 1 03, 1 1 2
I dealization, 3, 39, 1 20
Identity and identification, 101, 1 04-
105, 1 1 8, 1 28n4; of psychoana­
lyst, 5, 63, 1 05; of patient, 6, 8, 63,
105
Idolatry, 109-121
Illness, 40
Illusion, 34, 91 , 1 19, 1 20-121
Imagination, 6, 35, 42, 50, 54, 62
Improvisation, 2-3, 6
Incest, 1 6, 24, 83
Independence, 45
Infancy/infant(s}, 33; absence of
mother and, 27, 28-29, 32, 75-76,
91 ; holding environment and, 27, 31 ,
32, 38, 63, 1 07; solitude of, 28, 29-
30, 31 , 41, 62, 64, 69, 75-76; objects
and, 31 , 37; -mother relationship, 32,
34, 35, 44-45, 61 , 62, 71 , 81 , 89, 1 03,
105-106; desires of, 34, 36, 39, 45-
46, 64, 74; -in-care alone with him­
self, 41 , 62; mental development, 44-
45; satisfaction of, 66, 98, 99, 104;
oral eroticism, 93-94, 95, 98, 99,
1 1 8; sucking and relation to breast,
93-94, 97, 98-99, 105-106; observa­
tion of, 104; psyche, 1 05
Inhibition, 73
Instincts, 6, 1 3, 36, 43, 67; wishes
and, 54, 55; satisfaction of, 85
"Instincts and Their Vicissitudes"
(Freud), 24
Integration, 44
Intellect, 45, 77, 1 1 6
Intelligibility, 6, 7
Interpretation: of dreams, 20, 56, 62,
64, 65, 66, 92; of phobias, 20; by
analyst, 61 , 62, 74; of transference,
1 06-107; of idols, 1 1 3
Intimacy, 34, 57, 58, 59, 60, 62
Introductory Lectures (Freud), 27-28
Irrationality, 1 2-1 3, 15, 23
Isolation, 4, 31 , 46, 89
James, William, 1 2-13, 1 4, 15, 1 6, 1 9
Jokes, 7, 85-86, 1 10, 1 1 3. See also
Laughter
Jokes and Their Relation to the Uncon-
scious (Freud), 85
Jones, Ernest, 1 1 6
Judaism, 1 1 0, 1 12-1 13, 1 1 4, 1 16, 1 1 8
Jung, c. G. , 1 1 5
Khan, Masud, 41 , 59, 62, 63; on
objects, 60, 61 , 62; on dreams, 64,
65, 66, 67
"Kiss, The" (Chekhov), 100
Kissing, 5, 93-100
Klein, Melanie, 33, 37-38, 48, 59,
102, 103, 105, 107; on hate, 24; on
love, 35-36; on depression, 36, 37;
on instinct, 67; emotional develop­
ment theory, 68, 75; paranoid­
schizoid position, 75
Knowing, 4, 7, 108; beforehand, 15,
63; impossibility of, 60, 70;
unknowing/not-knowing, 62, 63,
64, 65, 66, 1 07
Knowledge, 8, 9, 22, 23, 1 1 8; of self,
1 7, 67; object of, 24, 30, 64, 67; of
sex, 1 17-1 1 8
Lacan, Jacques, 29, 121
Language, 2, 61 , 109; of psychoanaly­
sis, 4, 41 , 44, 1 04; games, 8, 1 04;
phobias and, 13, 16, 21 ; dreams
and, 65; description of kissing,
95-96
Laplanche, Jean, 43, 76
Laughter, 9, 1 1 . See also Jokes
Libido, 1 6, 1 1 7
Life-stories, 6, 1 03
Index
- 135 -
Linking, 14, 1 9, 88-89, 92; risk/sol­
itude, 32-33; solitude/attention, 40;
parent/child, 49; link-envy, 1 27n9
Loss, 88, 89, 99
Love, 25, 33, 35-36, 53, 59-60, 85,
94, 1 1 0
Madness, 1 3
Magic/magical thinking, 25, 31 , 71 ,
1 12
Mania, 53
Manic depression, 90
Masturbation, 9, 43, 50
McDougall, Joyce, 76
Meaning, 16, 21 , 22, 76
Medicine, 2, 3
Melancholia, 71-72
Memory, 1 6, 1 7, 40, 57
Merging, 83, 89
Meyer, Eduard, 1 1 3
Michelangelo, 1 13, 1 1 4-1 1 5
Milner, Marion, 63
"Mind and Its Relation to the Psyche­
Soma, The" (Winnicott), 44
Mind and mental life, 1 01 ; wishes and,
5, 54; states of, 1 4, 1 9, 1 06; develop­
ment, 44, 45, 46, 88
Mirror, 99, 1 01 ; -stage, 1 25n6
Mitchell, Stephen, 34
Money-Kyrle, Roger, 22
Monotheism, 1 15-1 16, 1 1 9
Moods, 68, 70, 71 , 78
Morality, 35, 1 24nl l
Moses, 1 1 3, 1 14-1 1 5, 1 16, 1 18, 1 19,
1 20
Moses and Monotheism (Freud), 1 1 5-
1 16
Moses of Michelangelo, The (Freud),
1 13
Mother(s}, 47, 61 , 69, 90-91 ;
psychoanalyst as, 3, 1 02-103, 1 07-
1 08; absence of, 27, 28-29, 32, 75-
76, 91 ; caregiving by, 31 , 32, 34,
44, 45; as object, 32, 38, 77, 1 04;
relationship to infant or child, 32,
34, 35, 44-45, 61 , 62, 71 , 81 , 89,
1 03, 1 05-106; separation from, 32,
35; desires or wishes of child and,
36, 45-46, 64; risk and, 41 ; mental
development of infant and, 44-45;
desires of, 45-46; availability of,
63-64; as process of transformation,
77; fantasies of, 88, 91 , 1 04, 1 08;
phallic, 88; function of, 1 02, 1 03;
role of, in psychoanalysis, 1 02-1 03,
106; maternal reverie, 1 05; pre-oedi­
pal, lOS, 1 06, 1 07, 1 08
Mothering, 44, 46, 59, 61 , 1 02, 1 03-
1 04
Mourning, 27, 71 , 72. See also Death
Mourning and Melancholia (Freud), 71
Mouth: kissing, S, 93-100; sucking,
93-94, 97, 98, 99
Murder, 89
Narcissism, 27, 99, 1 00
Narrative, 1 0
Need, 71
"Negation" (Freud), 24
Neurosis, 1 1 6
New Introductory Lectures, The
(Freud} , 5
Nietzsche, Friedrich, 33, 40
Nonappropriation, 1 26n22
Nourishment, 94, 97, 98, 99. See also
Eating and feeding; Hunger
Nursing, 1 07. See also Breast
Nurture, 40, 60, 1 03
Object(s), 29, 40, 41 ; offear and
phobias, IS, 1 9, 21 , 22, 25; sexual,
22, 31 , 99; of knowledge, 24, 30, 64,
67; oflove and hate, 25, 37, 38-39;
-relations theory, 31 , 49, 57, 58, 59,
62, 85, 89, 1 19; subjective, 31 , 38, 39,
59-60, 1 24n17; maternal/paternal,
32, 38, 77, 1 04, 1 19; concer for, 33-
34, 38, 39; disregard or destruction
of, 37, 38-39, 76; of desire, 38-39,
62-63, 66, 76, 83, 88, 91 ; of worry,
49-50, 52; good, 60, 1 07; transi­
tional, 60, 64, 89; transformational,
76-77; -seeking, 77; absence of, 78;
obstacles and, 9; loss of, 99; visual,
104; of belief, 1 12, 121
Observation, 1 03-104, 1 05
"Observation ofInfants in a Set Situa­
tion, The" (Winnicott), 72
Obsessions, 43, 53
Obstacles, 3, 59, 79-92
Index
- 136 -
Oedipal relationships, 18, 48, 89. See
also Pre-oedipal stage
Omnipotence, 29-30, 38, 39, 48, 50,
75, 80
Omniscience, 106, 107, 108
"On a Certain Blindness in Human
Beings" (James), 1 5
"On Great and Little Things"
(Hazlitt), 51
Orality, 93-94, 96, 97
Pain, 7-8, 10, 1 1 , 50, 51 , 53, 62,
1 1 9
Paradise Lost (Milton), 42
Paradox, 22, 23, 30, 33, 38, 43; of
analysis, 48, 58, 105, 106, 1 21 ; of
wishes, 68; linking, 89
Paranoia, 25
Paranoid-schizoid position, 75
Past, 2-3, 15, 16, 77, 1 10, 1 1 1
Pathology, 1 , 32, 34, 41, 65, 71
Pedagogy, 104-105, 106
Penis, 6, 76, 88. See also Castration
Persecution, 26, 29, 51 , 52, 54
Personality, splitting of, 94
Personalization process, 66, 67
Perversion(s), 32, 40, 43, 108; tickling
as, 9, 1 1 ; contract, 38-39; objects
and, 38-39, 62-63, 66; curiosity
and, 63; sexual, 97
Philosophy, S, 1 2
Phobia(s), 1 2-26, 53; agoraphobia,
13-16; opportunities for, 14-15; as
transition, 14, 19; of children, 15,
27, 79-80; as defense, 1 5; claus­
trophobia, 1 7; object of, 19, 21 , 22,
25; situation, 1 9, 21 , 27-28;
symptoms as, 22; defined, 25-26
Play, 1 1 , 66
"Playing Mothers" (Phillips), 3
Pleasure, 9, 1 0, 1 1 , 24, 25, 43, 50, 59,
1 19; sexual, 35, 97; obstacles to, 85;
jokes and, 85-86
Pluralistic universe, 1 5
Poetry, 1 10
Pontalis, ]. -B. , 62
Possession, 59
Powers of Horror (Kristeva), 22
Pragmatism, 1 4
Preconceptions, 6
Pre-oedipal stage, 24, 75, 89, 102. See
also Mother: pre-oedipal
Presence, 63
Present, 1 1 1
"Primitive races, " 1 16, 1 17, 1 1 8
Privacy, 29, 49, 65
Projection, 16-1 7, 45, 76
Prostitution, 1 4
Protest, 76
Proust, Marcel, 16, 77, 86
Provocation, 1 9-20
Psyche, 86
Psychesoma, 44, 45, 46
"Psychoanalysis and Idolatry"
(Phillips), 5
"Psychoanalysis and the Sense of
Guilt" (Winnicott), 35
Psychology: The Briefer Course
(James), 1 2
Psychopathy, 39
Punishment, 54
Purpose, 57
Pursuit, 52
"Question of Weltanschauung, The"
(Freud) , 5
Rage, 76, 79
Rank, Otto, 86
Rationality, 23. See also Irrationality
Reactivity, 23-24
Reality, 38, 55, 73, 1 19; external, 34,
89, 1 1 8; internal, 68, 89, 1 1 8
Recognition, 45, 46, 80, 82
Reconstruction, 65
Regression, 71
Religion, S, 12, 1 1 1 , 1 1 2-120
Remembering. See Memory
Reparation, 36-37, 38, 39
Repetition compulsion, 21 , 59, 86-87
Representation, 57, 75
Repression, 85-86; of opportunity,
14-15; phobias and, 17; of states of
mind, 1 9; unconscious and, 24; of
solitude, 27; primary, 67; waiting
and, 78; of experience, 87
Resistance, 86-87
Revenge, 9, 45, 1 1 4-1 1 5
Reverie, 105-106
Rilke, Rainer Maria, 40
Index
- 137 -
Risk, 27, 29-30; of adolescence, 30,
31 , 32; of adulthood, 30, 78;
developmental, 38, 39; of soli­
tude, 39
Romance, 3, 1 4, 95-96, 1 1 1
Rorty, Richard, 6
Roth, Philip, 52
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 84, 85
Ruskin, John, 42
Ruthlessness, 35-36, 37, 38, 39
Sachs, Hans, 109
Sadism, 45
Sadness, 47, 53
Sadomasochism, S, 38-39, 44
Sartre, Jean-Paul, 30, 81 -82
Satisfaction, 1 1 , 59, 65, 84, 85; object
of, 29; of self, 46, 99, 100; of
infant, 66, 98, 99, 104; wish-fulfill­
ment, 66, 67, 1 12; sexual, 98, 99; of
desire, 100
Schreber case, 1 12
Science, 2, 3, 5, 7, 1 1 1 , 1 1 2
Seduction, 46, 52, 1 06
Self 59; identity of psychoanalyst, S,
63, 1 05; identity of patient, 6, 8, 63,
105; -protection/-defense, 15, 1 6-17,
55, 98; -knowledge, 17, 67; versions
of 18, 1 9, 20; pathologizing, 22-23;
loss of, 25; -trust, 29, 32, 41 ; -hold­
ing, 30, 32, 44, 46; relationship with,
34, 39-40, 94, 96; -confidence, 42,
73, 74; -cure, 42, 71 ; -presentation/
-expression, 43, 70, 73-74; -control,
44, 45, 1 1 4; isolation of, 46; -satisfac­
tion, 46, 99, 100; worrying and, 54,
55, 57, 58; -doubt, 55, 58, 70; dream­
ing, 57, 64, 65, 67; -estrangement,
60; experience of, 62; -suffi ciency,
69, 99; -transformation, 76-77;
-destruction, 94; kissing of, 94, 98,
99, 1 00; disappointment with, 99;
-esteem, 1 16. See also False Self; True
Self
Sensuality, 10, 1 1 , 1 1 6
Set situation, 72, 74
Setting: for phobias, 16; analytic, 29,
38, 61 , 62-63, 72, 74, 1 01 , 1 07,
1 09, 1 1 1 ; for development of guilt,
35; for desires, 64; for dreams, 64
Sexuality, 16, 22, 95, 96, 97, 1 00, 1 10;
pleasure in hurting, 35; satisfaction
in, 98, 99. See also Eroticism
Sleep, 28-29
Smirnoff, Victor, 87-88
Solitude, 27-41 ; in infants, 28, 29-30,
31 , 41 , 62, 64, 69, 75-76
Soma, 44, 48
Space, concept of, 66, 91
Splitting, 3-4, 94, 1 18
Still Life (Byatt), 52
Stories, 1 1 , 43, 83, 95-96; psycho­
analysis as, 4, 7-8; life-, 6, 103;
phobias as, 23
Stroking, 1 0, 94
Studies on Hysteria (Freud), 1
Substitution, 75, 91 , 94, 99, 1 00
Superstition, 1 1 2
Surprise, 9, 37, 44, 72, 90
Suzuki, D. T. , 92
Swann's Way (Proust), 77
"Symbolism in Dreams" (Freud), 28
Symptoms, 1 , 2, 29, 60, 1 12; use of,
13, 21 ; phobias as, 22-23, 79;
patient's need for, 48, 1 1 9; worries
as, 48, 49; as obstacles, 83-84
Table Talk (Hazlitt), 51
Taboos, 23
Technique/method, 2-3, 5, 1 01 ;
estrangement, 22
Thanatos, 6
Theories: psychoanalytic, 3-4, 23-24,
61 , 68, 87, 107, 1 1 2; of un con­
scious, 3, 6, 7, 15, 54, 65, 91 -92; of
sexuality, 10, 1 1 7; of phobias, 23;
contradictory positions and, 88;
sexual, 1 1 7, 1 1 8-1 1 9. See also
Development/developmental theory
Thinking, secondary process, 92
Three Essays on the Theory ofSexuality
(Freud), 10, 94, 97-98
Thumb sucking, 93, 94
Tickling, S, 9-12
Time, 13, 40, 48, 75, 91, 92, 1 08
Timing, 104
Tradition, 3, 33, 50, 100
Transactions, 49
Transference, 21, 31 , 32, 40, 74, 105,
108, 1 1 4; in analysis, 66, 101-1 02,
Index
- 138 -
Transference (cont.)
103; negative, 70; interpretation
of, 106; open, 107; idolatry and,
1 15, 120
Transformation, 76-77
Transition/transitional phenomena,
12, 66, 72, 89; phobias as, 14, 1 9.
See also Object(s): transitional
Trauma, 1 1 , 42, 43, 46, 87, 94, 100
Troilus and Cressida (Shakespeare), 97
True Belief, 1 1 1 , 1 12, 1 18
True Self, 46, 50, 64, 107
Trust, 29, 32, 41
Truth, S, 14, 15, 67, 1 18-1 19
Unconscious, 8, 41, 43, 120, 1 28n4;
Freudian theory of 3, 6, 7, 15, 54,
65, 91-92; phobias and, 15, 22;
repression of, 24; defined, 25;
dreams and, 28, 57, 65, 66, 102;
wishes and desires, 54, 71 , 83; fan­
tasies, 59; obstacles and, 91 -92;
communication, 101
Unhappiness, 1 12
Unpleasure, 24
Use: of analogy, 1 -3, 4, 5, 51 , 87; of
psychoanalysis, 1 , 6, 65; of
instincts, 1 3; of symptoms, 13, 21;
of worries, 49-50; of objects, 59; of
dreams, 61 , 64, 65, 104; of lan­
guage, 61 ; of transference, 66; of
environment, 74
"Use and Abuse of Dream in Psychic
Experience, The" (Kahn), 64, 66
Waiting, 68-69, 72, 75, 76, 77-78
Wednesday Psychological Society, 109
Weil, Simone, 90
Winch, Peter, 90
Winnicott, D. W. , 28, 49, 106;
holding concept, 29, 44, 59, 1 05,
107; on isolation and solitude, 31 ,
41 ; developmental theory, 33-35,
37-38, 39, 46, 59, 68; on False and
True Self, 34, 46, 60, 107; on
ruthlessness, 35-36; on objects, 39,
59, 60, 89; on composure, 44;
mother-infant relationship model,
61 , 62, 66, 1 02, 103; on perversion,
63; on boredom, 72-74, 75
Wisdom, John, 67
Wish(es), 5, 7, 36, 95, 120; for
solitude, 40-41 ; to be understood,
46; -fulfillment/satisfaction, 54, 56,
66, 67, 1 12, 1 19; instinctual, 54, 55;
punishment for, 54; fantasies and,
59, 107; desire and, 68, 91; for
obstacles, 83, 91
Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 58
Worrying, 47-58
Writing, 33-34, 68; of psychoanalysis,
6, 7, 103, 106
Zweig, Stephan, 1 1 1
AOAM PHI LLI PS is Principal Child Psycho­
therapist at Charing Cross Hospital [The
Wolverton Center] in London and author of
Winniot ( Harvard).
H A RVA R D U N I V E R S I TY P R E S S
Cambridge. Massachusetts
Jacket design by Lisa Clark
Painting by Rene Magritte. T, LverJ 1928. courtesy of the
Richard S. Zeisler Collection. New York.
"Adam Phillips, one arm gently

rapped around,the reader's back,
dismantles with shrewd glee and inspired brilliance one after another
of the thoughtless but dogged 'truths' of psychoanalysis. Only
through acts of critical love such as this can psychoanalysis regenerate
the intelligent act of questioning that founded it in the first place:'
- Christopher Bollas
l ¨
"Most psychoanalytic writing of the past three decades has attempted
to advance theory through the creation of new developmental stages
or the adoption of another Greek myth or the ofering of new empirical
data. Phillips attempts to reconstitute psychoanalysis through writing.
If Phillips' earlier book, Winnlot, is a critical tribute to one great
analyst, On Kig, T�kling, and Being Bored announces the coming
of age of another. More than that, Adam Phillips' book is a sign of
life in psychoanalysis - a promise that psychoanalysis can survive
itself."
- Deborah Luepnitz
"Not only very original, but quietly witty and full of beautifully
relevant citations. Unlike most analysts Phillips writes with idio­
syncratic clarity and a sort of oblique common sense -oblique because
he seems to be saying very unusual things about ordinary subjects,
/
and saying them with such epigrammatic clarity and persuasiveness
that they will never seem as ordinary again. There is always, in his
argument, that which you could not possibly have thought of, or so
acutely illustrated yourself, but which at once sounds right. Phillips,
whose title may remind one more of Hazlitt or Emerson than of
contributors to the technical journals, has virtually invented the
essay as a suitable form for penetrating psychoanalytic inquiry."
- Frank Kermode
" .

$19.95

to turn to tears. Where is that ticklish line between pleasure and pain? Why do we risk its being crossed? Does psychoanalysis possess the language to talk about such an extraordinary ordinary thing? In a style that is writerly and audacious, Adam Phillips takes up this subject and others largely overlooked by psychoanalysis - kissing, worrying, risk, solitude, and compo­ sure. He writes about phobias as a kind of theory, a form of protection against curiosity; about analysis as a patient's way of reconstitut­ ing solitude; about "good-enough" mothering as the antithesis of "bad-enough" imperialism: about psychoanalysis as an attempt to cure idol­ atry through idolatry; and even about farting as it relates to worrying. Psychoanalysis began as a virtuoso improvisa­ tion within the science of medicine, but virtuos­ ity has given way to the dream of science that only the examined life is worth living. Phillips shows that the drive to omniscience has been unfortunate both for psychoanalysis and for life. On KU.1ing, Tickling, and Betizg Bored is a set of meditations on underinvestigated themes in psy­ choanalysis that shows how much one's psychic health depends on establishing a realm of life that successfully resists examination.

TGo on too long, and her laughter is sure

ickle a child, and she peals with laughter.

On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored

Massachusetts .On Kissing) Tickling) and Being Bored Psychoanalytic Essays on the Unexamined Life A D A M PHILLIPS HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS Cambridge.

and being bored: psychoanalytic essays on the unexamined life p. Freud. Adam. 1856-1939.Copyright © 1993 by Adam Phillips All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 This book is printed on acid-free paper. Sigmund. .89'17-dc20 / Adam Phillips. paper) 1. W. Psychoanalysis. Includes index. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Phillips. and its binding materials have been chosen for strength and durability. (Donald Woods). Winnicott. 1896-1971. 616. ISBN 0-674-63462-4 (alk. On kissing. tickling. 3. Title. RC509. cm. I. D.P55 1993 92-20662 CIP 2.

For Hugh Haughton .

I have had the kind of congenial and attentive editors that have improved everything that I have submitted to them. their translations. a wider appeal. and some of the best lines in . in quite different ways. " It was at the invitation of Michel Gribinski and J-B. Also. at Harvard University Press I am very grateful to Angela von der Lippe and Lindsay Waters for keeping faith with the project over several years. So I am grateful to have been able to publish most of them originally in journals-the Nouvelle Revue de Psychanalyse. In our clinical work with children and families at Charing Cross Hospital. Raritan. endorses J L. some of these essays derive from conversations we have had. my colleague Glenda Fredman has transformed the way I think about psychoanalysis. the book has been braced by her shrewd enthusiasm. and to Ann Hawthorne for editing the manu­ script with such a good ear.Preface Because psychoanalysis is about the most ordinary things in the world it should not be difficult to be interested in. Pontalis. and their hospitality (and the fact that they are unbeglamored by obscur­ ity). the London Review of Books-which have. as it were. Austin's remark that "it is not enough to show how clever we are by showing how obscure everything is. I have gained a great deal from their incitement. the editors of the Nouvelle Revue. in Richard Poirier and Suzanne Hyman at Raritan and Mary-Kay Wilmers at the London Review of Books. The essays in this book have been written in the belief that any psycho­ analytic theory that is of interest only to members of the profes­ sion is unlikely to be worth reading. that I first began writing the essays in this book. Similarly. Jacqueline Rose made enormous differences at the last moment. Each of these journals.

V1ll - them may be hers. I have observed the economical.but obviously unsatisfactory convention of using the masculine pronoun. Throughout the text.PREFACE . Sarah Spankie has entitled more than this particular book. .

Contents Introduction 1 9 12 27 42 47 59 68 79 93 101 1 09 1 23 1 30 131 1 . Playing Mothers: Between Pedagogy and Transference 1 1 . On Composure 5. On Risk and Solitude 4. First Hates: Phobias in Theory 3. Returning the Dream: In Memoriam Masud Khan 7. Looking at Obstacles 9. Worrying and Its Discontents 6. Psychoanalysis and Idolatry Notes Credits Index . On Being Bored 8. Plotting for Kisses 10. On Tickling 2.

quarrelled with some or all.The results oflife are un calculated and uncalculable. and come and go. A Year .from Monday When people think they've seen enough of something. blundered much. but there's more. then they react in a curiously livid way. and drew in other persons as coadjutors. The individual is always mistaken. He designed many things. The per­ sons who compose our company converse. and no change of shot. but the individual is always mis­ taken. The years teach much which the days never know. Time Sequences. Experience Which is wrong? The weather or our calendars? John Cage. Wim Wenders. all are a little advanced. but an unlooked-for result. and design and execute many things. and some­ what comes of it all. It turns out somewhat new and very unlike what he promised himself. Continuity ofMovement . Ralph Waldo Emerson. and something is done.

etc. "I have often in my own mind. which now seems an unusual thing to do (for obvious reasons. it was clear to him what it was to be used for. The operation. By removing the pathological material the surgeon creates the conditions in which the cure can take . It was a new method. you must ask yourself: What do I want to do with her?" Stendhal. An analogy of this kind finds its justification not so much in the removal of what is pathological as in the establishment of conditions that are more likely to lead the course of the process in the direction of recovery. And insofar as psychoanalysis was a medical treatment. and I have brought out their analogy with the opening up of a cavity filled with pus. The Life of Henry Brulard When Freud began to discover what we now think of as psychoanalysis. in the medical treatment of what were then called hysterical symptoms. is not the cure. a potential form of cure. sur­ geons don't tend to think of their work as a form of conversa­ tion) .Introduction Brichard was quite right when he said to me with his usual malice: "When you're in love with a woman. Freud is interested in the consequences of his analogy. " Freud wrote. it is only the prelude to the cure. He is comparing talking to someone with a surgical operation. the concept of cure seemed relatively unproblematic. the scrap­ ing out of a carious region. Freud suggests. compared cathartic psychotherapy with surgical inter­ vention. I have described my treatments as psychothera­ peutic operations. 1 In this concluding section of Studies on Hysteria (1 895).

that is to say. recognizes the symptoms of a dis ease. In each of thes e professions the pragmatic aims of their respective practices are apparently clear. canonical t exts. from the sciences and the arts. Freud b eing the prototyp e of the "wild analyst. despite the medical training of the early analysts. " Psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis. but improvised. In any analogy-and Freud had to be preoccupied with analogies for psychoanalysis b ecause it was so difficult to place-two s ets of largely tacit assumptions s eem to join forces . and the doctor. and h e took them. But to b elieve in such a process. and to know what a cure is-what recovery looks like-the doctor must already know what a life is supposed to look like. and has a recondite ability to read it. out of a p eculiarly indefinable s et of con­ ventions. The cure can b egin only after the treatment has ended. was improvis ed. The det ective knows a clu e when he s ees one. had no t exts. the archaeologist can imagine a past that makes s ense of the rubble. TICKLIN G . Something new. The psychotherapist simply clears the way to establish the con­ ditions requisite for recovery. All of these professions can formulate their aims b ecause they have them (or vice versa) . The vocabularies that constitute their practices are their idea of what they are attempting to do. and no rhetoric. In other words. p ersuasive prac­ titioners. Even if there are mavericks like Sher­ lock Holm es. after all. can be com­ pared only with something from the past. and training institutions conspire to create the nec es­ sary aura of plausibility. All o f Freud's b y now well-known analogies for the skill of the psychoanalyst are in one s ense immensely reassuring. Obstacles are removed to facili­ tate a possible process. all it had to s ee itself with were analogies with other forms of practice. of cours e. sometimes in spite of hims elf. And because their tasks are definabl e-and teachable-they will know what it is to fail. Freud had to improvis e b etween the available analo­ gies. The first practitioners of psycho­ analysis were making it up as they went along. - AND BEIN G BORED 2 - place. They orientate the curious very quickly. they can be mavericks only against a backdrop of orthodoxy. no institu­ tions. at its inception.ON KI S S IN G . something alr eady .

Freud wanted to think of himself as a scientist. But Freud was dete. in some way. Curiosity. Even though Freud's analogies were compelling. with the discovery of what he called the unconscious­ Freud glimpsed a daunting prospect: a profession of impro­ visers. One does not need to idealize either the indefinite or the improvised to think that the fact that psychoanalysis is difficult to place-unlike a lot of things to which it is similar-may be one of its distinctive virtues.Introduction . Nor need it be cause for dismay­ despite the splits and the synthesizing of theories (the having of "dialogues") in contemporary psychoanalysis-that psycho­ analysis can be a circus with many acts. for example-as I suggest at various points in these essays-turns the familiar concept of cure into the problem rather than the solution. because improvisation is difficult to legitimate-and to sell-outside of a cult of genius. the ways in which psychoanalysis.rmined to ke�p psychoanalysis offi­ cially in the realm of scientific rigor. is always opportunism. and despite the range of his own cultural interests. Retrospectively it seems rather as though it �as very much the confluence of disparate traditions-and traditionally separated disciplines-that produced the new sentences that are called psychoanalytic theory. which Freud did so much to redescribe. sustaining at once the romance and the worthiness of psycho­ analysis. Psychoanalysts have been tardy about this problem of unlikeness. he was unwilling to describe the ways in which psy­ choanalysis was unlike the professions he most admired. I think.3 - established. then. some clinicians began to believe that a psychoanalyst should be. "like" a mother. partly. And in the ethos of Freud and his followers. There is no reason why . improvisa­ tion was closer to the inspiration of artists than to the discipline of scientists. Psychoanalysis began. Prospectively. With the invention of psychoanalysis-or rather. It is indeed dis­ appointing-as I show in "Playing Mothers"-that after Freud had invented a new kind of person called a psychoanalyst. and free association-the heart of psychoanalytic treatment-is itself ritualized improvi­ sation. as a kind of virtuoso improvi­ sation within the science of medicine.

." the fan­ tasies of inner superiority in the profession.ON KI S S IN G . TICKLIN G . or more tormented. from different points of view. their lives. and especially if it helps us find new things about ourselves that we didn't know we could value. especially if one wants to keep in mind that there are many kinds of good life. A repertoire might be more useful than a conviction. or whatever it is about ourselves that we value and want to promote. and do other things to. mixing and matching. It is prodigal in its use of analogy and promiscuous in its references because the very process of comparing and contrasting. offers the possibility of more enlivefiing and diverse redescrip­ tions. As an evolving and relatively new story it is one of the dis­ tinctive virtues of psychoanalysis that it can give us new lines . But there are. many stories in the culture and in other cultures through which people examine. The psychoanalysis that interests me-and that is enter­ tained in these essays-tries to do this.4 - psychoanalysts should agree with one another-be either zeal­ ously partisan or gently pluralist-nor is there any reason to believe that if the perfect synthesis of competing theories is achieved it will speak inside the analyst like a god telling him what to do in the ordinary disarray of a psychoanalytic session. One sense in which a life is always unexamined-or end­ lessly examinable-is that it can always be described in different ways. By pooling the language of psychoanalysis rather than hoarding it-by circulat­ ing it in unusual places with other languages-psychoanalysis can be relieved of the knowingness that makes it look silly. Psychoanalysis is a story-and a way of telling stories-that makes some people feel better. and have been. And psychoanalysis can be good at showing the ways in which certain points of view become invested with authority. New virtues are surprisingly rare. the knowingness that comes from its "splendid isolation. but it is also too good at assum­ ing an authoritative point of view for itself. AND BEING BORED . And it keeps alive the potentially glib irony that psychoanalysts are experts-if they are experts about anything-about the fact that there are no experts on life. Psychoanalysis-as a form of conversation-is worth having only if it makes our lives more interesting. or sadder. or funnier.

the wish then becomes the saboteur. and analogies. who at this moment refuses to answer the patient's question? . Do I want to be the kind of person. If it were to be taken seriously in psychoanalytic trainings. Science. It is this kind of enthusiasm that psychoanalysis is particularly prone to-signifi­ cantly so-and that Freud tried to use the idea of science to manage. an extraordinary thing to take wishing seriously. after all. through psychoanalysis. for example. It is. for example. "The Question of Weltanschauung" in The New Introductory Lectures. as I show in "Psychoanalysis and Idolatry." becomes for Freud the method he believes to be most exempt from wishfulness. of course. When he did so in. of course. truth being that which it is better for us to submit to). tickling. but religion cannot-indeed must not-be used to explain science. and psychoanalysts after him. art. because another version of the question.Introduction . and being bored).5 - on things that matter to us (like kissing. and religion. But his fear of wishing and his disavowal of psychoanalysis as a form of ethical inquiry are. say. can be used to explain religion. of truth. Having. to keep the traffic going one way. producing caricatures of them in his promotion of science as the supreme method of human inquiry. If psycho­ analysis can make worrying more interesting. and psychoanalysis as a science. then worrying can make psychoanalysis more interesting. Science. he became unusually strident in his dismis­ sals of philosophy. Am I doing th�s properly? but. What kind of person does one want to be? Quite understandably this has been a question-and a connection-that Freud. connected. and therefore the most truthful (and despite the fact that the relationship to truth becomes a sadomasochistic one. have been wary of. the question for the trainee at any given moment would not be. work both ways. What constitutes a good life? is the question. By allying psychoanalysis so insistently with science-with a pursuit of truth irrespective of value-it was as though Freud could also exempt himself and his "new science" from the old question of what a good life is. But psychoanalysis itself has now become available as an analogy. placed the wish at the center of mental life. the contaminator.

A good life. and on the other hand he describes an unconscious that is by definition the sabo­ teur of intelligibility and normative life-stories. development. But the kind of distinction I have been making for the treatment of psychoanalysis also holds for the writing of psychoanalysis. as we know. Eros and Thanatos. as Richard Rorty has remarked. anal. or innate preconceptions-it can only try to reconcile people to who they are by telling them what that is.ON KI S S IN G . Psychoanalysis does not assume. or it can be some­ thing that we make up as we go along. it can only engage them in useful and interesting conversations. the value of writing (one couldn't do analysis as a correspondence course. feeding us our best lines. and how they have come to believe that these particular conversations are worth wanting. without talking. In Freud's work. there is an inspiring contradiction: on the one hand he describes what a life is. It is. one of the tacit assumptions of psychoanalysis that there can be no good life. in other words. TICKLIN G . as described by Freud. is either the successful negotiation of a more or less preset developmental project (in which the ques­ tion. So one could then say that as a form of treatment psychoanalysis is a conversation that enables people to understand what stops them from having the kinds of conversation they want. Rather than: psychoanalysis is a conversation that helps people get back on track. in endlessly proliferating and competing versions. for exam­ ple. psychoanalysts claim to believe in instincts. One of the dramas that these essays try to sustain-and that is . in this context. Indeed psycho­ analysis. a developmental progress through the oral. of course. and no curiosity. Psychoanalysis. although some accounts of analysis sound remarkably like one).6 - Insofar as psychoanalysis is essentialist-wh�n. according to our wishes. the uncon­ scious. would be a curiosity profession instead of a helping profession. because there is nothing wrong with anybody. 2 Psychoanalysis in this version cannot help people. AND BEIN G BORED . and phallic stages fueled by the "war" between two fundamental instincts. Set by whom? might seem irrelevant). in the same way. might make us wonder why it is so difficult to imagine a life without normative life-stories.

or sentences that make you wonder whether the writer really knows what he is talking about. examined life of developmental theory and the always potential life implied by the idea of the unconscious. about whether psycho­ analysis is scientific or not. One can put the whole notion of what it is to understand into question-as psychoanalysis does-without sneering at the wish for intelligibility. No amount of "evidence" or research will convince the un­ amused that a joke is funny. to evoke by provocation. And in another kind of psychoanalytic writing-which in its most extreme and sometimes inspired form pretends to ape the idea of the unconscious-there is a different kind of conscious wish at work: rather than informing the reader there is an attempt. According to this way of doing it. inconsistency.Introduction . thoroughness is not inciting. People have traditionally come for psychoanalytic conversation because the story they are telling themselves about their lives has stopped. for example. or both. we simply have to ask what we want to do with it. the wish to find stories for whatever is unbecoming. I prefer-and write in these essays-this kind of psychoanalysis. are considered to be no bad thing. And by the same token ambiguity. to return the reader to his own thoughts whatever their majesty. So in one kind of psychoanalytic writing the theorist will be telling us by virtue of his knowledge of development or the contents of the internal world what a life should be like.3 So we don't have to worry. Their complicity is traditionally underrated in psychoanalysis. however tentatively this may be put.7 - present in every clinical encounter-is the antagonism between the already narrated. or become too painful. But if the story is fixed-if the patient ends up speaking psychoanalysis-we must assume that some- . different "dreams of Eden. The conflict between knowing what a life is and the sense that a life contains within it something that makes such knowing impossible is at the heart of Freud's enterprise. The aim of the analysis is to restore the loose ends-and the looser beginnings-to the story." to use Auden's phrase. to echo Emerson. but each is impossible without the other. The different kinds of psychoanalysis have different proj­ ects.

less compliant idiom. TICKLIN G . of course. 4 . as one among the many language games in a culture (and the local. It is useful only as a contribution to forms of local knowledge. Psychoanalysis is essentially a transitional language. In order to regain interest in the idea of the unconscious we have to lose interest in the idea of the superordinate point of view: Who has once met irony will burst into laughter during the prophet's lecture.8 - thing has been lost in translation. one possible bridge to a more personal.ON KIS S IN G . starts with the individual person and his always recondite sense of himself ). AND BEING BORED .

1 On Tickling The ear says more Than any tongue. defining himself as human as he begins to "feed" his revenge. The child who will be able to feed himself. " An enigmatic conclu­ sion. "From the fact that a child can hardly tickle itself. is wholly exploitable. Graham. in the ordinary." Darwin wrote in his Expres­ sion of the Emotions in Man and Animals. and usually inviting this helpless­ ness. "The Hill of Intrusion" "If you tickle us. It is the pleasure he cannot reproduce in the absence of the other. that they matter only as shared knowledge. will never be able to tickle himself. "or in a much less degree than when tickled by another person. experience has rarely been thought about. it seems that the precise point to be touched must not be known. S. Helpless with pleasure. which. though manifestly untrue-children know exactly. W. affectionate. do we not laugh?" asks Shylock. And what is more ordinary in the child's life than his hunger for revenge and. like adults. indeed. An absolute of calculation and innocence. Specific adults know . the child who will mas­ turbate. the experience of being tickled? From a psycho­ analytic point of view it is curious that this common. the adult's tick­ ling of the child is an obviously acceptable form of sensuous excitement between parents and children in the family. perhaps universal. perverse scenario of being tickled. where they are ticklish-alerts us to the fact that these "precise points" are a kind of useless knowledge to the child. They require the enacted recognition of the other. and not surprising that once we look at it we can see so much. the child.

But of the two references to tickling in Freud (both in the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality). The word speaks of the precarious. at which plea­ sure becomes pain. or the real humiliation begins. It seems less certain whether the character of the pleasurable feeling evoked by the stimulus should be described as a . has no climax. and rarely what Freud called one of the "predestined erotogenic zones. because the tickling narrative. . as the mother says. a piece of personal history. " The Oxf ord English Dictionary cites. though we do not know what those are. will get hys­ terical. so acutely felt in tickling. " Other definitions describe a range of experience from excessive credulity to incontinence. of course. crazy . dependent on the adult to hold 1 and not to exploit the experience. tottering. insecure. The child. quite accurately and unobtrusively.ON KI S S IN G .10 - where the child is ticklish-it is. as Freud said of the dream­ work. the following: "In unstable equilibrium. nicely poised. almost antithetical. There can be no doubt that the stimuli which produce the pleasure are governed by special conditions. It has to stop. so to speak. And this means to stop at the blurred point. only too easy to find out-but it is always idiosyncratic. it is used as virtually synonymous with stroking: included. employing. above all. AND BEING BORED . among nineteen definitions of the word. and the child experiences an intensely anguished confusion. In English. A rhythmic character must play a part among them and the analogy of tickling is forced upon our notice. easily upset or overthrown. the meaning of the word tickle is. Freud writes: It is part of the skin or mucous membrane in which stimuli of a certain sort evoke a feeling of pleasure pos­ sessing a particular quality. unlike the sexual narrative. as part of the child's ordinary sensuous life. TICKLIN G . and so of the erotic. To tickle is. the child will be initiated in a distinctive way into the helplessness and disarray of a cer­ tain primitive kind of pleasure. " Through tickling. "the same means of representation for expressing con­ traries. Describing the characteristics of an erotogenic zone. to seduce. often by amusement. .

suddenly interrupts herself by saying to me. she only tickles me!" "We can cause laughing by tickling the skin.On Tickling .11 - "specific" one-a "specific" quality in which the sexual factor would precisely lie. the fantasy-of the experience? Certainly there is no immediate pressing biological need in this intent. " This same. at its most reassuring. which provokes the most careful questions. . "I can only think of you when I don't think of you. endlessly elusive child-elusiveness. that is. what is the most cautious assumption we can make about these specific pleasures called tickling and being tickled? In the elaborate repertoire of intrusions. But in the light of his uncertainty. the inverse of obsessionality-ends a session telling me. at its most unsettling. who cannot keep still for a moment. Perhaps in the cumula­ tive trauma that is development we have had the experience but deferred the meaning. a paradigm of the perverse contract? Does it not highlight. in which the final satisfaction is frustration? A girl of eight who keeps "losing her stories" in the session because she has too much to say. Psychology is still so much in the dark in questions of pleasure and unpleasure that the most cautious assumption is the one most to be recom­ mended. this delightful game.2 Freud is certain here only of what he does not know. only equally quickly to create another invitation. and mummy catches me. An extraordinary fact condensing so much of psychoanalytic inter­ est. but one of which so little is spoken. Is the tickling scene." Darwin noted of the only sensuous contact that makes one laugh. "When we play monsters. she never kills me. the impossibility of satisfaction and of reunion. not a unique representation of the over­ displacement of desire and. often frenetic contact that so quickly reinstates a distance. what is the quality­ that is to say. with its continual reenactment of the irresistible attraction and the inevitable repulsion of the object.

it compromises our fear. If civilization protects us. for James here. My Host the World In his chapter "Instinct" in Psychology: The BrieJer Course (1 892)..! James. But fear. of course. or rather the real fear that it entails. Hence the possibility of so much blindly optimistic philosophy and religion. Like Freud. but for different reasons. We may need an attack of mental disease as the only available reminder of "proper occa­ sions for fear.civilized life. William James writes: The progress from brute to man is characterised by nothing so much as by the decrease in frequency of proper occasions for fear. especially at its most irrational. civilization compromises our desire. George Santayana. Many of us need. This mental disease that James recom­ mends. for the passages that work for us. it has at last become possible for large numbers of people to pass from the cradle to the grave without ever having had a pang of genuine fear. partly from his own experience. he is wary of the progress in . in particular.2First Hates: Phobias in Theory His radical solutions were rendered vain by the conven­ tionality of his problems. or overprotects us.�n attack of mental disease to teach us the meaning' of the word. setting limits to the naive ambitions of metaphysics." Without proper occasions we lose the meaning of an important word. For Freud. In civilised life. is always looking for good transitions. should temper speculation. the absence of danger can make us unrealistic. perplexes James in .

First Hates
- 13 -

an interesting way; it connects for him three of his most consis­ tent preoccupations: blindness, optimism, and the doing of phi­ losophy. Because, unlike Freud, he doesn't see fear and desire as inextricable, he is more openly puzzled. Even though "a certain amount of timidity obviously adapts us to the world we live in,"he writes, "the fear paroxysm is surely altogether harmful to him who is its prey. "After considering the virtues of immo­ bility-the insane and the terrified "feel safer and more comfort­ able"in their "statue-like, crouching immobility" -James refers at the very end of his chapter on fear to "the strange symptom which has been described of late years by the rather absurd name of agoraphobia."After describing the symptoms, which "have no utility in a civilised man,"he manages to make sense of this puzzling new phenomenon only by comparing it to the way in which both domestic cats and many small wild animals approach large open spaces. "When we see this,"he writes, we are strongly tempted to ask whether such an odd kind of fear in us be not due to the accidental resurrection, through disease, of a sort of instinct which may in some of our more remote ancestors have had a permanent and on the whole a useful part to play. 2 The "disease"returns the patient to his instinctual heritage; but this heritage is now redundant because, in actuality, there is nothing to fear. Agoraphobics, James suggests, are living in the past, the evolutionary past ("the ordinary cock-sure evolu­ tionist," James remarks in his droll way, "ought to have no difficulty in explaining these terrors"}. 3 The agoraphobic is, as it were, speaking a dead language. So to understand agora­ phobia in James's terms, we have to recontextualize the fear, put it back in its proper place, or rather, time. There is nothing really irrational about phobic terror; it is an accurate recognition of something, something that Darwinian evolution can supply a picture for. Fear itself cannot be wrong, even if it is difficult to find out where it fits. A phobia nevertheless is, perhaps in both senses, an im­ proper occasion for fear, an enforced suspension of disbelief.

ON K I S S I N G ,

TICKLIN G ,

AND

BEING

BORED

- 14 -

James's description of the agoraphobic patient "seized with pal­ pitation and terror at the sight of any open place or broad street which he has to cross alone" is a vivid picture of a phobia as an impossible transition. And it can be linked-as a kind of cartoon-with one of James's famous notions of truth; the agoraphobic becoming, as it were, the compulsive saboteur of some of his own truth. "Pragmatism gets her general notion of truth," James writes in his book of that title, as something essentially bound up with the way in which one moment in our experience may lead us towards other moments which it will be worth while to have been led to. Primarily, and on the common-sense level, the truth of a state of mind means this function of a leading that is

worth while.4
The agoraphobic is the figure of the compromised prag­ matist. The threshold of experience between this one moment and the next is aversive. He wants to go somewhere-or, in James's more suggestive terms, be led somewhere-but he is unable to find out whether it is as worthwhile (in both senses) as he thinks. The terror, or the inability to hold the terror, preempts possible future states of mind, and so precludes their evaluation. A phobia, in other words, protects a person from his own curiosity. "Agoraphobia," Freud wrote in a letter to Wilhelm Fliess in 1 887, "seems to depend on a romance of prostitution. " Despite James's misgiving about its "rather absurd name," and despite its being Greeked for prestigious legitimation, agora­ phobia seems rather nicely named. The agora, after all, was that ancient place where words and goods and money were exchanged. Confronted with an open space, as James and Freud both agree, the agoraphobic fears that something nasty is going to be exchanged: one state of mind for another, one desire for another. But the phobia ensures a repression of opportunity, a foreclosing of the possibilities for exchange ("a projection is dangerous," the psychoanalyst Andre Green has written, "when it prevents the simultaneous formation of an introjection"; in a phobia one is literally unable to take in what one has invented).

First Hates
- 15 -

The agoraphobic, that is to say, knows-Freud would say unconsciously-what the space is for, or what he wants to use it for. It then ceases, as though by magic, to be an open space, or what James calls a pluralistic universe.5 It simply leads into the past, into the old world. James and Freud use explanation in quite different ways. For James the question is not so much, Is it true? as How would my life be better if I believed it? For Freud the first question­ the unconscious question, so to speak-is, What do I want? and then, What fantasies of truth do I need to legitimate it? But because for James there can never be any knowing beforehand, he cannot presume to universalize his conclusions. And this is because there is no end to them; in this sense he is a freer associationist than Freud. "It is enough to ask of each of us, " he concludes in his great talk "On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings," "that he should be faithful to his own opportunities and make the most of his own blessings, without presuming to regulate the rest of the vast field. " 6 The risk for the phobic person, as for the psychoanalyst, is that he has already used his explanations to delimit his opportunities.
. . . a face which inspires f ear or delight (the object of fear or delight) is not on that account its cause, but-one might say-its target. Ludwig Wittgenstein,

Philosophical Investigations

The question of where the fear belongs-or what it is worth­ while to fear-is one that occupies both the phobic person and his interpreter. Freud himself at one point speculated that child­ hood phobias of small animals and thunder could be "the atrophied remainders of congenital preparation for real dangers that are so clearly developed in other animals. " 7 If Freud and James agree here, with Darwinian common sense, that phobias are derivative forms of self-protection, that phobic terror is irrational only insofar as it has missed its target, they radically disagree about what there is to fear and where it comes from. They fill the agoraphobic space-its empty page, so to speak­ in quite different ways.

16 - James's open space.ON KISSING. "The anxiety felt in agoraphobia. TICKLING. to bring it forward. James's open space may be full of potential predators. so to speak. AND BEING BORED . What the phobic fears. is frozen into terror. the majority of phobias go back to an anxiety of this kind felt by the ego in regard to the demands of the libido. any occasion might be a proper occasion for fear. " Freud writes in 1 926. evokes phylo­ genetic memory. If one loses the replica. quite unwittingly. (a subject that has been less thoroughly studied) seems to be the ego's fear of sexual temptation-a fear which. As far as can be seen at present. it always smacks of the forbidden. in the Proustian sense. The pro- . but never known about. projected into hiding. which hoards the past. one might lose the original. appears to invite an illicit reenactment from the past. unconsciously. call parts of the self-insofar as it is experienced as intolerable has to be put somewhere else. These phobic scenarios are like antiepiphanies in which memory. So the phobic scenario. but in Freud's open space a person may turn into a predator. rather than being released into images and atmospheres. in Freud's view. Freud's open space evokes personal memory (and memory for Freud is always of desire and the parented past). There it can be acknowledged in terror. the phobia is reliable. can be the one place in a person's life where meaning apparently never changes. Whereas the epiphany. The phobia. Desire-or what we can. in a different language. Given the insistence and the mobility of the libido in Freud's account.8 For the agoraphobic the open space represents the setting for a possible incestuous sexual encounter punishable by castra­ tion. a place where. is contingent and surprising. must be connected in its origins with the fear of castration. but also its mod­ ification in ways that cannot be anticipated. is not only the replication of this truant past. for the agoraphobic. Because sexuality begins in incestuous fantasy. but this depends upon one's never knowing what the meaning is. after all. For the agoraphobic to go out is to give the past a future. a memory could be cast.

And what is profound. with some satisfaction. of course-as in a phobia-about the repressions that break down. He does it successfully and with real pleasure. or rather of interest. He thinks about this but is clearly much less impressed by it than I am. you'll never be able to join the RAF!" Understanding that he will never be able to be a pilot. a childhood memory. that he always sat in the circle). A "no" from a person in analysis is quite as ambiguous as a "yes . So it is as though. " And then he adds. " Sigmund Freud. sarcastically. and the oculist. Freud will imply. It is clear to both of us that this is something of an ambiguous triumph. So I try to impress him by adding that the theater is a place where you mustn't fly but must look at other . which he has always "loved"-remembers. he is "shattered.17 - foundest way of recognizing something. but not for us. and one of the tests he is made to do "to find out about his coordination" is to look down something like a telescope and with his hands put the dog he sees into the cage that he sees. is through hiding them from oneself. We know only. At about age eight he goes to the oculist. I remind him that his terror in the theater-the fantasy he desperately wards off." says to him.First Hates . our unbearable self-knowledge leads a secret life. or the only way of recognizing some things. and so "sees" instead of the play-is that he will jump off the balcony (he had confessed to me in our first meeting. from a psycho­ analytic point of view. a "benign man. For Freud. in an otherwise desultory session. what has to be explained is not why someone is phobic. " "although until that moment it had never occurred to me that I wanted to. but how anyone ever stops being anything other than phobic. as though there is self-knowledge. is not only what one has hidden but also the ways one has of hiding it. that as an adult he has always been really excited about traveling in airplanes. Constructions in Analysis An acutely claustrophobic man in his early forties-although his phobia has increasingly focused on the theater. "Well.

I think. with his wish to enact forbidden versions of himself.18- people. then the theater-or. at least from an oedipal perspective. I'm thinking. As a child one may experience as forbidden simply the versions of oneself that turned up under the blank stare of one's parents' blind spots. "Actors seem like people who are permitted to do forbidden things.ON KISSING. And forbidden versions. "So you might be wondering in the theater. slightly mocking me. looking would become being seen. Flying would turn into falling. How can I get them to look at me?" He mumbles agreement and then says. and the parts you are allowed to play. The child's most puzzling and urgent projects-which . He says he remembers reading about a play in Italy in which the actors came onstage and looked at the audience "in­ stead. If flying had represented possibility for the eight-year-old boy. among a lot of other things. and possibility. through terror. and I find myself thinking. any confined space-was the place to be. what you can put together. performance would turn into failure. "I've always been waiting for someone to ask me to do something I'm not allowed. " I say. AND BEING BORED . and that even if someone is an oculist it doesn't mean that he necessarily has good eyesight. with one of my own words. means both those disapproved of by the parents and those outside the parents' orbit of recognition. in this context. was inspired by the forbidden. "You mean the actors are rivals. indeed. that he has told me what he has come to analysis for. The theater was the place where he was connected. " I say. to play other parts. Why not agree to die and see what happens? The childhood memory that helped us push off into the conversation is clearly very suggestive in terms of the relation­ ship between what you can see. but once they've invited me then it's allowed!" After this new description of the trap there is a pause in which it seems as though we are both mulling the last bit over. He then says that he feels some­ thing has really ha"ppened in this session-and certainly his words no longer feel like spectators-but he adds that he knows that when he goes to the theater next he will feel that he is going to die of anxiety. TICKLING. good enough to be able to fly." And he says with some quickness in his voice.

as WilliamJames wrote. making it a frame for something that seems true." then phobic horror is a baffling of the awareness of expectation. If horror. One of this man's pictures of himself as an adolescent was of someone auditioning in a completely empty theater. broadly speaking. but as though this was quite normal. the phobic object or situation is an essential factor. quite sensibly. because it signifies access-and a person's attitude to this proximity-to otherwise repressed states of mind or versions of oneself. Com­ position at the second degree consists of bringing back certain elements which lie outside the rectangle. One might say. She would do absurd things to enrage her teachers like sitting in lessons with a shoe on her head. like an unwanted guest­ who has to live in a state of continual internal vigilance to ensure that he will always be fair-might choose an object rather than a situation. Bonnard wrote in his notebook: "The practice of cropping of the visual field almost always gives something which doesn't seem true. He hovers in his terror. And clearly the availability of. he assumes.19 - can pursue him through life like Frankenstein's monster­ sometimes come to life in this no-man's-land. that making the transition will break the frame rather than. A situation phobia is a controlled temp­ tation. As we talked about this for several weeks-linking it to the life she led in her family-I began to suggest to her in bits and pieces ." 9 The phobic person is suspended between the first and the second degree of com­ position. as Bonnard intimates. unable to make that decisive transition. is a "vertiginous baffling of the expectation. A phobic situation. that a person who imagines that his hate could turn up at any moment. for example. Describing the way he made sketches. but a phobic object can turn up unexpectedly. A sixteen-year-old girl was referred to me for provocative behavior in school. But in thinking about phobias it's worth taking seriously the difference between a phobic situation and a phobic object like an insect.First Hates . She was popular with her peers. who seemed to view her with a rather wary admiration. there is nothing but paralysis or flight. the potential for access to. one can choose to avoid.

Her references to spiders were sporadic. She was playing. that in order to find out whether she could like people she had to find the hate in them. After one rather tedious version of this interpretation she mentioned that she was terrified of spiders. " After what seemed like months of endlessly reported dreams she arrived one day for a session to tell me that she had had "the spider dream" again. It began to occur to me that she could manage a self that hated only if it was incarnated in someone else. and at the point at which her curiosity was aroused she would say. and she grinned. and it had been evident from talking to her that she was very much a parental child whose parents were always effectively saying to her. AND BEING BORED .ON KISSING. indeed. I asked her if she hated me when I bored her. partly. "You mustn't get cross. she often had nightmares about them. and it was clear she wanted something from me. as it were. because she needed to know that her hate was alive and well. I should add. quite rightly. By being pro­ vocative it was as though she was continually expelling this version of herself. I said that sometimes I might need to but that I would always warn her so she could put her fingers in her ears. It was after establishing this ritual that I noticed that she was becoming interested in her dreams. Her first reaction was to say that she was always giving in to things. "You go to bed and you never know what you're going to see.20 - that being provocative was one of her ways of getting to know people. hunt the monster to discover what the worst version of the other person was that she was going to have to comply with. in my attempted interpretations. because we . As I repeated this in different ways I noticed that occasionally she became curious. and also that to kill one might confirm the murderous power of her hatred). As she said. and when I referred to them she told me categorically that this was something she was not prepared to talk about. that none of this was helping. but in the dream scenes them­ selves. I asked her if anything had hap­ pened recently that she had given in to and regretted having done so. not. TICKLING. She would then be able to regulate what she heard. but also keeping it alive and close at hand (she told me that even though spiders terrified her she never killed them. I think.

"So a spider's a bit like turning on a tap?" and I agreed. " I said. however absurd this may seem to himself or other people. it baffles inquiry. Just as. The Claim o Reason f A useful way to think about a symptom is to ask how you could teach someone to have it (what would I need to do.21 - need your help. For the phobic person the object or the situation that inspires the terror is beyond skepticism. " Say some more." I said that I thought that probably every week she gave in to lots of things almost without noticing. . In a phobia a person explicitly pretends to a private language. the person thinks that he knows where he is. and that if she came across a spider she was suddenly reminded of how cross she was and how much those feelings frightened her. Sometimes. as though answering the question felt like playing his game. Ignorance of myself is something I must work at. Stanley Cavell. to persuade someone that open spaces are terrifying?) . All his skep­ ticism is kept for the interpreters. The phobia reveals virtually nothing about the object except its supposed power to frighten." But then she added-as though this was an odd bit of the answer-that in school the previous day the teacher had asked the class a question and she had answered it. there was a pause and then she said. when she felt really insulted. so. I wondered if secretly she had bitterly resented this. She said. she needed a spider so much that she had to dream one up. with the phobic object or situation. or who would I have to appear to be. there is no repetition. as she had yesterday with the teacher. She replied that she had bitten her tongue at lunch. to a secretive exemption from shared meanings. he will behave as though he knows exactly what it is. only a wish for the idea of repetition as a way of familiarizing the present. in actuality. it is something studied like a dead language. I said that I thought the dream might be a protest and that in order to get really furious she had to find a spider to let her do it. Better the devil you know than an angel you don't. spiders are good to hate people with". "Yes. "You mean if I was a spider I could be really horrible.First Hates . She listened to this intently and then said.

even in his avoid­ ance. like virtually nothing else. as in Jekyll and Hyde (Stevenson's tale was published in 1 886). from being the one who terrorizes. theaters. it is like a state of somatic con­ viction. constituted by terror. TICKLING. in his own mind.ON KISSING. As the victim of terror the subject is as far as possible. AND BEING BORED . or open spaces. " the psychoana­ lyst Roger Money-Kyrle remarked. To be petrified by a pigeon is a way of making it new." Julia Kristeva writes in Powers of Horror. But he is sustaining a relationship. . It is as though the object is issuing the orders. shows the capacity of the body to be gripped by occult meaning. " 1 1 If a phobia has the effect of empowering and disempower­ ing a person at the same time-like a kind of quotidian sublime. a way of making ordinary places and things extremely charged. the very certainty of the phobic person that robs him of his autonomy (of course Freud would say that being a person robs him of his autonomy). "The phobic object. and the body responds even in anticipation of its presence. insects. 1 0 or from the notion that this could be a matter for decision. filling him with terror and rendering him helpless-it is also. A phobia. rodents. paradoxically. to an experience without the mobility of perspectives. are not killers-had to be categorized. like an unconscious estrangement tech­ nique. But those who made category mistakes-pigeons. "is precisely avoidance of choice. The phobia is eroticization not so much of danger as of signifi­ cance. self-pathologizing-is that it appears to place the par­ ticipants in a structure of preexisting knowledge and authority. it tries as long as pos­ sible to maintain the subject far from decision". after all. "Such avoidances.22 - But it is. The creation toward the end of the nineteenth century of these new sexual objects-the familiar phobias became "symptoms" in the 1 870s-the discovery that a panic akin to sexual excitement was felt by certain people when confronted with birds. Before the phobic object he submits to something akin to possession. The advantage of pathologizing-and. or of irrational selves inhabiting respectable selves. "are superimposed upon seekings. of course. by the same token. could be used as evidence of the idea of an unconscious mind.

"we turn it into a concealed form of rationality. rather than just very discriminating?" or "Are we phobic of all the things we never do and all the places we never go. thinking with the sound turned off. as it were. And these theories. and for his double. for example. to take the paradox out of them (phobia. as reactive . we merely compromise our ability to diag­ nose irrationality by withdrawing the background of rationality needed to justify any diagnosis at all.First Hates . organize themselves around a fantasy of the impos­ sible. what can they do for each other beyond providing mutual reassurance? Symptoms are a way of thinking about difficult things. phobias provide a useful focus for what Donald Davidson has described as "the underlying paradox of irrationality". As symptoms. maintains a sensible uni­ verse). of their categories. "if we explain it too well. including. or rather the mixing. the interpreter. One of the reasons. is a story about where the wild things are. while if we assign inco­ herence too glibly. "What would I have to say about one of my dislikes to make you think I was phobic of it. For the phobic person the phobia guarantees the differ­ ence-marks out a boundary-between the acceptably safe and the dangerously forbidden and exciting. Because Freud refused to assign incoherence too glibly-realizing that the rational and the irrational have to double for each other-he began to describe curiosity and knowledge. could seem like a parody of the diagnostic process. of course. the unacceptable in its most extreme form. as it were?"). like a psychoanalytic theory. " he writes. perhaps. often even to the people who have them. Practicing the martial arts of purity and danger. the loss. ritualized as taboo. The catastrophe that the phobic and his interpreter are both trying to avert is the collapse of their distinctions. like their phobic paradigm. the knowledge that is psychoanalytic theory. " 1 2 One of the functions of a phobia is to fix such distinctions. unconsciously phobic. A phobia.23 - The very absurdity of phobias. that Freud was so intrigued by phobias-sev­ eral of the great case histories are analyses of phobias-was that the making of a phobia was the model for the making of a theory. between the rational and the irrational (so one could ask.

of course. and oedipally. " his extraordinary paper of 1 925. an attempt to master the phobia-the first recognition­ that by inaugurating consciousness depletes it. it expels whatever within itself becomes a cause of unplea­ sure. " Freud writes in "Instincts and Their Vicissitudes" ( 1 91 5) . 'introjects' them . the forbidden incestuous desires. there are just collections of words that seem to do justice to the complexity of what we feel). in part. where we put the objects and desires we wish did not belong to us. an elsewhere for those desires and objects that bring unpleasure. AND BEING B O RED . slightly later. one has to become phobic. It is the place.O N KISSIN G. " 1 3 The first world we find outside is. what is alien to the ego and what is external are. In order to become what Freud thinks of as a person. If terror is the object of knowledge. which means in Freud's terms for the ego to sustain itself. to begin with. and. in this process of distributing the bad things. is depleting itself in the hopeless task of keeping itself what Freud . knowledge is counterphobic. TICKLIN G . on the other hand. The assumption is that at the very beginning unpleasure is soon intolerable and spells death and that consciousness is of unpleasure. And this matches. And that world we make outside is the world we need to get away from. and one can become phobic only by believing that there are an external and an internal world that are discrete. "In so far as the objects which are presented to it are sources of pleasure. pre-oedipally. The "bad"-or Melanie Klein would say the hate-is. the excess of desire that threatens to destroy the ego and. or one of the places. the good/bad distinction (a different way of putting it might be to say: there's no such thing as an internal world-or an external world. depends upon expelling everything experienced as bad into the outside world. a repository for the terror inside us. The ego needs a place elsewhere-which will be called outside-and another place elsewhere that Freud will call "the repressed unconscious." which is inside.24 - to fear. the object. identical. For the ego to sustain itself as good. . But in Freud's terms the ego." Freud writes in "Nega­ tion. "What is bad. "the ego takes them into itself. To be at home in the world we need to keep it inhospitable. .

as it were-that has to be refused. A phobia is a conviction that bad things are unspeak­ able. what is unbearable about oneself and where is one going to put it? And the consequent preoccupation becomes. With this picture. then it is part of the developmental project to find a phobia. as it were. a refusal to be left out). among other things. so emptied of oneself ? The phobic object becomes the promise­ the (unconscious) gift returned. almost. If. a way of describing the fact that there are things we didn't know we could say. And this makes tacit understandings for the phobic person always dan­ gerous. or rather enacted. But of course for Freud fantasies-and the fantasy that makes a phobia-are forms of magical thinking. and one that is inevitably paranoid (paranoia being. But the refusal. is a way of keeping the promIse. once one has supposedly got rid of it. of the misplaced persons in oneself. because each person has a limit to what he can take (not to mention the fact that there is a tyrannically omniscient fantasy at work here of what constitutes a "whole" person). so to speak. In Freud's view-conceived of. its first relationship. psychoanalysis can become unwittingly punitive. If you articulate the terror for the phobic person he . The idea of the unconscious is. Finding hate-objects may be every bit as essential as finding love-objects. " The developmental question. how is one going to live in a state of such impoverishment. of course. one might say. before the indi­ vidual could describe it like this-is. one is fundamentally unable-or ill­ equipped in childhood-to contain oneself.First Hates . the ego depends upon its phobia. as Freud believed. It is. and therefore that the unspeakable is always bad. to localize the impossi­ ble in oneself elsewhere.25 - calls a "pure pleasure ego. In Freud's view. though. In this psychoanalytic picture the treatment is a method of retrieval. in the phobic fantasy you convince a part of yourself that the bad things are elsewhere only because there is really no else­ where (or the only real elsewhere is the place you cannot put parts of yourself ). but if one can tolerate some of one's badness-meaning recognize it as yours-then one can take some fear out of the world.

confront the psychoanalyst very starkly.ON KISSING. TICKLING. Phobias. with the dilemma of cure. AND BEING BORED . Or to put it another way: the aim of psycho­ analysis is not to cure people but to show them that there is nothing wrong with them. for both the participants. that is to say.26 - may be persecuted by it again. is to produce interesting redescrip­ tions: redescriptions that the patient is free-can bear-to be interested in. The art of psychoanalysis. . and if you don't you collude with the notion that there is something truly unbearable.

The former of these often persists throughout life. Freud's preference here. is taken for granted by Freud. as it were. toward darkness but away from solitude. Walden An affinity for solitude is comparable only to one's affinity for certain other people. for example. is fraught with danger. " Freud writes. like the holding environ­ ment of early infancy. of its theoretical elaboration. both are involved when a child feels the absence of some loved person who looks after it­ its mother. contains only two references to solitude.3 On Risk and Solitude What sort of space is that which separates a man from his fellows and makes him solitary? I have found that no exertion of the legs can bring two minds much nearer to one another. and the risk. a repression of solitude. as opposed to his life. the death work all testify to Freud's conception of the human subject as profoundly solitary. Although narcissism. there is. What do we want most to dwell near to? Henry David Thoreau. like one's first experience of the other. "the first phobias relating to situa­ tions are those of darkness and solitude. that inner­ most thoughts will come to light. the index of the Standard Edition. as in dreams. It is perhaps the only risk of childhood whose counterpart in adult life he fails explicitly to consider. it is the phobia relating to solitude that for some people per­ sists throughout life. Discussing other "situation phobias" in the Introductory Lec­ tures. And yet one's first experience of solitude. It is as though solitude itself. reflects the fact that in his work. " 1 The absence of the visible and the absence of an object. perhaps. the dream. "In children. that is to say. Freud uses examples of various kinds of journey: . mourning. For this reason.

but only in the most speculative way. Freud. and journeys of the kind Freud mentions are usually spent in the presence of other people. Freud is overinsistent that we can tolerate solitude but silent about its dangers. are traveling toward death. but there is no question of our not being able to tolerate it under any conditions even for a moment. " Travelers. Solitude is a journey. TICKL ING. Winnicott's sense. too. and travel by rail and ship without anxiety. the infant by himself. that the dangers of solitude were linked in his mind with being dropped (the idea. whether they acknowledge it or not. but that happens so exceedingly seldom that it does not arise as a danger. uses here that most famous witnessed solitude of Hamlet's soliloquy. is the soliloquy of the unconscious. "The dramatist is using the same symbolic connection. perhaps. It is the infant waiting too long fqr his mother that is traveling toward death because. and it is clearly not gratuitous that Freud. a potentially fatal journey. Solitude. ' ''3 The dream. "when he speaks of the after-life as 'the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns. . as being like a journey. W. " he writes. and in the Introductory Lectures themselves he associates journeys with death. " he writes. " "is replaced in dreams by depar­ ture. is not only waiting for the mother. 2 Solitude does not occur to us.28 - We know that there is more chance of an accident when we are on a railway journey than when we stay at home­ the chance of a collision. but we don't think of these dangers. in the Sec­ tion " Symbolism in Dreams. was made anxious by traveling. has its dangers and in certain circumstances we avoid it. after all.ON KISSING. that a ship may go down. AND B EING BOR E D . unattended. we know. as we know. "Dying . in D. in which case there is a possibility of being drowned. From the logic of his examples we could infer. Sleep. he is in the solitary confinement of his body. for an infant in the absence of sufficient maternal care. It cannot be disputed that we should fall into the river if the bridge collapsed at the moment we were crossing it. of being dropped as an infant) . too. But it is worth remembering that the infant in the dark. to elucidate an element in the dream. by a train journey.

) I am . from persecution. He depends upon a reliable but ultimately elusive object that can appease but never finally satisfy him. the individual is attempting to find. that the patient is faced with the risk of entrusting himself. It is. or solely. or the shadow of an object. in states of solitude what does the adult depend upon? To what does he risk entrusting himself ? The risks involved in traveling that Freud described could be tolerated. there is an object. as a holding function. And in that setting we find. But dependence. "The subject. he suggested. by virtue of being so. we think. of course. "has never done anything other than demand. difficult to conceive in psychoanalytic terms of an absence that is not. The clamorously dependent infant with a sufficiently atten­ tive mother ends up. persecutory. But in the case of more serious kinds of risk-those which are not exclusively counterphobic-of which solitude can be one. again and again. So. but toward a replenish­ ing privacy.On R isk and Solitude - 29 - for example. Indeed. and through solitude his desire. somewhere. one of the aims of the analysis will be to reveal the full nature of the risk. But from the very beginning. In the induced regression of analytic treatment the patient is invited-to redescribe the "golden rule" -to hand over to the analyst something that we refer to. " 4 We fol­ low on in a curious solitude cl deux called the analytic situation. The patient's most difficult task will be fully to allow himself his symptomatology. minimal. often uncon­ sciously. In free association the patient takes the risk of not knowing what he is going to say. as an adult with a capacity for solitude. that which is beyond his omnipotent control but not. in actual terms. in some way. he could not have survived otherwise. does not simply dis­ appear. and we just follow on from there." Jacques Lacan writes. (A good example of this is Francis Bacon describing the point at which he needs to throw paint at his pictures as part of the process of composition. anticipatory. we assume. is not exclusively a state of anticipation. he has involved an object. so the normative story goes. because they were. Through desire the child discovers his solitude. quite unwittingly. for whom withdrawal is an escape not merely. after Winnicott.

TICKLING. as he had feared. He needed "a generous kind of negligence" with himself. although of course it could hardly be experienced in these terms. My patient could swim once the water was like an ordinary world-round-about-him. in his own words a "loner" and a "risk merchant. Iris Murdoch. but his being able to entrust himself to the water. truthful. which js always constituted by a fantasy of what has already been lost-only the impossible. was the omnipotence born of anxiety. apparently in control.30 - referring here not to compulsive risk-taking. or rather his body. . fearlessly passive. where the latter is not a hostile Other to be overcome.5 It is possible to be too concerned about oneself. the opposite of omnipotence here was not impotence. patience with the contingent. in his florid resumption of sexuality is both weaving and rending a veil around the new object. A sixteen-year­ old boy. there was more water to hold me up. when he could be "fearlessly passive" out of his depth. Standing within his depth. his pubescent body. at age ten.ON KISSING. when he eventually learned to swim after having been terrified of water: "I knew I was safer out of my depth because even though I couldn't stand. AND BEING BORED . is addictive-:-but to the ordinary risks of adolescence that extend into adult life. The heart of swimming is that you can float. whom she describes as picturing " 'knowledge as an attentive. would float. for example. The defense of vigilant self-holding precluded his being able to swim. it entrusts itself to its own experience." tells me in a session about the moment. This developmental process can be usefully understood in terms of epistemology. in her book on Sartre. ' Approaching knowledge of the object is the act in which the subject rends the veil it is weaving around the object. as we know. we might add along simi­ lar lines. It can do this only where. but more like an ordinary world-round­ about-us. " 6 In developmental terms the "hostile Other" can represent the failure of the holding environment. And the adolescent. For the boy the risk of learning to swim was the risk of discovering that he. compares him to his detriment with Adorno. " One of the central paradoxes for the adolescent is his discovery that only the object beyond his control can be found to be reliable.

to experiment with the rep­ resentations of it. this protection is both wished for and defied. . turned against it. and an object that is manifestly outside magical control. what crystallize in adolescence. Risks are taken as part of the mastery of noncompliance. It is from a posi­ tion of isolation that he or she launches out into what may result in relationships . The adolescent is essentially an isolate. . to endanger his body. These doubts are transferred on to the body. In puberty the adolescent develops what can be accurately referred to as a transference to his own body. . what return partly as enactment through risk. like the analyst in the transference. The adolescent repeats this struggle.31 - The infant depends on the mother and her care to prevent him from being out of his depth. The adolescent is repeat­ ing an essential phase of infancy. as it begins to represent a new kind of internal environment. Win­ nicott writes. discovers his capacity for solitude­ for a self-reliance that is not merely a triumph over his need for the object-is by taking and making risks. " 8 He does not mention the sense in which the body­ and this sense comes to consciousness at puberty-is by defini­ tion both a subjective object and an object objectively perceived. One way the adoles­ cent differentiates himself. For the adolescent. are doubts about the mother and the holding environment of infancy.On Risk and Solitude . but this is an achievement. a more solitary one. in adolescence. 7 The adolescent's body-and it is part of the adolescent project to inhabit and be inhabited by the body-can be experienced in its newfound sexuality as an object. uncon­ sciously. The infant becomes able to recognise and to welcome the existence of objects that are not part of the infant. at least until he or she has been able to establish the capacity for relating to objects that are outside mag­ ical control. isolation. the most familiar stranger. for the infant too is an isolate. To the adolescent it is. "relationships must first be tried out on subjective objects. as we know. As Winnicott has written. the adolescent begins to realize that the original mother is his body. and he does this out of the most primitive form of solitude. That is to say. He needs.

nor is he simply taking over her caregiving aspects. does his body represents to him. or what other kind of object. What kind of maternal and/or paternal object. and that the adolescent re-presents as mood and enact­ ment. and that his analyst finds more than a little difficult to deal with. as integral. he is alone in the presence of his own body. as it were. might ask of the mother. reliably alone in the presence of the body and its thoughts. Freud once said. Is it a safe house? Is it reliable? Does it have other allegiances? What does it promise. and one can imagine others. to the per­ versions.ON KISSING. that some perversions are an albeit sexualized way of keeping alive a risk-taking part of the self. And he will transfer on to his own body. A point comes in the treatment. TICKLING . if he could. . His capacity for a beneficent solitude will depend on his being able to entrust himself to his body as a sufficiently holding environment. since in the psychoanalytic literature an interest in risk-taking has usually been related to pathology. like the adult. It is this that the adolescent knows and refuses to know. for example. (We may wonder. recreate inside it. is alone. In the usual risks of adolescence-that stage of legitimate criminality and illicit solitude-the adolescent survives danger in a kind of virtual or "as if" absence of maternal care. and not only to the adolescent. ) It may be. and why does it refuse? These are the questions. conversely. for example. the holding environment of infancy in considerable detail. that the infant. has implications for treatment. And this. He is testing the representations of the body acquired through early experience. and how does he find out? In the taking and making of bodily risks he begins to constitute his own possibility for a benign solitude. as the risks he has failed to take with them. when the patient must be encouraged to do the thing he most fears. of course. what the absence of risk signifies in a person's life. The world and his body can feel as dangerous to the adolescent. and his own body becomes at this stage an acute preoccupation.32 - It is not that the adolescent IS attempting to "own his body" -that absurd commodity of ego-psychology-as part of his separation from the mother. When the adolescent. AND BEING BORED .

From adolescence onward the link between risk and solitude becomes a vivid and traumatic issue.33 I paid the price of solitude But at least I'm out of debt. But the pressing question of risk is clearly bound up with something that certain psychoanalysts after Freud have seen as central to early development: a capacity for concern. what constitutes a risk for us-our own personal repertoire of risks-is an important clue about what it is that we do value. And one of the insistent themes in his writing. by virtue of being writing. riven with crosscurrents and packed with contradiction. It is a paradox of some interest that although psychoanalysis was. like Freud's. where else can we go in psychoanalytic theory for descriptions of a benign disregard of objects that extends into adult life? I am not saying that Winnicott. in his writing. It is.On Risk and Solitude . about the relationship between justice and love. Indeed. indeed. But I am saying that Win­ nicott's writing. part of our tradi­ tional morality to assume-and this is reflected in Kleinian theory-that concern for other people is integral to a good life. did not mention concern. "Dirge" Adolescence. develop­ ment depended on the capacity to relinquish or suspend concern for the object. Bob Dylan. or make conscious. one of the few developmental stages he dared name was a Stage of Concern. recapitulates something of infancy but in dramatically modified form. for Winnicott. and this is one of the many things that distinguishes him from his critics and followers. however. We create risk when we endanger something we value. It is therefore another interesting paradox in the development of psychoanalysis to note how much. So to understand. Nor am I saying that I think Winnicott was a proto-Nietz­ schean-although I do believe he has a truly frightening and exhilarating theory of development. and it also enjoins us to consider the plea­ sures of carelessness. though it is usually . there is no explicit or coercive description in Freud's work of what constitutes a good life. as we know. is. from the very beginning. whenever we test the relationship between thrills and virtues.

These two phenomena do not come into relation with each other till the mother and child live an experi­ ence together. is the result of the object's demand-or assumed demand-for concern. I think of the process as if two lines came from opposite directions. he has created out of desire what he has. " 1 0 If she insists on being a real person." whatever that might mean? .34 - understated and always qualified. AND BEING BORED . found. The mother. and the idea that she would like to be attacked by a hungry baby. liable to come near each other. she 'brings the world' to the infant and is the invisible agent of his needs. The False Self enacts a kind of dissociated regard or recognition of the object. Optimally the mother adapts collaboratively to the infant's needs. What Winnicott calls the False Self is invented to manage a prematurely important object. So how does the infant get to feel "genuine concern. "the infant is almost oblivious to the mother as a person. from the infant's point of view. At the very beginning. what we are starving ourselves of by being too concerned about ourselves. in fact. The first unwitting risk of infancy is the infant's being entrusted to the mother's care. The mother has a breast and the power to produce milk. If they overlap there is a moment of illusion-a bit of experience which the infant can take as either his halluci­ nation or a thing belonging to external reality. from Winnicott's point of view. is that concern for an object is easily a compliant act and always potentially an obstacle to passionate intimacy and personal development. the object is taken seriously. Pathology. for the infant. TICKLING. in Winni­ cott's terms. for example. in a good feed. And this has interesting implications for the relationship that increasingly preoccupied Winnicott as he got older: the relationship one has with oneself. is of course not what we would think of as a real person. We could wonder. concern is always spurious.ON KISSING. but not by a person. is shown concern. then the infant or young child has to invent a false self to deal with her. 9 It is a moment of illusion because. As Stephen Mitchell puts it. to create what Winnicott calls a state of illusion: the baby has instinctual urges and predatory ideas.

introducing his 1 957 paper "Psychoanalysis and the Sense of Guilt. " in Winnicott's view. he claims in a rather disin­ genuous piece of redescription. derived. and this is intimately related to the opportunity for reparation. develop. Thus." he writes. The infant. in which his own distinctive additions are character­ istically understated. his own moral values. " 1 1 In this apparently rather reassuring account the child's innate morality. From Klein. "Those who lack moral sense"­ which is different from a moral sense-"have lacked at the early stages of their development the emotional and physical setting which would have enabled the capacity for guilt sense to have developed. Those who hold the view that morality needs to be inculcated teach small children accordingly. like his symptomatology. "a capacity for guilt sense builds up in the individualin rel to the mother. that in Winnicott's view development does not happen in the service of morality. morality happens in the service of development. That is to say. personal development necessitates a certain moral opportunism. The child's own moral values. he says. being ruthless it � . unforced.On Risk and Solitude . the rudimentary virtues of coopera­ tion and imaginative empathy. rather. work for him only insofar as they protect his growth." he says that he will "attempt to study guilt feeling not as a thing to be inculcated but as an aspect of the development of the individual . though. But this story of the fluent passionate life quite soon complicates into disillusionment. It is worth not­ ing. "naturally. this ruthlessness for Winnicott is not sadism-does not include a sexual pleasure in hurting-but is simply the way the infant. . the child's original goodness. from Klein's work. simply turn up. " Win­ nicott offers a simple sequence. he had understood that "the primitive love impulse has an aggressive aim. and they forgo the pleasure of watching morality develop naturally in their children. . if he is enabled.35 - Winnicott posits a "primitive ruthlessness" to characterize the infant's desire. who are thriving in a good setting that is provided in a personal and individual way. begins slowly to register the mother as sepa­ rate and begins to feel guilty. carelessly loves the mother. " "Gradually.

TICKLING. and the gratitude and sense of indebtedness it implies. First. in a brief paragraph that con­ tradicts the rest of his paper. which Winnicott will eventually rede­ scribe in the most unexpected way. is irrele­ vant." who. acceptance of responsibility by the infant for the fantasized ravages of his desire. " This benign circle relies upon the mother. is apparently exempt from the benign circle he has described. in a way he doesn't explain. there is the working through of this regret and fear. Ruthlessness gives way to ruth. to a figure he calls the "creative artist. one assumes. Characterized by his ruthlessness. there is the instinctual experience of a wholehearted feed. which is referred to as guilt. The benign circle. because it is imagined by the infant as an act of robbery and damage. simply the creation of an obstacle.36 - carries with it a variable quantity of destructive ideas unaffected by concern. " It is assumed that there is regret built into desire. which takes the infant to the fourth stage of the "true restitutive gesture. AND BEING BOR E D . Reparation could be merely the unwillingness to tolerate the unknown consequences of one's actions. sec­ ond. and so it is crucial that the mother can respond to the child's wish. the artist's particular kind of socialization "ob­ viates the need for guilt feeling and the associated reparative and restitutive activity that forms the basis of ordinary construc- . 12 It's worth noting that a circle takes you back to where you started from. in a way that Klein her­ self never emphasized. Only if the mother accepts reparation is the infant able. follows this pattern. " He describes the innumerable repetitions spread over a period of time. who has in fact dis­ pensed with this circle altogether." 1 3 But Winnicott then refers. of a vicious circle-and which consti­ tutes Klein's depressive position. according to Winnicott. unconcern to concern. third. "on the mother's capacity to survive the instinctual moment. according to Win­ nicott. a preemptive strike against the future. which he calls the "benign circle"-the opposite. "to accept responsibility for the total fantasy of the full instinctual impulse that was previously ruthless. For this person reparation. in that telling phrase.ON KISSING. It depends absolutely. to make up. and so to be there to receive and understand the true reparative gesture.

or rather. " 15 In terms of the rhetoric of his statement. for example. to forestall. his own original and disturbing version of development. for the sake of discussion. Winnicott then presents us with what we must call. authentic by virtue of his noncompliance. meaning as it does "to meet on the way. to prevent or dispose of in advance. Winnicott says. what would his work be like? In this quite sudden and surprising interruption of his text Winnicott is suggesting an alternative to the depressive position. as it is in Klein's Depressive Position. in a psychoanalytic setting. Interestingly. that he suffers an intense and formative anguish over this that can be allayed only by his reparative gestures." is one in which he has noticed guilt but has found ways of preempting it. it is always idealized). But Winnicott is using the figure of the artist here to allow himself. in such circumstances. " Obviate is an interesting word here. achieve more than guilt-driven labour. or even may despise the feelings of concern that motivate a less creative person. was this kind of creative artist. I think it is fair to say that most of us would rather think of ourselves as creative artists than as endlessly involved in what Winnicott calls. He has refused to feel guilty. to feel hampered by it. as the most real person. rather than compul­ sively reparative. Winnicott concludes his eleven­ and-a-half-line section " The Creative Artist" in an appropriately tantalizing way: "Ordinary guilt-ridden people find this bewil­ dering yet they have a sneaking regard for ruthlessness that does in fact. in an implicit critique of Klein's entire work. who. " 1 6 What are we to make of this? We know that Winnicott shares the post-Romantic idealization of the artist as exemplary man. this paper was delivered as one of six public lectures at the Institute of Psycho-Analysis in London to celebrate the cente­ nary of Freud's birth the same year that Klein's seminal essay . If the psychoanalyst. which "obviates the need for guilt feeling. "guilt-driven labour" (wherever suffering is moralized. Having already redescribed Klein's apparently fundamental concept in which the infant begins to recognize that the object that he destroys in fantasy is the object that he loves.On Risk and Solitude - 37 - tive work. " 14 The artist's life then. the cre­ ative artist. "may in fact fail to under­ stand.

Hatred of and disregard for the object are aided and abetted by the object's collusive . And this provides us with another way of looking at perversions. in perverse sadomasochistic contracts. but to make possible real contact with a real object. It is.ON KISSING. contributes in to the subject. becomes real-changes. entails relinguishing concern for the object. the mother. But the claiming of one's solitude. But the object. So the second developmental risk. that is to say. recreated in the analytic set­ ting. " 1 7 If the object can survive the full blast of the subject's hatred. By diminishing one's regard for the object-ceasing to overprotect the object from oneself-real contact is made. which is inextricable from this battle. TICK L ING. significantly. Only through our development of the capacity to treat people as objects can they become real for us. But this process as Winnicott describes it involves a curious paradox: only by suspending concern for the object is the object estab­ lished as real. Two solitudes are established. people's resilience that makes them real for us. according to its own properties. is a ruthless act. involves the infant and child's entrusting himself to the mother's holding environment. In these ways the object develops its own autonomy and life and. It is as though. in Winnicott's language. only by not caring for the object-hating it wholeheartedly-can we get to know it (as a subject). a subject about which. from a subjec­ tive object to an object more objectively perceived-only through being destroyed in fantasy and yet being seen to survive the hatred. "It is the destruction of the object that places the object outside of the area of the subject's omnipotent control. The paper signifies the deferred birth of Winnicott's distinctive developmental theory. not reconstituted by the subject's reparation but constituted by its own survival. as it were. if it survives. The first risk of development. AND BEING BORED . the process Winnicott describes is short-circuited. in this overly schematic account. Winnicott has little explicitly to say.38 - "Envy and Gratitude" was published. then the person can conceive of the object as beyond his power and therefore as fully real. Winnicott sees development as involving increasingly sophisticated forms of disregard for the object.

an environment. There was the primary ruthless desire of infancy-an elemental state of mind-that had. Indeed. which Winnicott in his later work regarded as an intrinsically creative process.On Risk and Solitude . Clearly. " Winnicott writes in his curious celebration. the risk of establishing one's solitude is the risk of one's potential freedom. " 18 And far from suggesting that there is anything wrong with such a person. Development itself. It is the solitude of being separate that they cannot risk. An obstacle is created by the sadomasochistic couple at the point at which they might. in Winnicott's lan­ guage. in Winnicott's own words. a terror of the absence of dependence. "it may be said that some have no capacity for guilt. And creativity-what Winnicott later called creative living­ involved the search for. The risk in destructiveness is that it may not be withstood. to some degree. who has dispensed with reparation and who. a medium. was bound up for him with a capacity for ruthlessness. That is to say. the need to make reparation binds one to objects. and attempt to establish. a relationship that could survive the person's most passionate destructiveness. beyond each other's omnipotent control.39 - agreement. The figure Winnicott calls the creative artist is certainly determined not to be thwarted by concern for other people. Winnicott is quite clear that for him this figure of the artist. is a kind of ego-ideal. "Of the artist. move over from being subjective objects for each other to being real. he or she may be thought of as somebody with a certain kind of primary rela- . or even psychopathy. There is also. So where does Winnicott's enigmatic creative artist fit into this. agrees to be destroyed or damaged. "may despise feelings of concern that motivate a less creative person"? We cannot ignore the equation here of concern with diminished creativity. the object does not survive-robustly refuse to be dominated-but capitulates. one should remember. to be carried forward into adult life. some of whose charac­ teristics are usually associated in psychoanalysis with perver­ sion. So what is described in the psychoanalytic litera­ ture as a perverse contract-the master and slave configuration of sadomasochism-is a self-thwarting attempt to undo a sym­ biotic bond.

insist on its importance. Freud tells us-that most solitary representa­ tion-the body must not be disturbed. the solitude in which what could never have been anticipated appears. In the dream. He relinquishes an environment of exter­ nal objects and becomes the seed of himself. " The implication is that speaking-involvement with other people-would have held off this nurturing solitude in which his work could grow. or of the body as intrusive object. " 20 From the facilitating object to the object as usurping presence: somewhere here the analyst finds himself. one "yields to the risk of the absence of time. The excessive proximity of the object. or could be. The good-enough envi­ ronment of the body can be taken for granted. "so as not to drink out of everybody's cistern. in the solitude of concentration. we must not wake up to it.40 - tionship with himself. A productive solitude. In states of absorption. the other object that disappears is the body. after a time it always seems as though they want to banish me from myself and rob me of my soul. AND B EI N G B ORED . placed in the patient's transference.ON KISSI N G . at last my solitude has closed in and I am in my work like a pit in its fruit. and in this context desire becomes a remembering. is linked with a quality of attention. TICKLI N G. as it does in states of desire and illness. and I do not think as I really think. When I am among the many I live as the many do. But what of the . "That is why I go into solitude. in Maurice Blan­ chot's words. Twenty Proverbs Writing to Countess de Solm-Laubach on August 3. I have not pronounced a single word for weeks. Perhaps the artist has the courage of his perversions? In my solitude I have seen things very clearly which are not true. " 19 A fertile solitude is a benign forgetting of the body that takes care of itself. a common experience: "except for two short interruptions. it is most reliably present by virtue of its absence. is always a preemptive presence. 1 907. the poet Rilke expressed in extreme form what may be. " Nietzsche wrote. Antonio Machado. It does not.

unimping­ ing presence of the mother who would cover the risks. the analytic situation? Although the wish for solitude can be a denial of dependence. as we say. It is a significant measure of difference. language. in his own psychoanalytic terms. simply "on our own. the good internal object. nor in detail of what Masud Khan has called "the infant-in-care alone with himself. mother is always there presiding over our solitude. has an impoverished vocabulary for states of plenitude that are not considered pathological. For Freud sol­ itude could be described only as an absence. He does not. he can lose himself in a game. of course. and optimally.41 - journey from dependence to the wish for solitude. a wish that takes us beyond. our constitu­ tive psychoanalytic fictions-the unconscious. and psychoanalysis. the solitude that only he can know? . of a solitude that was consti­ tuted as a full presence rather than as a lack.On Risk and Solitude . the body and its destiny. And still the question remains: to what do we risk entrust­ ing ourselves in solitude? Although God is no longer our per­ petual witness. the developmental process. " 21 The precursor of the capacity for solitude is the child in the reliable. the case that the patient comes to analysis to reconstitute his solitude through the other. we have our own available ghosts. for Winnicott only as a presence. Freud could not conceive. speak of the child alone in the presence of his father. of course. " Is it not. For Winnicott the capacity to be alone depended upon the earlier experience of the child alone in the presence of the mother. If the mother is there. a capacity for solitude may be its fullest acknowledgment. But the human subject in Freud-a desiring solitude­ lives between absence and conflict. in Winnicott's work. after all. Perhaps in solitude we are. or at least outside.

" 2 The ego is appointed. Composure would begin as the way the child responds. and apparently to differing degrees. . The ego composes the body in fantasy. one makes it safe to have an excited body. the "hysteric" simulates its absence. in the Freudian story. instinctual life sustaining the organism and yet throwing it into disarray. in the face of the child's desire for her. rede­ scribe some of the familiar psychoanalytic categories in terms of the subject's conscious and unconscious attitudes to his or her composure: the "pervert" flirts with his composure. can be seen as stories or scenarios in which. So those most furtively absorb­ ing and exciting ideas. the spectacle of an excited body. it is the seat of composure. through careful disguise. 1 as though what is to be received is always potentially in excess. for example. and so on. to the intimated demand by the mother. Composure becomes a pre­ emptive strike-a kind of machine inside the ghost-against this fundamental disarray. The idea of composure can be seen as integral to Freud's fiction of the ego. An original clamorousness becomes a calculated social poise. some­ how to diminish the trauma of the body. as it were.On Composure - 43 - as it has always been over issues of self-possession-the prob­ lem and the pleasure of pleasure. that the child alter the form of its self­ presentation. masturbation fantasies. by the same token. or rather. One could. Desire is always staged. with characteristic mis­ giving. " so. to become the child's most paradoxical belonging. the body has to lose its overwhelming immediacy for the child. For Freud stimulation was impingement. the "obsessional" parodies it. at least initially. In the course of development. Jean Laplanche has extended Freud's sense of the individual's radical besiegement with his concept of "the attack of the drives on the ego. a distinctive awkwardness that bears witness to the child's struggle for acceptable forms of excitement. by the ego. Just as the ego is the "seat of anxiety. but the body has no time for the ego's rage for order. "Protection against stimuli is an almost more important function for the living organism than reception of stimuli". for ways in which he can be seen to be a desiring subject without losing face. As he wrote in Beyond the Pleasure Principle.

What use does one want to make of the idea of mind?-an idea conspicuous by its absence in British writing on Freud. Winnicott sees the possibility for surprise. " Bad mind. foster-mothers one's self. or rather. neglecting Freud's metapsychol­ ogy. one could say. and holding implies reciprocal accommodations. Where Freud sees the possibility for mastery. Composure would. As he writes elsewhere. Where Freud is preoccupied with defensive forms of control. that is. Winnicott suggests. the imaginative elabora­ tion of somatic parts. seek its own nega­ tion. AND BEING BORED . largely unconscious. In a remarkable early paper Winnicott implicitly addresses the question. that the individual uses what he calls "mental functioning" in order to make up for failures of mothering. of physical aliveness. in other words. be part of a person's develop­ mental project to create or find an environment in which his composure was of no use. or what Winnicott . It might. a kind of self-holding that keeps open the possibility of finding an environment in which the composure itself could be relin­ quished. by definition. of vigilant self-control. is the endlessly orchestrated disappointment of this wish). " Holding describes the early maternal care that makes possible the infant's psychosomatic integration. in normal development "the infant's mind [is] able to account for and so to allow for failures of adaptation. composure can be seen as a deferral. "3 It is an expression of the body-self through fantasy. . One mothers oneself. In "The Mind and Its Relation to the Psyche-Soma" (1 949). feelings and functions. . which he calls "holding. and in which this fact was no longer a problem (sadomasochism. But with his flair for the ingenuous-a characteristic disregard for the special language of psychoanalysis-Winnicott gives us a different way of con­ sidering the idea of composure.ON KI S S ING. In Winnicott's terms. exactly what one observes in the subtle process of someone's carrying or picking up a child. Winnicott emphasizes something less virile.44 - In Freudian terms composure would be a form. Ordinarily the mind is "no more than a special case of the functioning of the psyche-soma . In this way the mind is allied to the mother and takes over part of her function. with one's mind. TICK LING.

Hell is not other people but one's need for other people. In fact Winnicott seems to imply that the figure he calls "the intellectual" is always retaliating. based on a kind of psycho­ somatic dissociation. the precocious mind of the child stops him from depending. There is. And there is always the mind as the theater of revenge. enables him to simulate indepen­ dence. a distance from everybody else. quickens in reaction to exces­ sive maternal unpredictability. The mind creates a distance in the self­ often in the form of an irony-from its own desire. always backing a grudge. there is always the anony­ mous company of thoughts. "As a more common result of the lesser degrees of tantalizing infant care in the earliest stages we find mental functioning becoming a thing in itself. then. at its most extreme. " 4 The tantalized child turns away from the mother in a bewilder­ ment that he will organize into a diffuse resentment. by communicating a relative absence of needi­ ness. In the child's early life the problem becomes that although the mother has the capacity to recognize the need of her infant. practi­ cally replacing the good mother and making her unnecessary. as though it were an obnoxious stranger. Engen­ dered by a grudge. go . by the same token. that most essentially perplexing form of power. the neediness is evoked in the other people around and then treated with sadistic dis­ may. and early states of excitement and quiescence. from the affective core of the self. For her own good reasons she too often puts her desire in place of the infant's desire. or rather. For the child. and manages. a conces­ sion to possible misrecognition-misrecognition as appropria­ tion-that most primitive. instead of being met as such by the mother. she exhibits a relative incapacity to do this in any reliable way. renders the other dispensable.On Composure - 45 - would call the precocious mind. A sometimes compelling but ambiguous aura. a familiar type of composure that creates an appearance of self-possession. in which desire for the other is interpreted as concession to the other. like the adult. The precocious mind in its struggle for composure is sus­ tained by a militant fantasy of self-sufficiency. And this is done partly through projection.

" Winnicott writes. " 6 . one function of the precocious mind is to main­ tain composure while protecting. So from Winnicott's point of view. . The quest for the perfect environment through the self­ holding and self-hiding of composure. at its most excessive. The composure is organized to preclude the repetition of this experience of traumatic. (Winnicott's notion of the True Self instates the possibility of accurate recognition by giving it a target. . some of which look like circles. The desiring self is isolated by the dread of being undermined by the misrecognition of the other. the desiring self that seeks such recognition. like a dare. this is the tautology that sustains the terms). in fantasy. is a word that psychoanalysis has ironized. of the ordinary self that is deeply unenchanted by the spurious forms of its own specialness. insulates the individual from ever allowing the recognition he seeks.ON KI S S ING. What Winnicott means here by "the perfect environment" is. TICKLIN G . the great master of psychosomatic caricature. for a perfect environment. because the other thing that the child is always trying to reestablish in his own eyes­ and that always already exists-is his own opaqueness. But Winnicott idealizes here the wish to be understood.46 - unreciprocated or unacknowledged. of course. I think. seduction of the affective core of the self. once wrote. "There are strange courses in life. " 5 "In the development of every individual. a state of virtual mutuality of recognition and desire that would make possible the child's and the parent's optimal development. in the need of the individual. As Georg Groddeck. AND B EING B O R ED . "the mind has a root . This is what Winnicott calls "the over-growth of the mental function re­ active to erratic mothering. " Perfect. exploitative. An accumulation of such misleading experiences prompts a precocious mental develop­ ment designed to make the child self-satisfying. Compo­ sure. sustains and challenges the idea of accurate recognition. at the core of the self. though the pun on root here leads us in different directions.

. he thought for a moment. " He grinned and said. then replied triumphantly. With remarkable economy he was using worries both to look after his mother-giving her something. ." and blushed." and it was clear from his associations that he had conceived a scenario in which one day he would give his mother his complete collection of trophies. "What are wor­ ries?" Quite naturally puzzled by the question.5 Worrying and Its Discontents If I can think of it. She was genuinely be­ mused. "preoccupied and sad. " For this boy worrying was a way of holding on to some­ thing. all his best worries. sometimes he determinedly kept them to himself. It transpired from our conversations that worries were like gifts he kept for his mother. and he was fearful of running out of them. Randall Jarrell. "Yes. some farts are worth keeping. in the last few months. and once alone with him I found something in this boy's distracted manner that distracted me. His teachers described him as having become. I said. a form of storage. " During an inter­ view his mother said that he seemed to have a lot of worries but wouldn't always tell her what they were. Intending to say "What are the worries?" I in fact said to him. "The Sick Child" A boy of ten was referred to me because of his general despon­ dency at school. "Farts that don't work. "Treasure. What better gift to give to one's mother-especially if she was unsure of herself-than a worry she could resolve and so feel fully empowered as a good mother? He told me that he frequently dreamed of "rooms full of the heads of big game on the walls. it isn't what I want.

t For this boy. an unproductive mental process that got him nowhere. it is useful. as we both soon realized. It is a thwarted internal experience rather than an exchange between inner and outer. worrying could be a form of emotional con­ stipation. very worried about losing his worries. After all. " Not everyone. in short. the question of what kind of work it is imagined that farts are supposed to be doing. then. ) If.48 - one day. it produces no change in the surrounding atmosphere. To approach the ordinary subject of worrying. from a psychoanalytic point of view. and this was part of its value to him. From a psychoanalytic perspective it is the patient's need for the symptom. . If he did. perhaps because they reek of change. by implication. to make her feel better-and to seduce the oedipal mother of desire with irresistible invitations that were proof of his potency. AND BEING BORED . it was among other things an attempt to arrest the passing of time. what is the equivalent in mental life of farts that do work? Farts are often intimations of things to come. And it isn't disruptive. it does not disclose a necessary process under way. that radically revises any conventional notions of cure. what would he be thinking about if he wasn't worrying? The description of worries as "farts that don't work" raises. despite his paradoxical invitation to the analyst to help rid him of it. He was. hints or bulletins from an internal somatic process that can be beyond omnipotent control. in this boy's view. loves the smell of his own thoughts. and in most contexts they are socially inappropriate reminders of this process. though. If we take the kind of biolog­ ical analogy familiar in Kleinian theory from Wilfred Bion's work. Like all symptoms. So a fart that doesn't work is a portent of nothing. TICK L ING.ON K ISSING. "Every man loves the smell of his own farts. he might have to use another part of his body-alluded to by the heads in the dream and how they got on the wall-to engage an object. we can say that thinking something through can be described as metabolizing or digesting emotional experience. Auden reported a well­ known Icelandic proverb. (It's worth noting that one of this boy's manifest symptoms was an inability to work. worries are farts that don't work.

in this light. (The question may not be "What are you worried about?" but "Whom is this worry for?") What one finds preying on one's mind. and when. of earlier relationships or transactions with objects. the way one was worried about-the quality of the worry we received-will to some extent be reflected in the way one worries about oneself In object-relations theory. 2 The parent's worry can signify a hidden preoccupation in the child. Potentially a threat. or whether one keeps one's worries to oneself-will be a repetition. How one uses other people in the process of worrying-to whom one tells what. with variations. what worries are used for-what kind of medium of exchange or currency they become in one's relation­ ship with other people and oneself-may be as revealing as what prompts them. for example. It may be part of our terror of dependency that we never hear anyone described as a good worrier. ''I'm worried about you" continues into adult life as an accusation and a claim. that worry­ ing tends almost always to be talked of pejoratively. It is curious. to have another person available to worry about him. Being worried about is both one of the oppressions and one of the reassurances of childhood. of the "nuisance-value" of the symptom. But it is a crucial constituent of the infant's and child's life to be able to evoke concern and interest. Parents keep the necessary link alive through worrying. We were once. And. or rather. In adolescence we see a different stage of this in the use of what can be called symptoms-but are often bemusing forms of privacy-to get out of the parents' orbit even while maintain­ ing sufficient contact with it. even if we are not now. clearly. Winnicott writes. In other words. What we think of in psychoanalysis as a symptom is often in children a way of making someone worry and therefore of making someone think.49 - from a developmental point of view. what worries are made . to remember that we are "worried about" before we begin to worry. worrying can cover the whole spec­ trum from ordinary self-care to a thwarted conversation with an unlocatable object. the object of some­ one else's worry.Worrying and Its Discontents . a loss of contact through a breakdown of understanding and an excess of pain.

But Freud.50 - of. whereas for dreams we claim authorship. I can say. according to ordinary usage. meaning to kill by strangula­ tion. " I can say "I dreamed about something"-although this.ON K I S S I NG. crowd to the front of the stage. one's own personal history of worrying-the subjects chosen. the people involved. made us unusually suspicious of the foreground. Traditional saying We can be both the subjects and the objects of our own worries. with the irony that characterizes the defenses. that is to say. of course. made up. Worries. but we can't be dreamed. . and feel­ ings. and worries. the relative pain and pleasure of the experience-all this would seem to be a poten­ tially lucid revelation of character. AN D B E I NG BOR E D . describing what dogs did to their prey as they caught it. It is. as we shall see. it was originally a hunting term. when they are there. are something to which we give agency. And like inverted masturbation fantasies. thinking. "It dreams me. "It worries me" and also "I am worried about something. allow them to be beyond omnipotent control. are perhaps overly familiar with ourselves. Don't worry. unlike dreams. The Oxford English Dictionary has. We can be worried. It is almost as though we recognize ourselves too well. . thoughts. or absorbed­ but unlike dreaming. The history of the word worrying is itself revealing. it may never happen. of course. may be related to what and for whom they are made. easy to forget that worries are imaginative creations. preoccupied. their mod­ ification over time. Worrying. We can. " So in relation to my worries I can be-in the language of a traditional mystifica­ tion-both active and passive. to . among several meanings from the fourteenth to the early nineteenth century: "To swallow greedily or to devour . Indeed. they are among our most intimate inventions. small epics of personal failure and anticipated catastrophe. Deriv­ ing from the Old English wyrgan. I can be their victim and I can try to master them. is different-but not as perhaps I should. They are. as worriers. T I CKL ING. like being concerned. or feeling-can be done to us.

D. . " Johnson's Dictionary of 1 755 has for worry: "To tear or mangle as a beast tears it prey. what the O. passion. From. " Worrying. often with a relentless weariness. e. " Domestic agitation replaces any sense of quest in Hazlitt's essay "On Great and Little Things. the way it signifies the vicious but successful outcome of pursuing an object of desire. What was once thought of as animal becomes human. perhaps. indeed all too human. is now done. that we get the psychological sense of worrying as something that goes on inside someone. or rather self-con­ suming. by the throat with the teeth and tear or lacerate. In other words. a peculiarly intense. " Where once wild or not-so-wild animals had worried their prey. is devouring. appropriately enough. This sense of brutal foreplay is picked up in Dryden's wonderful lines in All for Love: "And then he grew familiar with her hand / Squeezed it. worrying becomes a consuming. . at a certain point in history worrying became something that people could do to themselves. to kill or injure by biting or shaking. Said. we find Dickens' people worrying their lives away about love and money and social status. Using. by the minds of the troubled. To harass or persecute brutally. First there is the original violence of the term. more within our reach: we can fret and worry ourselves about them. The second striking thing is that wor­ rying.E. It is not until the early nineteenth century. a time of signifi­ cant social transformation. calls "denoting a state of mind. an analogy from hunting. " Two things are immediately striking in all of this. " giving as illustra­ tion a quotation from Hazlitt's Table Talk: "Small pains are . until the nineteenth century. the middle of the nineteenth century people began to prey on themselves in a new . the desirous. and worry'd it with raven­ ous kisses. is something one does to somebody or something else. . then. of dogs or wolves attacking sheep. g . "one who worries or torments them. " By the 1 850s we find many of Dickens' characters worrying or "worriting. What was once done by the mouths of the rapacious. ravenous form of eating. or of hounds when they seize their prey." A worrier for Johnson is someone who persecutes others.Worrying and Its Discontents - 51 - to seize choke a person or animal with a mouthful of food .

In little more than a century worrying has become what we call a fact of life. its obstinate persistence. AND B E ING BOR E D . The Facts. is retracted. So in Philip Roth's recent fictional autobiography. S.ON K ISSING. his life has been distinguished by the power of resurgence. It is now impossible to imagine a life without worry. " The pun on prey suggests the devotion of that generation of American Jew to a new God. But Byatt alerts us to a distinction between anxiety and worrying that she cannot make. The ." The strong sense here is that worrying is a form of insulation. "Frederica replied brightly that that would be very agreeable. and also that something about his life is reflected in the quality of his worry. as any of our most familiar feelings. is manifestly countererotic. Worry begins to catch on as a description of a new state of mind. TIC K L ING. it is surprising to find the word made interesting again in the narrator's descrip­ tion of his hard-working Jewish father: "Despite a raw emo­ tional nature that makes him prey to intractable worry. But the narrator also implies that his father's nature and history make him subject to his own persecution in the form of relentless worrying. In A.52 - kind of way. As in the seduction. something is implied and glossed over at the same time. This was despite a strong sense that the man was unduly anxious about the outcome of his overture: anxiety is a great destroyer of response. Grand Marnier. and Frederica had no taste for being closed in a sleep­ ing compartment with a worried man. But worrying. to the young heroine's relief. no one says "I had a really erotic worry last night. that in the excess of worry something in the proposition. as apparently ahistorical. A new kind of heroic resilience is required to deal with the worries of everyday life. two things that in psychoanalysis tend to be associated with desire. its intractability. " or indeed thinks of himself wor­ rying his loved one's hands with kisses. as integral to our lives. as the word is used now. Chartreuse" in his sleeping compartment. Byatt's novel Still Life one of the heroines is propositioned on a French train by a Frenchman. who offers her a "taste of Cointreau. Even in this most cursory bit of philology we find worry as pursuit and persecution.

but not sadness. It is worth wondering. that worrying is beyond displacement. e Alexander Portnoy In beginning to consider the worrying of everyday life as the product of an extreme form of secondary revision-a worry. The O. quite explicitly. for example.D. they are "worried about" something. as a stifled. given that psycho­ analysis is essentially a theory of censorship. in their own words. solicitous. indeed an overprotected dream-it may be useful to remember the possible implications of the . has been the subject of extensive psychoanalytic speculation. concerned. whereas one can feel anxious without knowing what the anxiety is about. which we may think of as a nine­ teenth-century medical term. I have a lif without latent content. " Anxiety. immediately found a place in the language of psychoanalysis. It has been subsumed by. why certain words that come to mind for patients are excluded by psychoanalytic theorist. or why there need be any disparity between the lan­ guage of analysts and patients. a broad range of psychoanalytic cate­ gories.Worrying and Its Discontents . is worried about them. It is a fact that no one worries in the Bible-the word does not occur-but it seems peculiar that the word cannot be found in the index of the Standard Edition of Freud's work. mania has been accounted for theoretically. that is to say. Depression. of course. while worrying still has not. is in its conventional psycho­ logical sense an older word than worrying. I think. The children I see clini­ cally are referred because someone.E. but not the intense pleasure of erotic excitement. And this despite the rather obvious point that most adults who speak English come for psychoanalytic treatment because.53 - distinction we tend to make is that worry always has an object. anxious. offers a seventeenth-century meaning of anxious as "troubled or uneasy in mind about some uncertain event. or implicitly included in. being in painful or dis­ turbing suspense. from obsessionality to phobic terrors. Interestingly.

have any worry in it. The unconscious. There are in this system no negation. for example. Flirting with possibilities. that there is a part of ourselves that has nothing to worry about. or rather. These instinctual impulses are co-ordinate with one another . " 4 Since worrying by definition implies conflict. can be punishments for 3 wishes. TICKLING. we must infer that the unconscious doesn't. be an aggression. AND BEING BORED . . Even if worrying is a covert critique of the fantasies of success in the culture. Freud writes. then. a critique turned against the self. Certainly people are more often starved of dreams than of worries. When we worry. We have to imagine. they fulfil the wish of the sense of guilt which is the reaction to the repudiated impulse. even spurious etymol­ ogies were once a respectable source of psychoanalytic specula­ tion. and are exempt from mutual contradiction . there may be a dream we are trying not to have. no doubt. prey on oneself-and what would it mean to devour what one caught? We are familiar with the notion of worrying away at a problem. There are. and those wrecked by antici­ pating failure. that is . it is clear that worrying has an equivocal relationship with the wishing that in Freud's view dominates mental life. we are both the hunter and the hunted. And the ordinary worry that projects a catastrophe into the future can easily be seen as the equivalent in consciousness of what Freud called punishment dreams.54 - etymology of the word itself. After all. or wishes cast in persecutory form. no degrees of certainty. more otnino�sly. those apparently wrecked by the wish to fail or the fear of success. according to Freud. . "consists of wishful im­ pulses. in the familiar act of worrying we may wish to avert the catastrophe and also to precipitate it.ON KISSING. so to speak. like a dog gnawing a bone. what are we trying to eat? What is there to pursue or get rid of ? Ho'Y does one hunt for some­ thing in oneself-or. those wrecked by success. one could say elaborating Freud's phrase. . which "merely replace the forbidden wish-fulfilment by the appropriate punishment for it: that is to say. " Worries. but is it absurd to suggest that we are doing a kind of violence to ourselves when we worry? Worrying can. . then. When we lie awake at night worrying.

And yet it may be one of the functions of worrying to cramp and contain-to overorganize-more imaginatively elaborate or even violent responses to such very real predicaments. or being late. is part of the routine. often has the appearance. or bother. the worry. or losing one's job. As remote as possible from the forbidden. How would one begin. is born of conflict. indeed. we have to worry about tomorrow. It involves the compromise of representation and derives from instinctual wishes. about money. and therefore of censorship. uncooked day-residue. unlike the dream. It can give a local habitation and a name to a diversity of grievance and desire. the predictability of everyday life. the ordinary worry seems drab. it is addicted to reality. an overprotection of the self. It may be worth considering. indeed radically misrecognized. But one could feel baffled. Worrying. There is no obvious reason.Worrying and Its Discontents - 55 - exempt from this most persistent form of self-doubt. if one's ordinary wor­ ries were interpreted as a Freudian analyst might interpret a dream. worrying is an attempt at simplification. one could say. Compared with the extraordinary invention of the dream. There is apparently little condensation or displacement. why our associa­ tions to any of the elements in a worry should not be revealing. is not in any obvious sense enigmatic or puzzling. . Compared with the dream. there seems to be no question of intelligibility. A worry. A moment's thought will tell us what. All of us may be surrealists in our dreams. or about one's children. that we associate with a certain version of reality. then. if anything. As a furtive protest. the screen. a glib Freudian paradox: that some of the most efficient forms of censorship are those that render themselves invisible. but in our worries we are incorrigibly bourgeois. Worrying. No amount of thinking will tell us what we will dream tonight. that is to say. like dreaming. is a muted dream. though. But the dream-work that Freud described is ingenious in its transformation of the forbidden into the sufficiently acceptable. although there is a noticeable intensity of feeling. to think that a shopping list or a telephone directory was a product of censorship? To worry about one's health. the worry is almost pure.

in the form of interpretation. "fades.ON KISSI N G . the demand. And when we answer the question "What are you worried about?" we. When we worry. "What did you dream about?" and "What are you worried about?" are quite different kinds of questions.56 - It may not be the dream that is the royal road to the uncon­ scious. we might pertinently say. dream is always a retro­ spective report. in the answers to these questions are different. ask someone what he is dreaming because a. we look forward but are not tempted to look very far back. We infer that work has been done on the stuff of emotional life. Clearly. both in Freud's sense of their being the disguised fulfillment of a repressed infantile wish and in the more verifiable sense that you cannot. of symbolization. But when I say that I dreamed about a green cat last night. The dream. by definition. TICKL I N G. we have conviction about what we are referring to. Worrying implies a future. But dreams are always set in the past. I am giving a true report. The answers to them confront us with our assumptions about interpretation-both what is subject to what we call interpretation and what. that there is an overnight history of transformation that opens into a vast unconscious personal history. We are dutiful in the way Or­ pheus should have been. " as Lacan puts it. which is of course ultimately true. but the style of interpretation it makes possible. never the so-called thing-in-itself. one in which something terrible might happen. AND BEI N G BORED . that existed prior to its appearance as a preoccupation. behind this particular piece of worrying. And always the question "What did you dream?" in its most straightfor­ ward sense is notoriously difficult to answer. yet we can assume that a process of substitution. from a psychoanalytic perspective. or perhaps the dreaming subject. a way of looking forward to things. Nevertheless. so to speak. By binding us to the present and the future it abolishes the past that is. It is a conscious conviction that a future exists. It seals time by encapsulating a sequence. or invitation. in a recognizable sense. mean what we say. whereas worrying seems like a reaction to and not a reworking of our experience. when . has been in play. So worrying is an iro�i�! (orm of hope.

A modernized Freudian. To remember a worry is as easy as to forget a dream. on the other hand. The dreaming subject is even more elu­ sive-almost impossible to construct-than his or her product. Here fantasies of growth or purpose conceal the impossibility. paying a debt. being cured of an illness-they do not seem to allude to an unlocatable lack or. and we are manifestly present in them. the iconography of the dreaming self is nowhere to be found. a nar­ rator-by assuming the existence of one. narra­ tive. In what could. a familiar face. The worst thing that could happen is more comforting than the unimagin­ able thing. A worrier has. They show a coherent subject in an intelligible. forget them-people have to try to do to their worries. a certain death. these specific worries can be very reassuring because they preempt what is in actuality an unknowable future. can easily see the self as merely a function of representation-where else is it except in its descriptions?­ in a world of comparably oblique objects.Worrying and Its Discontents - 57 - the dreamer awakens. not an incurably desiring subject in the disarray of not knowing what he wants. more absurdly. difficult to imagine a dream without a dreamer. we have potentially guaranteed subjects or selves in relation to potentially knowable and facilitating objects in search of per­ sonal development through intimacy. When people describe a known task-passing an exam. As an integral part of a familiar internal environment. the dream. they assume a pragmatic self bent on problem-solving. so to speak. Worries are present and tend to recur. We use worries to focus and are prone to use them to simulate purpose Uust as when we are intimidated by possibility). of course. broadly speaking. And it is exactly in this elusive area of inquiry that worrying focuses a contemporary dilemma in psychoanalysis. Worrying tacitly constitutes a self-or. be called object-relations theory. but also to know what the dreamer looks like. for how could there be a worry without a worrier? It is. at least. the unexorcizable . "Who is dreaming?" is clearly a less ludicrous ques­ tion than "Who is worrying?" What people do to their dreams effortlessly-that is. if unsettling.

looks silly. say. and they do not always succeed. And we could also say that potentially. I think. in this view. It domesticates self-doubt. at best in collaboration with responsive others. then. worrying regulates intimacy. worrying­ as a reflex response to demand-never puts the self or the objects of its interest into question. . at the heart of being. The tendentious comparison with dreaming reveals. Relationships. AND BEING BORED . through refusing the benefit of others. that they have in common. a defense against dreaming. how worrying sets limits to the kind of curiosity we can have about it. at the opposite end of some imaginary spectrum. but perhaps we don't worry enough about worrying. They both incorpo­ rate reality to defeat interpretation. con­ scious alternative to the dream. If we adapt Wittgenstein's famous question "Is belief an experience?" to the matter in hand and ask "Is worrying an experience?" we are left more empty-handed than we may want to be. and it is often an appropriate response to ordinary demands that begin to feel excessive. As a medium of exchange. then there may also be something. if the worry is the contrived. how would we go about getting a sense of what they meant? I seem to know when I'm worried-I recognize the signs-but this in itself can preclude my finding out what I'm doing when I worry. It seems to lack metaphysical ambition. because although they are essential to survival. TICKLING.58 - lack. But from an object-relations point of view we could say that worrying prepares the self. worrying impoverishes the self by attacking the possibility of its imaginative modification.ON KISSIN G. We can think about thinking. and that is precisely its function in psychic life. But from a modernized Freudian view. If worrying is. in this kind of arena. paradoxically. Desire implies a lack that no object can appease. Worrying. are neces­ sarily ironized. 5 If we were anthropologists who had discovered a tribe that engaged in a pervasive activity they called worrying. the persistence of desire prefigures defeat.

and not the unconscious per se. then. holding and the developmental process. that is the source of strangeness. in Winnicott's language. And yet object-relations theory provides us with something we could never find in Freud: a veritable catalogue of objects. it is assumed. no aim and is incapable of obtaining complete satisfaction. the object can do for the subject. that can promote obstacles to intimacy. beyond the repetition compulsion and beyond the object. "It demands exclusive possession. But it has a second characteristic: it has. There is. and for Winnicott. "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" Always.6 Returning the Dream: In Memoriam Masud Khan No bird soars too high. and principally for that reason it is doomed to end in disappoint­ ment. if he soars with his own wings. William Blake. It is the quality of mothering. is fluent in the work of wishing-are mostly unconscious. as in Khan's. But in Winnicott's work the . " 1 It is this notorious second characteristic that puts child­ hood love beyond the pleasure principle. Belief in the object-and here we must exclude Klein-tends to displace Freud's doubts about the subject. in point of fact. or what. But the fantasies-where the subject. it is not content with less than all. " he writes in his elegy for desire. For Freud. of course. in the patient as in the analyst. the object can eventually be used for. a series of texts that constitute a dramatis personae of facilitators and saboteurs.. there is a rep ertoire of fantasies of what. " Childhood love is boundless. excess and aimlessness. a promising sense of the object's poten­ tial. A latent teleology of the Self displaces an unavoidable divi­ sion in the subject. in Winnicott's work.

that the world is never good enough for us. It is only the impingement of the mother. that the constitution of the human subject entails a holding environment that is a failure. could be symptomatic only of what Khan calls. of course. But there is. " as Winnicott puts it-that defines nurture for Winnicott. but of silence: an always occulted aim. " 2 Interestingly." as offering us a powerful mes­ sage. a propos of Artaud.60 - early intimacy of the mother and her infant is always there in service of-cocooning. A feeling of being strange in a malign sense. The object. but of what and for whom. in Winnicott as in Khan. Winnicott makes this impossibility of knowing quite clear. it seems. of being radically other to oneself. has a benign potential for noninterference. "the sickness of the self-system . " 3 After all. The aim of intimacy is to sponsor the solitary unknowability of the True Self. The False Self manages the imposed illusion ofthe mother-or some­ times the analyst's theoretical preoccupations-those demands that are extrinsic to development. but not aimlessness . There is an excess here. AND BEI N G B O RED . as it were-an essentially strange and solitary True Self. that compels the infant and the child to use the various strategies of self-estrangement that he calls the False Self. in Winnicott's work.ON K I S S I N G . while the True Self lives in seclusion awaiting the good object. toward a reconstruction of a failure of the holding environment. a remark­ able phenomenological subtlety moving inevitably. as there is in Freud. strange by virtue of having no wish to be known. It is the acknowledgment of what cannot be known. but only pro­ tected-"preserved. for his most sacred idea. Winnicott uses an un-English word. "is an incom­ municado element and this is sacred and most worthy of preser­ vation. in Winnicott's view. as we know. "At the centre of each person. TICKLIN G . whatever the symptomatology. incommunicado. In the context of psychoanalysis as a hermeneutics it is difficult not to hear this "permanently noncommunicating" element. it is impossible to say. like the fabled "silence of God. a negative theology of the Self. So in Khan's case histories we find. " he writes. what is the transitional object if not the impossibility-or the refusal-of the Uncanny? . There is no sense. not of childhood love.

" Freud wrote. " he writes. (It can.Returning the Dream . and attempt at. The analyst's project becomes-and this is one of Winnicott's distinctive contributions. "I believe that today. Unobtrusively atten­ tive. in Khan's work. "For whom is the dream dreamed?" is a quite different question from "For whom is the dialogue spoken?" "The use of dreams in analysis. elaborated by Khan-the establishing of a reliable setting to facilitate and sponsor an innate developmental process. "we have to start. the guilty critique. . presumably. as we know. " 6 One could not. the analyst is careful. as the one who appropriates or colonizes the patient. of what was always a bad-enough imperialism . And it is this which the patient will either have to manage or be able to use. ) S o there is also. " His return to Freud involved a certain reserve about the analyst as interpreter. there is also one place in which he is always present. without paralysing the ambiguities of the therapeutic exchange by coercing them into the strait­ jacket of our metapsychological preconceptions. as Freud did in 1 895. an insistent preoccupation with. in his dreams . b y the same token. " 5 But if it is possible for a person to engage in a dialogue in which he can stay absent for ever.61 - In its twilight. be the very obscurity of the demand that is mutative for the patient. " 4 Much of Khan's work seeks to clarify the nature of the demand in the analyst's interpretation. say the same thing about the use of language. by giving a true phenomenological account of our clinical encounter with our patients. not to "initiate a reactive as-if dialogue between the analyst and the patient. demanding "exclu­ sive possession. redescribing the analytic situation based on Winnicott's model of the mother­ infant relationship. of course. "is something very remote from their original aim. from which the person of the patient can stay absent forever. in Khan's words. Throughout Khan's work there is a continual and passionate critique of the overinterpretative analyst as maternal saboteur. once again. the British Empire produced a theory of good-enough mothering as the antithesis. Each psychoanalytic theorist. makes a new kind of demand on the patient.

in Khan's version.ON K ISSING. or object-relation. part of Khan's intention to return the dream to the dreamer. The accomplice is. of strangeness­ strangeness as signifying difference-in the subtle simulation of intimacy. one of whose functions is to hold psychic pain. and not to collude in its denial-one collusion being the . L 'Envoi to Rose-Leaf and Apple-Leaf It is in relation to the dream that Khan begins to describe the kind of obj ect. the problem posed by the object is that it always demands. 8 But how does an intrapsychic model work for what is essentially an intersubjective experience. so to speak. as a complement to the anal­ ogy of the analytic setting with the mother-infant relationship. 1 976) 7_a description of the analytic setting as comparable. " in J. the terror. to ensure its fullness of meaning-its "eloquence.-B . to the preconditions for dreaming. the antitype of this new kind of object. " Khan writes. parodies-or rather. "a physical and psy­ chic ambience in the analytic setting which corresponds signifi­ cantly to that intrapsychic state in the dreamer which is condu­ cive to a 'good dream. For Freud. novelistic in its continual invention of new "characters") . Pontalis' term9-through minimal translation. there is also-articulated in three papers that constitute a series (1 962. by defini­ tion. unlike Winnicott. 1 972. AND BEING BORED . And it is the inverse of this particular object-relation that he finds in perversion. as we shall see. but simply by acknowledging it. attacks-solitary states of unknowing and imaginative elaboration through compulsive action with an accomplice.62 - For Khan. Oscar Wilde. The pervert. ' " One's real life is so often the life that one does not lead. for Khan. that increasingly preoccupies him (object-relations is. optimally. because in perversion there is the refusal. and where does this place the analyst? What kind of sense can we make of the so-called one-body relationship-of "the infant-in­ care alone with himself" -as a paradigm for the interpretative practice that is psychoanalysis? It is. and this is done to mask psychic pain. TICK LING. "Freud intuitively recreated. the problem posed by the object was that it could only frustrate.

a complicated relationship between what in psychoanalysis is called perversion and the notion. to put it another way. should it be required: a "witness. someone who uses at any given moment a perverse solution-denies that there is anything new to know. an environment. in his apparent know­ ingness. that it brings nothing-or just rage and disappointment-to the occasion. in the scenario Winnicott describes in his paper. was an implicit parody of a certain kind of analyst. Khan. not through . it should be noted. This can. that it can be made into into something else. that there is a constitutive difference between the notion of presence and the idea of the self-this new object. we could say that we are being perverse whenever we think we know beforehand exactly what we desire. have its heuristic advantages. "The Capacity to Be Alone" (1 958)-in which. however-or rather. allows himself to be used by the patient in a way that increasingly. " Indeed one could describe the work of Winnicott. is redundant. The mother. that it has nothing to offer us. does not correspond to an interpreter but is. in the guise of the analyst. a presence available for comment. of course. I think. holding the situa­ tion through her known potential for availability. For Khan. " to use Khan's ambiguous term. Derived from Winnicott's formative paper. " The pervert. as it were. begins to define the analytic encounter. a new model for theory. and Marion Milner as the attempt to find a viable alternative to perversion. there is no mention of the self and in which it is announced in silence. a medium. or. as Khan intimates. But there is.Returning the Dream - 63 - assumption that it is interpretable. as it were. the so-called pervert. so dear to the British School. To know beforehand is to assume that other­ ness. since every denial makes possible another kind of acknowledg­ ment Uust as each insight is the product of a specific blindness) . of "not-knowing. whether it be a person. So another function of this new object in the analytic situation is to set those limits to knowing that "provide coverage for the patient's self-experience in the clinical situa­ tion" IO-and by "coverage" here Khan means ego-sup port­ with the analyst functioning as what he calls an "auxiliary ego. for Khan. Because perversions are always pre­ figurings.

through "The Use and Abuse of Dream in Psychic Experience" (1 972) .64 - her vigilance or intent curiosity. the mother's presence makes possible the crystallization of the infant's desire without rup­ ture-of sleep in the case of the dreamer. but (unlike the Proustian epiph­ any) the setting for its possibility can be provided. there is a sense in which it does not matter what the dream happens to be. vis-a-vis the spatula game. it should be added. The mother cannot create desire. Dreams become bulletins of the developmen­ tal process signifying the silent metabolism of the Self. the form. " Desire. As with the transitional object. Only then can the infant be alone in the presence of someone. " . She can allow what Winnicott calls. she can only provide the conditions in which it is possible. as we read Khan's writing on dreams. what constitutes the object of knowledge-and this is the paradox that Khan will present us with-are the precon­ ditions. we see a curious process intimated in the repeated use of that extraordinary English word-with. and therefore of the analyst's role in relation to the dream as primarily interpretative. the setting. is replaced by the dream as experience. to "Beyond the Dreaming Experience" (1 976) . "We should no longer say. but not the product. like the dream. From "Dream Psychology and the Evolution of the Psychoanalytic Situation" (1962) . "the full course of an experience. who is not an object to be deciphered. cannot be arranged. not the reported dream. AND B EING B ORED . TICKLING. a history that is always occluded in its use in British psychoanalysis-experience.ON KI S S ING. and therefore as available for interpre­ tation. what is significant is that it has happened-that it could be dreamed­ and then how it is used. Like a more relaxed version of the censor in the dream-work. indeed. formative by virtue of being unknowable. The dream becomes a virtual synecdoche for the True Self of the patient. The dream as text. conjure it into being. It is only when the developmental process is felt to go wrong that the idea of a developmental process is useful. There is. a growing sense in Khan's work that to speak is always to be spoken for. a gradual attenuation of the idea of the dream as text. and of ego-function in the case of the child. What can be understood.

Freud. representations are always outside. from which the analyst is excluded. Freud said. where this dreaming experience resides if not in language. but was it possible to understand?" 11 What could be more pertinent to that tantalizing hermeneutic object. that was the royal road to the unconscious. " 13 then pathology is whatever in the person's history has sabotaged-and here we find the use of reconstruction and therefore the use of the analyst-the person's potential for dreaming experience. .65 - Vincent Descombes writes. vis-a-vis the problem of what he calls "the escape of meaning" in hermeneutics. there cannot be a private language. like the waking ego of the patient. he simply helps build the stage. The dreaming experience comes to signify that which is beyond description in the total vecu of the patient. "A person in his dreaming experi­ ence. from a different point of view. we can say. had intimated something of this in his cryptic remark. A per­ son has to be in the dream of himself before he can dream. the dream? If the dream. As interpreter of the dream-text itself. "I have under­ stood. is present in experience but absent in knowledge. We may wonder. " 14 It was the dream. The analyst's aim is to facilitate and establish. as Freud showed. of a person's irre­ ducible privacy. Clearly. " 12 The dreamer. not only the interpreted dream. the dream-space in the patient where experience can unfold. but there can be a sense. through holding. it also represents the impene­ trable privacy of the Self. as it were. "those dreams best fulfil their function about which one knows nothing after waking. as Khan claims with his extravagant virtuosity. After all. "The dreaming subject is the entire subject . Khan implies. If. " Khan writes. And it is the so-called dreaming experience of the patient. as Khan notes. for a good dream. is the way we tell ourselves secrets at night about our desire. he is a latecomer in the process that brings with it its own guarantee. "can actualise aspects of the self that perhaps never become overtly available to his introspection or his dreams. conveyed in language. but have I understood correctly or am I mistaken / deceived? But rather.Returning the Dream . As the interpreter. I have understood.

A clinical preoccupation with "how to let oneself be used. Like the mother who plays in the transitional space-a space. he writes. what he has used the dream-space for. " 16 The dream-space contains. . with the help of associations. TICKLING. Khan insists. always vulnerable to preemptive intrusion-the analyst is there to sustain the experience. " But Khan is careful to differentiate the experiences actualized in the dream­ space from the dream as "symbolic mental creation" (he will conclude the final paper in the series by stating unequivocally. The aim of any interpretation is to facilitate the personaliza­ tion ofthe dream. is conveying the patient to an unknowable destination. Khan makes it clear that the capacity for the "good dream.ON KISSING. 1 7 The analyst's interpretation does not so much trans­ late unconscious content as show the patient. evacuated-in what Khan calls "social space. Persian aphorism In his first paper on the subject of the dream. "makes it quite explicit that wish-fulfilment in dreams is only possible if the mnemic images of the previous satisfaction of needs are available for cathexis. like all transitional phenomena. become the servant of a process" 19 implies that interpretation might become a sophisticated form of interruption. between his desire and his accomplice" and that alienates the pervert from himself and the object of desirel8-are integral to the process of personaliza­ tion. for the purpose of personal elaboration. In "The Use and Abuse of Dream in Psychic Experience . " akin to the capacity to use the analytic transference. " 1 5 and he links this with Winnicott's account of infant care.66 I am there from where no news even of myself reaches me. and dream-space seen as the intrapsychic equivalent of transitional space where a person "actualises certain types of experiences. AND BEING BORED . Freud. what might otherwise be acted out-or rather. depends ultimately on the patient's experience in infancy of states of sufficient satisfaction. . the way the analyst insists on being important. " there is an emerging sense of the dream capacity as facilitated by environmental pro­ vision. . "There is a dreaming experience to which the dream text holds no clue"). And the dream. Transitional phenomena-unlike the "impersonal object" that Khan suggests the pervert "puts .

. by impli­ cation. . "we look for too simple a likeness to what we dreamed. with that which was beyond the object's knowledge. that we have only described ourselves. "Maybe. For what is the developmental process if not a limit set to-or a defiance of-the Other's claim to knowledge about the Self. bears no necessary rela­ tion to the dream-text. how does he know? Or perhaps a more psychoanalytic question. as a consequence. a disillusionment with the very object that Freud placed at the beginning of the psychoanalytic enter­ prise-the remembered dream or dream-text. but always incom­ municado? And whose version of self-knowledge. we do not always need a likeness. despite psychoanalysis. but not beyond the object's acknowledg­ ment. . with the analyst as controller of the hermeneutic-sig­ nifies Khan's distrust of psychoanalysis as epistemology. invites intuitive assent. " 20 The statement. as a theater of the epistemophilic instinct that Klein was so im­ pressed by. is an acknowledgment-necessarily iron­ ized in a secular culture-that we did not invent ourselves.Returning the Dream . what is the wish that is satisfied by believing this to be true? This disillusionment with the dream-text-and. in absolute terms. " . " 22 Maybe. would be. in other words. strictly speaking. "The dreaming experience. that elusiveness staged as an essence. It is not now "the component parts of the dream-text. does not sound glib? Khan's work. Khan suggests. " there is. but we may also want to ask. "is an entirety that actualises the self in an unknowable way . but "the whole dream as an experien­ tial entity "that has become the focus of interest. with its generous skepticism. He was preoccupied. Toward the end of his life Khan was increasingly preoc­ cupied by "a person's relation with himself" 21-that is. " John Wisdom wrote. those parts Freud encouraged us to dissect. which should perhaps be titled "Beyond the Interpreting Experience.67 - In "Beyond the Dreaming Experience" (1976) . dreaming itself is beyond interpretation. the process of personalization-and with the possible meaning of Freud's most recondite concept of primary repression. because the "dreaming experience. " he writes. " in Khan's view.

it has tended to equate significance with intensity and so has rarely found a place. the great ennui of childhood. of course. In any discussion of waiting. in Melanie Klein's gothic melo­ drama of emotional development. Although there are several references in the psychoanalytic literature to the project of the boring patient. often more subtle feelings and moods that much of our lives consist of. is boring. for all those less vehement. John Berryman. it's just having nothing to do. children unable to be anything else. the wish for a desire. very little has been written about the child's ordinary experience of being bored. As any child will tell us. of states of relative quiescence. and every child's life is punctuated by spells of bore­ dom: that state of suspended anticipation in which things are started and nothing begins. and fewer to the seemingly common adult fear of being boring. We must not say so. and more often. it makes . in childhood. "Dream Song 14" Children are not oracles. among many other things. "What shall we do now?" Every adult remembers. of moods that could never figure. are points of view. at least in relation to the child. It is part ofWinnicott's contribution to have alerted us to the importance. the mood of diffuse restlessness which contains that most absurd and paradoxical wish. a mood that by definition seems to preclude elaborate description. As psychoanalysis has brought to our attention the passion­ ate intensity of the child's internal world. But moods. vaguer. e. in theory. but they ask with persistent regularity the great existential question.7 On Being Bored Lif friends. for example. Clinically one comes across children unable to be bored.

he is. overlapping proj ects: the project of self-sufficiency in which use of. the adult's wish to distract him-as though the adults have decided that the child's life must be. the experience-that is. to recognize it as such. the other is interpreted. as it were. It is one of the most oppressive demands of adults that the child should be interested. both waiting for something and looking for something.On Being Bored . the conflict between the two projects is once again renewed. waiting for himself. in which hope is being secretly negotiated. Not exactly waiting for someone else. Experiencing a frustrating pause in his usually mobile attention and absorption. the capacity to be bored can be a developmental achievement for the child. by the child.69 - sense to speak of boredom because the bored child is waiting. The child's boredom starts as a regular crisis in the child's developing capacity to be alone in the presence of the mother. and in this sense boredom is akin to free-floating attention. of course. simply acknowledged. it is rarely agreed to. . or be seen to be. neither intent nor resigned. the child's boredom is met by that most perplexing form of disapproval. indeed revealing. In simple terms the child always has two concurrent. rather than to sabotage it by distraction. as a concession. How often. for an experience of anticipation. Neither hopeless nor expectant. as it were. sometimes irritable confusion of boredom the child is reaching to a recurrent sense of emptiness out of which his real desire can crystallize. That boredom is actually a precarious process in which the child is. the child is in a dull helplessness of possibility and dismay. and a proj ect of mutuality that owns up to a dependence. and hold to. In other words. In the muffied. In ordinary states of boredom the child returns to the possibility of his own desire. the child needs the adult to hold. Is it not. the bored child quickly becomes preoccupied by his lack of preoccupation. endlessly interesting. sometimes as an accusation of failure or disappointment. in fact. what the child's boredom evokes in the adults? Heard as a demand. Boredom is integral to the process of taking one's time. But to begin with. rather than take time to find what interests him. In the banal crisis of boredom. and need for. unconsciously.

In the course of the treatment he gradually developed in himself a new capacity. he chatted fluently in a quite happy. Being good. I once suggested to him that being good was a way of stopping people knowing him. a trying things out. as the simulation of his desire. which in the child often takes the . At its worst there is what the adult will come to know. and they were always tactful. that he might sometimes be too busy to come and see me. "When I'm bored I don't know myself! " If the bored child cannot sufficiently hold the mood. over the next year. nothing that could make him feel awkward and strong. " For several weeks. I asked him very few questions. AND BEING BORED . " and was. ''I'm not allowed to be bored. unembarrassing sort. As he was terrified of his own self-doubt. or use the adult as an unimpinging auxiliary ego. more direct than I intended to be. the capacity to be bored. he was "more miserable than he realized. " and had no friends because of his " misleading self-presentation. from his repertoire of displacements. "I wouldn't know what I was looking forward to. T I CKLING. there is a premature flight from uncertainty. to which he agreed but added. in passing. of a respectable. the familiar orgy of promiscuous and disappointing engagements that is also. A precociously articulate eleven-year-old boy was referred to me because. and he paused for the first time. while we got to know each other. quite panic-stricken by this thought. that is. into a discussion of what in one language would be called this boy's false self. in his mother's words. I asked him if he was ever bored. interests. in terms of the maternal demand. it is usually denied as an opportunity. slightly dissociated way about his vast array of interests and occupations. as it were. in the treatment. He was mostly in a state of what I can only describe as blank exuberance about how full his life was.70 - While the child's boredom is often recognized as an incapacity. The only significant negative transference occurred when he mentioned. " I asked him what would happen if he allowed himself to be bored. I think. He was surprised by the question and replied with a gloominess I hadn't seen before in this relentlessly cheerful child.ON KISSING. and said. But at one point. momentarily. This led us. was having lots of interests. a trial action in action.

he said that he was "too bored to be lonely. " But the child's boredom is a mood that seems to negate the possibility of explanation. " This could have meant several things. It is itself unexplaining. . Cogitations The child is dependent not only on the mother. among other things. and it is all the more reasonable to suppose that the patient cannot consciously perceive what he has lost either. " said to me in the first session. an emptiness in which his own idiosyncratic. " Freud wrote of mourning. that he couldn't bear. "that this attitude does not seem to us pathological. . But for this desolate child greed was a form of self-cure for a malign bore­ dom that continually placed him on the threshold of an empti­ ness. . an attack on the desiring part of the self. So perhaps boredom is merely the mourning of everyday life? "It is really only because we know so well how to explain it. For this boy greed was. Part of the total fantasy of greed is always the attempt to eat up one's own appetite.71 - form of a regressive fabrication of need. has occurred. "If I eat everything I won't have to eat any­ more. but one cannot see clearly what it is that has been lost. to the problem of having been tantalized is to have no desire. . a lack. Both can be lost and refound. but also on his desire.On Being Bored . unconscious desire lurked as a possibility. w. " Inability to tolerate empty space limits the amount of space available. certainly not pathological but nevertheless somehow unacceptable. " One feels . a loss . inarticulate. One magical solution. When I asked him if he was ever lonely. Some of the things Freud says in Mourning and Melancholia about the melancholic can easily be said of the bored child. . R. " What the bored child experiences himself as losing is "something to do" at the moment in which nothing is inviting. but for him it meant then that if he could eat everything he would no longer need to be hungry. a wish to get to the end of his appetite and finish with it once and for all. Bion. A boy of eight referred for being "excessively greedy and always bored. of course.

TICK L ING. " In a sense. In the set situation of Winnicott's consultation he asks "the mother to sit opposite me with the angle of the table coming between me and her. " provides a way oflooking at boredom in his paper "The Observation of Infants in a Set Situation" (1941 ). " This sets the scene for the three stages of the infant's behavior that are to become for Winnicott a paradigm of the analytic process. AND BEING BORED . Once again he does not know what he is looking forward to. is the work which boredom per­ forms for the child? Winnicott. like the "good" interpretation. and yet he is also preparing for something of which he is unaware.72 - "The inhibition of the melancholic seems puzzling to us. that makes sense to him to use. she sits down with the baby on her knee. " 2 The bored child is wait­ ing. and even the analyst himself. a state of precon­ scious surmise. it is possible. in Freud's words. particularly with his notion of the period of hesitation. in melancholia it is the ego itself. we might add. following Freud's approach in this extraordinary paper. "hide the weakness of one's own nature. " Freud writes. The brief but intense boredoms of childhood are reactive to no great loss. without the conscious representation of an object.ON • K I S S ING. The spatula. who often refers to instinctual life as a "compli­ cation. it is both. their destination is unclear. to find his desire again. "In mourning it is the world that has become poor and empty. if the child should wish to handle the spatula. we might ask. but are merely an interruption-after something and before something else. This is Winnicott's description of part of the process: . and the setting is one in which the child "only becomes able to find his desire again in so far as his testing of the envi­ ronment affords satisfactory results. Like all genuine transitional states. the bored child is absorbed by his lack of absorption. " And in boredom. Certainly when bored as an adult one cannot. something that will eventually occasion an easy transition or a mild surprise of interest. As a routine I place a right-angled shining tongue­ depressor at the edge of the table and I invite the mother to place the child in such a way that. is that which the patient is ready to use. "because we cannot see what it is that is absorbing him so entirely. " 1 But what.

Stage 2. the latter related to manipulation of the spatula.73 - Stage 1 . I find that it is impossible during this stage to get the spatula to the child's mouth apart from the exercise of brutal strength. The baby puts his hand to the spatula. or. Either with his hand resting on the spatula and his body quite still he looks at me and his mother with big eyes. In certain cases where the inhibition is acute any effort on my part that results in the spatula being moved towards the child produces screaming. certainly available for the purposes of self-expression. The baby now seems to feel that the spatula is in his possession. The change in the baby's behaviour is a striking feature. mental distress.On Being Bored . It is usually possible to manage the situation so that active reassurance is not given. 3 . or actual colic. and there is free bodily move­ ment. in "the period of hesitation" (as I call it). Before long he puts the spatula into his mouth and is chewing it with his gums. he withdraws interest completely and buries his face in the front of his mother's blouse. but at this moment discovers unexpectedly that the situation must be given thought. in certain cases. He is in a fix. Instead of expectancy and stillness there now develops self-confidence. which becomes flabby. and saliva flows copiously. Gradually he becomes brave enough to let his feelings develop. All the time. Whether the hesitation corresponds to my normal or differs from it in degree or quality. for the child's acceptance of the reality of desire for the spatula is heralded by a change in the inside of the mouth. while the tongue looks thick and soft. the baby holds his body still (but not rigid) . or seems to be copying father smoking a pipe. The moment at which this first phase changes into the second is evident. I have frequently made the experiment of trying to get the spatula to the infant's mouth during the stage of hesitation. and it is very interest­ ing to watch the gradual and spontaneous return of the child's interest in the spatula. perhaps in his power. and then the picture changes quite quickly. and watches and waits.

"For this child. by definition. in which the analyst's interpretations offer views rather than imposing convictions. not preempt the actuality of the child's desire by force-feeding. Winnicott is saying. " Winnicott writes. and hesitation implies mental confli ct. a set situation full of spatulas in which the child has to find one that really appeals to him. adapting Freud's phrase. we might add. "asthma was associated with the moment at which there is normally hesita­ tion. like Winnicott's initial squiggle. "becomes brave enough to let his feelings develop.ON KISSING. an offering. or perhaps. hinting. " The period. TICKLING. is at least tentatively promising. difficult time. Bore­ dom. Gradually gain­ ing interest in something that has attracted his attention. merely a distraction. The bored child. is the set situation before there is a spatula to be found. more absurdly. the transference has taken. " 4 One can ask then. . A child described later in the paper gets asthma during the period of hesitation. He is like a man who walks as quickly as possible through a gallery until a pic­ ture actually arrests his attention. an invitation to the child. one could say. for the bored child nothing is "available for the pur­ poses of self-expression. until he is stopped-and at that point. free bodily movement" there is a cramped restlessness. wonderfully observed and imagined by Winnicott. though not exactly asserting itself. in which the infant begins to experience his desire is an intrinsically problematic. a sprawl of absent possibilities. the infant. that is easily violated-although I would say that in growing up one needs a certain flair for distraction­ and analogous to the analytic situation. is looking for something to hold his attention. . For the child to be allowed to have what Winnicott calls "the full course of the experience" the child needs the use of an environment that will suggest things without imposing them. What are the individual's preconditions . of course. as it were.74 - Clearly. The shining spatula. instead of "self-confidence and . AND BEING BORED . It is a process. In psychoanalysis. is. in his period of hesitation. a militant or moralistic compe­ tence is inappropriate. " Instead of "expectancy and stillness" there is a dreary agitation. not distract the child by forcing the spatula into his mouth. What Winnicott calls the environment.

who can wait for nothing? Clov: Do you believe in the lif to come? e Hamm: Mine was always that. the whole notion of waiting is being rethought because. for letting his feelings develop? What are the situa­ tions he sets-the occasions he organizes-to make desire pos­ sible? Boredom. only in the space that comes between them. therefore. to the poverty of our curiosity. Optimally. in what Winnicott calls the antisocial tendency. following Freud. In Klein's develop­ mental theory. and the simple question. in a sense. and he will be relatively unembittered by his gradual pre-oedipal disillusionment and loss of omnipotence. the good breast turns into the bad persecuting breast. What Melanie Klein has described as the paranoid-schizoid position6 may be simply an account of the state of mind of an infant who has been made to wait beyond his capacity or tolerance. Representa­ tion-fantasy-is the medium in which he desires and waits. with the cumulative experience of waiting for a reliable mother the child will confidently find himself as the source of pos­ sibilities. as a desiring subject. but in each period of boredom the child returns to these questions. but is neverthe­ less present as such in the infant's mind.On Being Bored . of course.75 - for desire. Endgame In the process of waiting for the mother the child discovers a capacity for representation as a means of deferral. 5 But as adults boredom returns us to the scene of inquiry. is what could be called the individual's will to substitution. the need for every absence to be a presence. What Klein does reveal. The ordinary boredom of childhood is the benign version of what gets acted out. in her absence. After all. Without . The child can conceive of himself. in the agonies of waiting indefinitely. is prehesitation. For the infant. the infant is never alone. to the point at which desire is experienced intrapsychically as a threat to the always precarious integrity of the ego. What does one want to do with one's time? What is a brief malaise for the child becomes for the adult a kind of muted risk. or acted out of. Samuel Beckett.

that it "implies the notion of 'avowal' followed by a destruction of meaning"). for the adult. . and there is nothing I desire. . he "oscillates . at one remove. like the patient Freud mentions. " Freud writes. we can also say. are forms of recognition. instruments for the compromising of knowledge. for the curious paralysis of boredom (it is worth remembering Joyce McDougall's sense of disavowal. of its meaninglessness. But which of the two assumptions. and that a very energetic action has been undertaken to maintain the disavowal. which is. or beliefs. One can. " we see. 7 which will become. it is "an obj ect that is experientially identified by the infant with the process of the alteration of self experience. - AND BE I N G B O RED 76 - sufficient attentiveness by the mother there is to an excessive degree what Laplanche so starkly describes. TICK L I N G . of course. In this context what begins for the child as the object of desire becomes. in a different con­ text. We can think of boredom as a defense against waiting. as an attack of the drives on the ego. a refusal of the eventual presence of the object. as he understands it. " Initially the mother. I think. The defenses. which evokes such intensities of feeling. After the child has been confronted with the fact that. or imagines one has seen. " The child "has retained that belief but he has also given it up".ON KI S S IN G . as Freud described them. the woman lacks a penis. and this ambiguity accounts. " 8 In boredom. It is difficult to enjoy people for whom we have waited too long. And we can use as an analogy here Freud's explanation of the double-think in fetish­ ism from his paper of 1 927. 9 In boredom there is the lure of a possible object of desire. between two assumptions. what Christopher Bollas has described as the "transformational object. through projection. we wait and we try to do something other than waiting. distract oneself only from what one has seen. "that the perception has persisted. is disavowed is always ambiguous. an acknowl­ edgment of the possibility of desire. two impossible options: there is some­ thing I desire. " This earliest . and we often get bored-the boredom of protest that is always a screen for rage. there are two assumptions. And in this familiar situation. and the lure of the escape fro m desire.

it depends on chance whether we come upon it or not before we ourselves die. The past is hidden somewhere outside the realm. and so can appear to be hidden in that material object called the analyst. I think. we cannot know beforehand which of the day's events from what Freud calls the "dream-day" will be used as day-residues in the dream-work. protects the individual. and this feature remains in the trace of this object-seeking in adult life. in adult life. place. So the paradox of the wait­ ing that goes on in boredom is that the individual does not know what he was waiting for until he finds it. and that often he . Thus. " It is a labour in vain to attempt to recapture it: all the efforts of our intellect must prove futile. Proust writes in Swann's Way (1 913). We are drawn. or guarantee those processes of transformation-those articula­ tions-that return the future to us through the past. to ask a brash question: a madeleine or an analyst? An analysis can at least be arranged. makes tolerable for him the impossible experience of waiting for something without knowing what it could be. b e hidden in the transference. " 10 But just as. Of our own past. organize epiphanies. " 1 1 The past can also. beyond the reach of intellect. But can we believe that there is a royal road. it is sought in order to surrender to it as a process that alters the self. The fact that anything might serve to transform a person's life has extravagant consequences for the possible shapes of a life. "the person's search for an object (a person. so to speak. and. ideology) that promises to transform the self. in some material object (in the sensation which that material object will give us) which we do not suspect. the quest is not to possess the obj ect. alas. of course. for example. But it cannot. the paradigm for. to the transformational object? Boredom.On Being Bored - 77 - relationship becomes the precursor of. we cannot necessarily know what will serve as a transforma­ tional object. " At the first stage "the mother is not yet identified as an object but is experienced as a process of transformation. for the significance attributed to therapeutic interventions. where I believe the object is sought for its function as signifier of the process of transforma­ tion of being. as w e know. And as for that object. event. in fact.

ON

KISSING,

T ICKLING,

AND

BEING

BORED

- 78 -

does not know that he is waIting. One could, in this sense, speak of the "analytic attitude" as an attentive boredom. With his set of approximations the bored individual is clueless and mildly resentful, involved in a halfhearted, despondent search for something to do that will make a difference. Clearly, we should speak not of boredom, but of the bore­ doms, because the notion itself includes a multiplicity of moods and feelings that resist analysis; and this, we can say, is integral to the function of boredom as a kind of blank condensation of psychic life. In that more ordinary, more fleeting, boredom of the child the waiting is repressed. The more common risk for the adult-less attended to, more set in his ways, than the child-is that the boredom will turn into waiting. That the individual will become "brave enough to let his feelings develop" in the absence of an object-toward a possible obj ect, as it were-and by doing so commit himself, or rather, entrust himself, to the inevitable elusiveness of that object. For the adult, it seems, boredom needs to be the more permanent sus­ pended animation of desire. Adulthood, one could say, is when it begins to occur to you that you may not be leading a charmed life.

- 8 Looking at Obstacles
The way to solve the problem you see in life is to live in a way that makes the problem disappear. Ludwig Wittgenstein,

Culture and Value

A twelve-year-old girl was referred to me for what turned out to be an array of symptoms that she had managed to organize into a school phobia. At the age of ten, having nursed a sense of neglect in the family, which she perceived as two groups, the parents and "the girls, " her two elder sisters, both leaving her out, she asked her parents if she could go to boarding school. This had been an unconscious test of their devotion to her; she was dismayed to find herself, within three months of the request, in a public school three hundred miles from home. At first timid and pliable-the headmistress referred to her as "sweet and helpful" -she suddenly came to life after a year in a phobia with which she was terrorizing herself. She was unable to walk into the classroom; as she said, it made her feel "too excited, " and she thought she would faint or "screech like an owl. " When I said to her in our first awkward meeting that owls kill at night she thought for a moment and then said with some relish, " In the dark things don't get in the way. " I was reassured by this because it made me feel that, despite all the uncertainties and refusals in which she hoarded her rage, she knew about the fluency in herself. I thought that she no longer wanted to guard her grudges. Unusually for a phobic child, she entered into the spirit of psychotherapy with some vigor after a few months' stubborn impatience in which, quite sensibly, she treated me as part of the problem. The only thing that struck me as genuinely odd about her was her attitude to my holiday breaks. When I told

ON KI S S ING,

TICKLING,

AND

BEING

BO R ED

- 80 -

her of the dates of my holidays or made comments to prepare her, she treated all these remarks as a kind of hiatus in the conversation; I felt quite suddenly as though I was talking in her sleep. She was oblivious but in no way puzzled. Very politely she would let me have my say, as though I was someone with an intrusive obsession who every so often needed to blurt something out about the difficulties of separation. If I got irri­ tated and asked her if she had heard what I was saying, she was mildly bemused, but it made no difference. She would treat the sessions before the holiday as quite ordinary and would carry on the next session as though nothing had come between us. I found her absolute refusal to take me seriously as someone who went away rather endearing. I was aware that she had intrigued me with this, which, in another context, or in someone else, might have given me serious cause for concern. And then in the session before the third holiday break she arrived with an atlas. I had told her, and had been telling her for some time, that I was going away for two weeks to America. In what sense she had heard this I had no way of knowing. But in this session she went straight to the table and traced maps of America and Britain. She then reproduced them on a piece of paper and said to me, "While you're there [pointing to America] , I 'll be here [pointing to Britain] making the tea. " I said, "That's amazing! T is the difference between here and there" ; and she grinned and said, "So I'll be making the difference. " A lot can be made of this, but for my purposes here I would say that she could allow herself to recognize the holiday as an obstacle only when, in fantasy, she could bring it within the range of her own omnipotence: when she was making the tea. The initial "differ­ ence" has to be made, or rather imagined to have been made, by the subj ect, not by the object. So the first question is: What are the preconditions for the recognition of an obstacle? And the first assertion is: one can recognize an obstacle-which can mean construct something as an obstacle-only when it can be tolerated. Only through knowing what we think of as an obstacle can we understand our fantasies of continuity.

it is not. " 1 If I am simply on a walk. "For the sim­ ple traveller. She couldn't go to the toilet. or go shopping. one should not underesti­ mate a person's wish to be an obstacle) . I wouldn't know where I was ! " The second question then is: How are obstacles unconsciously constructed? And the second assertion is: The obstacle is used to conceal-to pack up. Her description evoked in me the image of somebody running who was gradually being metamorphosed into a tree. who was now a toddler. as it were-the unconscious desire. of course. needs the child to cling in order to paralyze any realization-or recog­ nition-of alternative unconscious projects. " he writes. " who passes over this road and whose free project is a pure aesthetic ordering of the landscape. he was always-this son who was insinuating himself up and down her body like roots-"in the way . a necessary blind spot. " And it was this familiar phrase-"He is always in the way"-that was insis­ tently repeated. It was not difficult to make some sense of all this in terms of the changed relationship between the couple. "Where would she be going if her son was not in the way?" So I asked her. a common family scenario with children at this developmental stage. wound round her legs. But the . and she replied quite cheerfully. The obstacle is a way of not letting something else happen. it is man­ ifested only as beautiful or ugly. the mother was describing how frantic her son made her by his clinging. the crag is not revealed either as scalable or not scalable. So one way of describ­ ing the family situation is that the mother. or the father. the rock face is an obstacle. She could "never. "have a moment to herself". " she said. In Being and Nothingness Sartre describes the situation of a walker confronted with an overhanging cliff face.Looking at Obstacles - 81 - In an interview with a couple and their first child. if I am a painter. If the child is always in the way-and par­ ents and children may cooperate to ensure that this is the case­ then the mother can never find out where she would be going if no one was in the way (of course. put as schematically as this. or do anything without his hanging on to her. But toward the end of the session the thought came into my mind. And it is. "Oh.

but without telling me for some time what it was. go and do it then!" A thirty-two-year-old man came to see me for a consultation. the analyst's-per­ sonal repertoire of obstacles?) And the third assertion would be: The desire does not reveal the obstacle. And if only it was as simple as this we could say to our patients. " as he referred to it ironically. He was both jaunty and shy about it all and eventually told me-having made himself rather unavailable-that the problem was that he always fell for "unavailable women. and I will tell you what you desire. what's the problem?" I apolo­ gized for being harsh. the only way to discover your projects is to notice-to make conscious-what you reckon are obstacles.ON KISSING. "Yes. and then Adler would say. of course. or even consideration as a problem. TICKLING. what is one's vocabulary of impediments? (And in clinical terms one could ask: What is the patient's-and. and he said that they always had part­ ners. "Tell me what your obstacles are. more psychoanalytic days. the obstacle reveals the desire. That is to say. " I asked him in what sense they were unavailable. and that we might be able to understand why he needed an obstacle to free his desire. "So you mean. He talked about how the problem might not be one. AND B EING B ORED . So the third question would be: What kind of obstacles does one find oneself making. would ask the patient at the end of the first consultation. " There is an apocryphal story about Adler who in his early. "What would you do if you were cured?" The patient would answer. warranted psychotherapy. He agreed that he found it slightly reassuring that these women he wanted had men who would . so in what sense are they unavailable?" He smiled and said.82 - absurd-the psychoanalytic-possibility that Sartre does not consider is that I may realize I am on a walk only when I perceive the cliff as an obstacle. but very unsure whether his "problem. I said. though in retrospect I think I was also speaking the voice of his disowned rivalry-in psychoanalysis one exaggerates the patient's muted voices-and I replied that he might feel safer with the conviction that they were unavail­ able. or to ourselves. "Well.

I wondered if perhaps he wanted to be protected by a stronger man. and so the death of desire. that we and the heroes and heroines of their fictions never know whether obstacles create desire. and obstacles without desire are literally unthinkable. then there must anyway be a wish for obstacles as unconscious mnemonics of desire. We are never quite sure which it is we are seeking. Symptoms. This apparently inevitable twinning of obstacle and desire suggests. full of the unusual and the forbidden. It is part of the fascination of the Oedipus story in particular. of course. and conscious of their partners as obstacles. The desire for the object can be used to mask the desire for the obstacle.Looking at Obstacles .83 - protect them from him. But for him the unconscious object of desire was the obstacle. so it is always worth wondering what the patient's imaginary unobstructed life would look like in the absence of . another assertion: The object of unconscious desire can be represented only by the obstacles to the conscious object of desire. like Pandora's box. in one part of my mind. A psychoanalytic answer-or rather. almost as though it was a proverb. the man. in the case of my male patient. response-might be: Desire without obsta­ cles is merging or incest. " It is impossible to imagine desire without obstacles. and it is difficult to imagine how to keep the story going without both. And he replied. So the next question is: Why do we need to think of them as inextri­ cable? And the answer to this question would tell us something interesting about our fictions about desire. and wherever we find something to be an obstacle we are at the same time desiring. or desire creates obstacles. try to get a woman. to forget. are always construed by the patient as obstacles. "If you want to get a man. and perhaps of narrative in general. When we unpack the obstacles in analysis-when we think of them as the way rather than as something in the way-we find them. This man was con­ scious of his desire for women. or a piece of folklore. or surreal like Mag­ ritte's doors suspended in the air. The obstacle reminds me of what I want. If I know what I want by coming up against what prevents me from having it.

consumed by longing and with money enough in my pocket to satisfy it. . but not having dared to buy anything. A ND BEI N G BORED . He has money in his pocket. I take every­ one who passes for someone I know. and the maid-he supposes to be excessively interested in his desire. Then I pass a fruiterer's and look at the ripe pears out of the corner of my eye. And this catalogue of obstacles-the women behind the counter. the man. the scent of them tempts me. at least to himself. I can see a girl coming in the distance. just finding ways of making what we don't do more exciting. As I come to the pastry cook's I catch sight of the women behind the counter and can already imagine them laughing among themselves and making fun of the greedy youngster. Is she not our maidservant? My short sight is constantly deceiving me. I am frightened by everything and discover obstacles everywhere. during my apprenticeship and since.ON KI S S IN G. but he needs these obstacles to make his ordinary desire seem. I have gone out with the idea of buying some sweet thing. the young people. But two or three young people over there are looking at me. T ICKLI N G . a man I know is standing in front of the shop. He creates an entirely reassur­ ing and familiar world-"I take everyone who passes for some­ one I know" -policed by exciting obstacles. Antici­ pation is the mother of invention. In this almost frenzied and certainly fraught scenario we find Rousseau's wish to make a spectacle of his desire apparently controlled by the projected disapproval of others. but to nurture them. " Rousseau writes in book 1 of the Confessions. 2 Satisfaction for Rousseau is the death of possibility. So Rousseau needs not to master the obstacles.84 - such constraints. And in his commitment to innocence there is always the covert suggestion that nothing is forbidden. What are the catastrophic-or catastrophically pleasurable-scenarios that his cherished obstacles both protect him from and sustain as an anticipated possibility in an always deferred future? " Countless times. But in the end I go home like an idiot. As my discomfort grows my desire increases. that we are not controlling ourselves.

It is.because he discovers obstacles every­ where. "and discover obsta­ cles everywhere. In order to fall in love with someone they must be perceived to be an obstacle. in fact. . in Freud's terms. in his own eyes at least. " Freud wrote. And the joke is so important for Freud because it is the most ingeniously efficient way of rescuing our pleasure from the obstacles. " I a m frightened b y everything. that the audience he has simulated forgets everything else. " But he is frightened by everything-that is. that we are momentarily released from the obstacles we have imposed on our pleasure. It is through the joke. . They circumvent this obstacle and in that way draw pleasure from a source which the obstacle had made inac­ cessible . or permit. a necessary obstacle. What Rousseau alerts us to here is the passion for obstacles. inJok es and Their Relation to the Unconscious that Freud uses the word obstacle-at least in the English translation-with the greatest frequency. If it is dangerous to buy a ripe pear. And this leads me to the next assertion: The first relationship is not with objects but with obstacles. Or to put it another way. so powerful in fact. Jokes make possible the satisfaction of an instinct (whether lust­ ful or hostile) in the face of an obstacle that stands in its way. only a dangerous man can do it. "We can only laugh. " h e writes. so to speak: People fall in love at the moments in their lives when they are most terrorized by pos­ sibilities. is a form of remembrance. from the other end. excited by everything.and how could they not be?-then the obstacles he creates have the effect of making his desire seem inordinately powerful. He is unable to think what would happen if no one was at all interested in his desire. so socially disruptive. And rescuing pleasure. the laugh that is already inside us. Freud suggests.Looking at Obstacles - 85 - criminal. The repressive activity of civilisation brings . a man. because every obstacle makes him potentially a criminal. " It is as though we need something to release. And if Rousseau is not unconsciously a criminal he is not. "when a joke has come to our help. If his aliveness or his potency is in doubt .

But to the human psyche all renun­ ciation is exceedingly difficult. " meaning "to offer opposition. So there is always an ironic sense in which the search for obstacles is also the search for pleasure.ON KISSING. obstruction . been repudiated by the censorship in us. 3 Jokes.86 - it about that primary possibilities of enjoyment. what prevents the patient from organizing a more exact repetition? Or to think of resis­ tance as the construction of an obstacle might lead us to rede­ scribe resistances as peculiarly inventive artifacts. the content of the resistance is also of importance for it almost always is a sign that the patient here too repro­ duces instead of remembers and in the material betrays also that . are the saboteurs o f repression. "The real resistance. Civilization makes an obstacle course of our pleasures. "far from disturbing the analytic work is actually a requisite and acts as a mainspring in regulating its course . objec­ tion" as the Oxf ord English Dictionary has it. " as Proust's narrator reminds us. TI C K L ING. but the joke endangers us with excitement. . what Freud calls our "primary possibilities of enjoy­ ment. In the repetition compulsion. Poor obstacles impoverish us. . adding a seven­ teenth-century usage of "to make obstacle. a "hindrance. however. and so we find that ten­ dentious jokes provide a means of undoing the renunci­ ation and retrieving what was lost. " ) 4 One of the aims of psychoanalytic treatment may be to enable the patient to find. like dreams. impediment. "has never yet made anyone find it less amusing. Outwitting is the other soul of wit. ("Failure to understand a joke. but jokes link us to our losses. " The obstacles keep us safe. or be able to tolerate. what is the obstacle. " Sandor Ferenczi and Otto Rank write in The Devel­ opment of Psycho-Analysis. which have now. more satisfying obsta­ cles to contend with. " These definitions are all obviously suggestive in relation to psychoanalytic theory. . are lost to us. What Freud makes less explicit is that the obstacle provides us with an additional source of pleasure-the pleasure to be got from successfully circumventing the obstacle. AND BEING BORED . . for example. An obstacle is literally something that stands in the way. resistance.

it is properly met in the way. is the paradigmatic obstacle. the fetish­ ist is "someone who is trying to secure a triple guarantee­ to make good his fundamental loss. after the father. if there is a wall between us I won't be able to taste you. it is as though the last impression before the uncanny and traumatic one is retained as a fetish.87 - which he would like by means of reproduction to withdraw from analytic elaboration. " 5 The resistance encodes the past that. produces a need to find obstacles to the per­ ception that there are two sexes. "When the fetish is instituted . " 6 The terror of castration. and intervenes between us and our object. and to recognize his own sexual status in relation . from a psychoanalytic point of view.Looking at Obstacles . " Given the emphasis on the visual here-the object in view-it is always worth considering which of the senses is being used for analogy in the construction of the obstacle. to maintain and assure continuity. one thing the patient and the analyst will never know anything about. by being repeated rather than remembered. What is repressed in advance is the novelty of experience. from her legs Up. "The thing that stands in the way between the person and the object he has in view" is Freud's description of the making of a fetish. as it were. And psychoanalytic theory can collude with this by implying that the future is merely the past in different terms. the subject's interest comes to a halt half-way. Thus the foot or shoe owes its preference as a fetish­ or part of it-to the circumstances that the inquisitive boy peered at the women's genital from below. and thus the loss of bodily integrity. Crabbe gives us as a further definition: "in latin obstaculum from obsta to stand in the way. " And just in case we might forget that. . The obstacle of repetition-resistance as repeti­ tion-creates the illusion of foresight. As George Crabbe writes in his once extremely popular English Synonymes Explained ( 1 8 1 8) . . I can smell and hear round corners. The fetish sponsors the idea that there is nothing to lose. the fetish. signifies the thing that stands in the way between the person and the object that he has in view. "the obstacle opposes itself. is an obstacle to the future. As Victor Smirnoff says. Like all defenses it apparently forecloses the future. Freud claims.

" "He has retained the belief [that a woman has a penis]. And this is a particularly interesting proj ect because what keeps them apart­ and this is the essence of the obstacle-also links them. But the object of desire is unbearable without the obstacle of the fetish. What was absent was an obstacle to castration. was that there was no obstacle-or was the penis an obstacle?­ to becoming a woman. is that it is needed to stop the fetishist from seeing what he has already seen. AND BEING BORED . "his fundamental loss. in fact. what Smirnoff calls. and indeed keeps recurring to throughout his work. opposing "currents" in men­ tal life? In the essay on fetishism he describes two boys for whom "it was only one current in their mental life that had not recognised their father's death. as it were. " 7 But the irony of this obstacle. the attack becomes the link.88 - to the fantasy of the phallic mother. " so it provides an obstacle to the thought " A person can lose a penis. it is the sign of a good fetish that it keeps incompatible ideas alive. " Freud writes. In the attack on linking. "but he has also given it up. "The fetish. " Like all defenses it is a form of acknowl­ edgment. as Freud suggests. Some­ times. there was another current that took full account of that fact. But how can one have. " 8 Just as it is the sign of a good theory that it can be used to support contradictory positions. " Freud writes. The obstacle secretly confronts the fetishist with what it protects him from. in fantasy. The obstacle that is found to seeing the female genitals-a shoe in Freud's example-is a way of sustaining belief that there are two sexes and denying it at the same time. "is a substitute for the mother's penis.ON KISSIN G . the fetish. T I CK L I N G . What the boy first saw. " 9 How can we describe the obstacles-which are fantasies-that stop these contradictory thoughts from contaminating each other? Perhaps we talk too much about dissociation without trying to describe what we put between states of mind to keep them apart. a tolerable way of thinking about something unac­ ceptable. " and an obstacle to the thought "I'm different from my mother. what keeps things apart may be the only connec­ tion between them. .

says to his accomplice: " 'Tis a blushing. in fact. something that comes between to make a more facilitating connection. " It is to the filling and emptying of obstacles . " 10 unlike the fetish. " It is an obstacle to merging and absolute loss-the two funda­ mental terrors construed by psychoanalysis-and so creates the space for experiencing. to object-rela­ tions. but the obstacles to murder are unsurprising. The inter­ mediate area of transitional phenomena. similarity the relin­ quishing or destroying of obstacles. however. There are no obstacles to one's own death. "The term transitional object. "exists as a resting place for the individual engaged in the perpetual human task of keeping inner and outer reality separate yet interrelated. he writes. one might add. It fills a man full of obstacles. gives room for the process of becoming able to accept difference and similarity. describe the differences between the oedipal and the pre-oedipal in terms of the difference of obstacles. The second murderer in Richard Ill. He writes only that "the object represents the infant's transition from the state of being in relation to the mother as something outside and separate. "according to my suggestion. And this dual threat we think of as pre-oedipal in origin. " difference entails the making or finding of obstacles. describing conscience. In this "process of becoming able to accept difference and similarity.89 - Once we are talking of this paradox of the link that sepa­ rates we are inevitably reminded of Winnicott's apparently familiar concept of the transitional obj ect. or perhaps an alternative. shamefac'd spirit that mutinies in a man's bosom. never makes clear the connec­ tion between the use of transitional obj ects and the shift from pre-oedipal to oedipal relationships. We could. Winnicott.Looking at Obstacles . which out of the terror of difference is used to simulate sameness. In the transitional space neither threat is preemptive or overwhelming. If the fetish is an acknowledgment through disavowal of the threat of castration. " he writes. " It is with the idea of transitional phenomena that Winnicott introduces something that I think should be called obstacle-rela­ tions as an addition. the transitional object is an acknowledg­ ment through mediation of the dual threat of merging and abso­ lute isolation.

we should remember. between life and death. TICKLING.90 - in a person's life-at its most extreme in manic-depressive states-that we should turn our attention if we wish to under­ stand something new about the conundrum of sameness and difference. the antagonism. was described as an obstacle between two quiescent states. " What I . The obstacle makes the difference. and a small child in a stroller in the line next to me kept throw­ ing her doll away. To throw away the doll was to impose an obstacle. about the necessities to which they are subject.ON KISSING. " This struck me then as rather an interesting remark. much to her mother's annoyance. and these certain obstacles seem. In a commentary on Simone Weil's statement that "All human progress consists in changing constraint into an obsta­ cle. "If you lose that you've had it. to be automatically removed by the mother. that makes possible the idea of someone else. and then it was immediately thrown away again. After about the fifth or sixth time the mother brought the doll back and said crossly to her daughter. This is the kind of object that only certain obstacles can come between. " the philosopher Peter Winch writes: "When I see things as obstacles I am already on the way to investigating and developing systematic ideas about their properties and interrela­ tions. Each time it happened the mother retrieved it. at least at first. I was standing one day in a line in a post office in Camberwell. Obviously I have no idea what the child made of it-although she did stop throwing out the doll-and I have some idea of what the mother intended. But then Freud believed in the opposition. much to the child's surprise. A person's life. and by doing so to find out something about the object. in the terms of Freud's later work. But it did occur to me that this little girl may have been trying to find out something about what came between herself and an object-what the distance or the difference was made of-and how it is removed. If she had finally lost it-found an absolute obstacle to its pres­ ence-she would indeed have had it in a specific sense. AND BEING BORED . so in develop­ mental terms it is the obstacle that makes possible the object.

Freud suggests. which is related to what it is that comes between people. (Another way of saying this would be to ask the slightly absurd question. In what Winnicott calls the " moment of illusion" -the moment of desire when it is imagined that the infant fantasizes the edible mother and she actually feeds him-it is as though the object of desire emerges out of the obstacles to her presence. But the existence of that extraordinary phenomena. Consciousness is of obstacles. there is not a mother in mind. always implies a prior perception of obstacles. as out of a fog. the absence imposed upon him by his mother. get a version of what it might be. the wish. a place without obstacles. so to speak. perhaps. but an obstacle that is present. Wherever you look. The little girl throwing her doll away is. he is on his way to mastering. The unconscious in Freud's description is. Is the first thought the absence of mother or the presence of time?) At the so-called beginning the child enters not a world of objects. At the beginning. reminis­ cent of Freud's description of his grandson's Fort-Da game. ofcourse. baffled inquiry into the nature of the object. The child is beginning to work out what it is that is between people. its properties and interrelations-only by finding or constructing obstacles to its access or availability. there's something in the way. but an obstacle to a mother. When the child discovers the cotton-reel. The search for obstacles-the need to impose them in their familiar guise of time and space-is part of the endless. not a mother that is absent. why would we need to wish if nothing were in the way? The way we get to know what we eventually call a mother is through the obstacles to her presence. rather. a world immune from the .91 - am suggesting is that the child can find out what the object is-or rather. but a world of obstacles. that he can pull back what he has thrown away. I know what something or someone is by finding out what comes between us. After all. as the Chi­ nese proverb says. by symbolic substitution. or rather. To feel hunger is to feel a growing obstacle to its gratification. he is hanging by the thread of his wishful desire.Looking at Obstacles . There is no thread of cotton connecting them.

There would be nothing to master. . no degrees of certainty". . and which may be pertinent to the subject at hand. " 13 Perhaps this is one way of picturing something as really bizarre. or modification of obstacles. And without obstacles the notion of development. he writes. But I have an uneasy feeling. And interpretation-the linking of these two worlds-becomes nothing more than the addition. is inconceivable. we are also composed of two worlds: a world without the usual obstacles-the uncon­ scious that Freud called "the other place" -and a world that is an obstacle-course. Suzuki on Zen Buddhism that he came to realize that "sound no longer comprises an obstacle to silence. " 12 So a good question to ask of a dream-indeed a question often crucial to its interpretation-is. the feeling that comes when one endlessly repeats a word only to be left with an enigmatic obstacle as to its sense. silence is no longer a screen with regard to sound. in the familiar formula. as the Freudian unconscious. John Cage said in an interview that it was through reading D. subtraction. that the word is full of meaning. a world. no negation. something as virtually unthinkable. half man half beast. "exempt from mutual contradiction . no doubt. he mentions on several occasions. AND BEING BORED . What are the obstacles that have been removed to make this extraordinary scene possible? In the Freudian topography we are not only. I wrote this essay to show that obstacles are the clue to desire.92 - obstacles created by what he calls secondary process thinking. The unconscious as a "seething cauldron" is easier to imagine than a place without obstacles. . is "timeless. a world presided over by the ego in its desperate search for obstacles. the unconscious.ON KISSING. There are in this system. T. at least in its progressivist sense. TICKLING. which we probably all remember from childhood.

. " A boy of seventeen who has been trying for weeks to work out what it is about his girlfriend that is "driving him mad"­ the frustration. " he replies. but to his own surprise he is blank.. their mouths get muddled up. with a kind of blithe indifference. " " Kisses?" I ask. " He mooches around in his mind for more to say. He has realized. the thumb. I ask what she likes doing there. And in their triumph die like fire and powder. kisses. things like that. and later in the period of weaning. what it is about her: "She doesn't kiss properly. what would they be saying to you?" "You can't really love someone that you don't love kissing. " wrote in his journal: "It is not impos­ sible that the question of how much oral eroticism (sucking the breasts. Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet An eight-year-old girl tells me in a session how much she loves being in the countryside on holiday. that is to say. is of paramount importance for the development of character. If her kisses were words. "You know. is the anomalous element. Which as they kiss consume. placed at the end of the list. . birds. . speculating along what were by then traditional psychoanalytic lines about what he called "oral eroticism in education. and she replies.9 Plotting for Kisses These violent delights have violent ends. lovers . so I offer him a suggestion: "When people kiss they've stopped talking. In 1 930 Sandor Ferenczi. I hate it when people kiss. as though oblivious to my question. he announces to me triumphantly. for cows. . " 1 In his repertoire of the infant's oral eroticism kissing. sometimes I just go out looking . . "Oh. the dummy-kissing) should be allowed or even offered to the suckling. It includes sucking. for which he uses her-arrives at his session in an unusually bumptious mood.

Freud suggests. With the mouth's extraordinary virtuosity. in a precocious. Withdrawal of love leads to undeniable feelings of being deserted. Prior to the splitting there is probably a tendency to self-destruction caused by the trauma. but there is one thing he will not do. he will defer until adoles­ cence. Freud writes in the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. AND BEING BORED . it involves some of the plea­ sures of eating in the absence of nourishment. The consequence is the split­ ting of the personality into two halves. but this is not its definitive characteristic. which tendency.ON K ISSING. But of all self­ comforting or autoerotic activities the most ludicrous. as we shall see-and it is hardly surpris­ ing in retrospect-is central in an oblique way to Freud's theory . can still be inhib­ ited-so to speak-on its way: out of the chaos a new kind of order is created which is then adapted to the precarious external circumstances. The child will develop more-sophisticated ways of dealing with his own insufficiency. He assumes that the infant must in a sense choose in this primal crisis between self-destruction or a new kind of relationship with himself by taking flight to his own body. however. self-comforting behavior as thumb sucking may arise. Bereft and relatively powerless. His body then becomes. Kissing. or kiss other people and things. TIC K L ING. The child may stroke or suck himself. the infant splits his personality and sucks his thumb. is kissing oneself. the most obviously unsatisfying and therefore infrequent.94 - of course. one thing it is as though. Eventually. desperate attempt to become for the time being his own mother. he will kiss other people on the mouth because he is unable to kiss himself there. the first mother-substitute. but he will not kiss himself. in a familiar cliche. In the same entry Ferenczi goes on to reconstruct the trauma that certain oral activities try to undo: Obviously the love life of the newly born begins as com­ plete passivity. one of which plays the role of the mother (thumb sucking: thumb is equalled with mother's breast). Ferenczi imagines the terror-the invisible history-out of which such banal.

It has generated no familiar slang. Adults tend to have strong. Styles of kissing can be seen but not easily described. what the wishes are in kissing. as only adults can know. mostly private and embarrassed feelings about kissing. "After such enlightenment. the putting away of the wrong childish things. And as Freud recognized. Children are right by implication about kissing. one of the com­ monest infantile sexual theories that babies are conceived by kissing.Plotting for Kisses . children know something that they did not know before. It is striking that. like most infantile sexual theories. there is little synonymy of kissing. " he writes.95 - of sexual development. but they make no use of the new knowledge that has been presented to them . It is of course considered adolescent-and by adolescent boys effeminate-to be a connoisseur of such things.2 It is worth wondering. One way out of the chaos Ferenczi describes. perhaps. romantic novels and films. Ostentatious kisses are usually represented in the most popular and once intellec­ tually disparaged genres. not only as foreplay but also as ends in them­ selves. And although there are clearly conventions in literature and life gov­ erning the giving and getting of kisses. But this squeamishness-it would be silly or arch to be interested in kisses-conceals an intense. is the belated desire to kiss another person on the mouth. part of the new order. these infantile sexual theories are not relinquished after children are told the so-called facts of life. acquired . although adolescence too easily involves. for example. It is. At certain periods of our lives we spend a lot of time plot­ ting for kisses. . . as though kissing resists verbal representation. unlike other forms of sexuality. this is anatomically inaccurate but suggestive and metonymically correct. it is really only from films that we can learn what the contemporary conventions might be for kissing itself. They behave like primitive races who have had Christianity thrust upon them and who continue to worship their old idols in secret. originally infantile curiosity about kissing and a repertoire of different kinds of kisses.

ON K I S S I N G. since it includes tasting someone else's mouth. "but not mouths. partly because kissing signifies an inhibited rehearsal for intercourse and other sexual practices.96 - virtually no language in which it can be redescribed. a compromise solution to what Freud saw as the individual's primary ambivalence. T I CK L I N G . and again. Mouths learn to kiss. with all the attendant anxieties. directly in relation to another person's body. among other things. as it were. and a way . of controlling the potential-at least in fantasy-to bite up and ingest the other person. one in which the difference between the sexes can supposedly be attenuated-the kiss is the image of reciprocity. So in psychoanalytic terms kissing may be. kissing. connected now with an emerging capacity for genital sexuality. in a way films do not. is the sign of taming. Apparently for the sake of interest stories often ignore. In what Freud saw as the individual's biphasic sexual development. From a psychoanalytic point of view. are the next thing to teeth. the individual resumes with newfound intensity of appetite and inhibition his oral education. though. links us to our earliest relationship with our­ selves and other people. Lips. as in childhood. with the reassurances of concern. as a relatively late version of oral eroticism. It is integral to the individual's ongoing project of working out what mouths are for. Through kissing the erotics of greed contend again. The way a person kisses and likes to be kissed shows in condensed form something about that person's character. "Animals can be tamed. the fact that the kiss itself is a story in miniature. In that craving for other mouths that is central to the experience of adolescence and seems to begin then. It is not merely that in the romance of appetite the details of salivation are not compelling. Although this is prefigured in the childhood game of touching tongues. There is the return of the primary sensuous experience of tasting another person. children are usually appalled at the idea of putting their tongues in each other's mouths. the kiss is a revealing sequence containing a personal history. " Winnicott wrote ominously. " 3 Kissing. not of domination-but one that is also unprecedented devel­ opmentally. and teeth are great educators. a subplot. AND BEING B O RE D .

one that probably lingered at the back of Ferenczi's mind. that " sucking at his mother's breast has become the prototype of every relation oflove.97 - of gratifying that other appetite he recognized: the appetite for pleasure independent of the desire for nourishment or reproduc­ tion. can claim to be described as a perverse act. in fantasy and physiology. kissing is indeed a "softened hint" at the sexual act. "her mouth was watery and wet. as Freud will imply. a substitute for genital intercourse (it is of interest that there are no common sexual perversions involving kissing as opposed to licking. aim-inhibited kissing. we should also consider the more nonsensical option that eating can also be. or eating) . or become. sucking.4 The kiss. is-perhaps for that same reason-the publicly acceptable representation of private sexual life. since it con­ sists in the bringing together of two oral erotogenic zones instead of two genitals. In the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality Freud emphasizes the significance of the fact that the individual's first and most formative relationship to the world is an oral one. Yet no one rejects it as perverse. between mouths and gen­ itals. " Freud writes. When Bob Dylan sings of a kiss. an ordinary sexual activity that is perverse only in the psycho­ analytic sense that it can be used as. In a well-known paragraph from the Three Essays. " 5 he is referring to the fact that not everything that is wet is watery. blurring the boundary between the normal and the perverse. on the contrary it is permitted in theatrical performances as a softened hint at the sexual act. If in a crude psychoanalytic interpreta­ tion kissing could be described as aim-inhibited eating. When we kiss we devour the obj ect by caressing it. Freud makes . "Even a kiss. a performed allu­ sion to it. Revealing like no other oral activity the powerful connection.Plotting for Kisses . Kissing on the mouth can have a mutuality that blurs the distinctions between giving and taking ("In kissing do you render or receive?" Cressida asks in Troilus and Cressida) . we eat it. in a sense. " He describes kissing in his master-plot of development as what might be called a normal perversion. but sustain its presence.

98 - more ambitious claims for the possible significance of kissing. Two parallel orders of desire develop that can overlap but do not need to: one more evidently purposive and bound up with the nee� for nourishment.ON K I S S ING." Freud surmises. "To begin with." He cannot eat himself. Through his mouth the infant experi­ ences a division of claims. is inferior to the mother's breast as a source of pleasure. The child does not make use of an extraneous body for his sucking but prefers a part of his own skin because it is more convenient. AND BEING BORED . ") Of neces­ sity the infant turns to the object for nourishment but away from the object for what Freud advertently calls "sexual satisfac­ tion. his own skin. with a second erotogenic zone. " A time comes for the infant when the sensual pleasure of sucking the breast is unaccompanied by the need for nourishment and can be split off from it. he seeks the corresponding part-the lips-of another person. "sexual activity attaches itself to functions serving the purpose of self-preserva­ tion and does not become independent of them till later. ("It's a pity I can't kiss myself. which he is not yet able to control. TIC K L IN G . that which one sexually loves. It is worth noting that Freud does not say here . the other less easy to describe but referred to by Freud as sexual. at a later date. although he can pleasure himself by sucking parts of his own body. (In 1 838 Darwin had noted in his journal "one's tendency to kiss. The inferiority of this second region is among the reasons why. when the possibility of real destructiveness enters the picture. & almost bite. as it were." he seems to be saying. though one of an inferior kind. having to do with the pleasure of pleasure: The need for repeating the sexual satisfaction now becomes detached from the need for taking nourish­ ment-a separation which becomes inevitable when the teeth appear and food is no longer taken in only by suck­ ing but is also chewed up. But this second erotogenic zone. " he writes of the infant. ) 6 The separation becomes "inevitable. a new quality of life. because it makes him independent of the external world. and because in that way he provides himself.

and suggests that it is a narcissistic blow that he is unable to do so. In adolescence the individual will substitute. in his account. which is independent of nourishment but still dependent on the object. its curious reunion through another person's lips. among other things. But why does Freud draw a conclusion so unexpected. Freud says. grotesque-almost unthinkable-image of a person kissing his own mouth. is acutely alive to its own pleasure. in Freud's view. At first pleasure and nourishment are inextricable. the primal inconvenience.99 - that it is inferior because it is inedible or because it is more available. then the infant experiences a new pleasure that Freud calls sexual satisfaction. that is to liay. the journey. so remote from the ordinary experiences of kissing and being kissed? . of being everything to oneself. It is perhaps useful to summarize the extraordinary sequence Freud proposes for the individual's primary obj ect of being at least sexually self-satisfied. Finally Freud offers by implication the intriguing. of kissing another person's mouth. is not of the object but of the fantasy of self-sufficiency. This eventual kiss highlights for Freud a double disappoint­ ment that is integral to his conception of human development: disappointment with the object because its independence makes it. Because the mouth. as it were. given that he cannot initially feed himself.Plotting f Kisses or . by that same narcissistic logic. The individual's first and forever-recurring loss. the breasts or the genitals of another person that are then immediately sought out at "a later date" but another mouth. And it is not. The infant then substitutes his own body as the object of this separate pleasure and later seeks. disappointment with the self because it cannot be the original or the sufficiently gratifying obj ect. the "inferiority" of his own skin for the further disillusionment that is at the same time an intensely evocative pleasure. from sucking to kissing. unlike the body parts it sucks. the "corresponding part" of another person's body: the mouth. he simply states by way of conclusion that it just is less satisfying. and then not only to suck. it therefore seeks. Freud seems to be suggesting. the only part of his body he can never kiss in the mirror.

AND BEING BORED . merely necessary alternatives. as Freud knew. as the poison of a spider. of getting muddled up. the mouth's elegy to itself. our most reticent sexual act. the grudge at the root of sexuality: a grudge. the kiss is a symbol of betrayal. The object of desire. Xenophon thinks. he wants us to know. development was a process of substitution in which there were no substitutes. contingent upon the cumula­ tive trauma that is human development. and often close our eyes. amongst other things. I think. kissing may be our most furtive.1 00 - For Freud. and of the revisions that betrayal always brings in its wake. unsurprised that traditionally prostitutes never kiss their clients on the mouth. that there are many kinds and that they have always punctuated our lives-are a threat and a promise. . " 7 Truly infectious. then. Harmless. We kiss our children goodnight. despite our misgivings. of course. although it is not immediately obvious why we do so. the signature as cliche of the erotic. and we are. to ask the simple psychoanalytic question. that is to say. . . saw kissing as confirming his sense of the narcissistic intent. " is resonant. TICKLING. and because it disappoints it can be returned to. is always in excess of the object's capacity to satisfy it. finally. are the fantasies in kissing? We usually smile beforehand. What. Kisses-of which it can be said. they involve us in the dangerous allure and confusion of mistaken identity. . like the kiss that is by definition a mistake in Chekhov's story "The Kiss. In The Anatomy of Melancholy Burton writes: "To kiss and be kissed. is as a burden in a song. Given the hopelessness of the individual's attempts to be sexually self-satisfied-represented here as the impossibility of kissing one's own mouth-Freud.ON K I S S ING. and a most forcible battery. as infectious. because it disappoints. And therefore. Desire.

The psychoanalytic setting is a frame for unanticipated invitations. which are always fantasies of possible drama. as instructions in how to behave as a psychoanalyst. Freud's minimalism here and everywhere else in his writing about technique. It is integral to the psychoanalytic process that the analyst cannot know beforehand which sex he is going to be. that is what the patient is supposed to do to him. the unconscious consequences are of such an invitation. The analyst is not only the one who is supposed to know. of wished-up assumptions of sexual entitle­ ment.. invites interpretation-What does one use a mirror for? Can one teach people to float. The transference is always something the analyst didn't know he was expecting until it arrives. By virtue of practicing as an analyst a person does not thereby turn himself into one sex or another. in their minds?­ but these analogies are strikingly neuter. Crow with No Mouth Free-floating attention. they are not prescriptive with regard to sex.10 Playing Mothers: Between Pedagogy and Transference If there's nowhere to rest at the end how can I get lost on the way? Ikkyu. The analyst is always waiting for the patient to tell him-and then to discover what the assumed. as . the notoriously anonymous mirror. the telephone of unconscious communication: as targets for identification. Each sex is categorized according to unconscious fantasies of function. Of course. And these attributions of apparent sexual identity bring with them a largely unconscious repertoire of permissions and pro­ hibitions to act. but also the one who is expected to act: as someone in particular.

But transference depends upon the possibility of psychic mobility. of course. "It has been . or rather observed.1 02 - someone special. devised to evoke a familiarization. as psychoanalysis is. What do analysts want?-mothers were looked at. One can be demanding of dreams. from whom. an irony from which it does not know how to recover-that despite the inevitable vagaries of the patient's transference the analyst always knows fundamentally whom he will be experienced as at the "deepest" levels of the patient's personality. The analyst is the perfect stranger usable in words. is both facilitated and preempted. Although he is not in actuality the patient's mother-with the notable exception of Klein's analysis of her own children-he is playing mother if and when he is analyzing the patient's most "primitive" pre-oedipal con­ fli cts. Mothers. to provide descriptions of what psychoanalysts were supposed to be doing. by sitting still the analyst becomes a moving target. as Freud said. They became models for a new profession that had uniquely prob­ lematized the question of the model. by what process can a person learn-or rather. in other words. a good interpreta­ tion can be like a good feed. If. If the analysis is done properly it will arrive on time. as we shall see. It is one of the problematic consequences of what became British object-relations theory-indeed. is an unknowable set of "new editions and facsimiles. The transference. But there is. What is being prepared. Unlike the dream. TICK LING. it can be expected. were used by the British School theorists. for the answers. " reiss�es with a new introduction. So-called ana­ lytic neutrality is a paradoxical estrangement technique. as though they were a genus. become-an analyst? To avert the catastrophe of the potentially endless charade of identifications-and to pre­ clude addressing the question. AND BEING BORED . of the production of paradigms. but as someone on the move. as Winnicott said. After all. One can be given a good feed but not a good dream. an uneasy fit-a difference that makes all the difference­ between what mothers supposedly do and what analysts are supposed only to say. then mothering has replaced dream­ ing as the royal road to the unconscious. but one cannot demand a dream.ON K ISSING.

now the aspiring analyst could watch the mother and her child perform. Mothers were burdened. by seeing what really happens (empiricism is always in an optative mood) . reconstruction could be scientifically informed by observation. Whereas in Freud's writing there are a few cursory descrip­ tions of mothering as the ordinary business of nurture. From one point of view-and not only the point of view of an improbable progressivism-Freud's lack of interest in a phenomenology of mothering was a serious omission. Ronald Fairbairn. "Adioses" In the work of the British School psychoanalysis was not used as a new way to understand mothering. " 1 Clearly.Playing Mothers . The study of mothers and infants. "that I have so deeply needed to speak .1 03 - to mothers. the discovery of transference was still not incompatible with the idea that mother had the answers. but mothering was used to understand psychoanalysis. with all the disappointments of wisdom. Wilfred Bion-and implicitly in Melanie Klein in a way that neither she nor her followers were usually prepared to concede2-a precise sense. we find explicitly in the writing of Anna Freud. derived in part from empirical observation. W. Just as Freud had at first learned so much from seeing Charcot's hysterics perform. Here. which so quickly became the focus of psychoanalytic research in Britain after the war. Pablo Neruda. one particularly pertinent to the psychoanalyst as acolyte: What does my wanting to be like someone-any one-tell me about my desire? He who returns has never left. the notion of the normative life-story. " Winnicott wrote. and not to dispel. became the matrix for the study of psychoanalysis. " Psychoanalysis was being used to reinforce. D. it was believed. John Bowlby. once again. of the mother's function and the pathological consequences of its "failure. Winnicott. Psychoanalysts began to write as though they could be taught by mothers what to do. . But it was an omission that freed him to ask a new kind of question.

What emerged from this increasingly sophisticated form of observation were canonical fantasies about mothering that became paradigmatic for the otherwise puzzling-because un­ precedented-practice of psychoanalysis. as Adorno might have said-was instrumental reason in what should have been an uncongenial context. need-fulfilling) obj ect but also the first external legislator. these were the terms that could be used both to teach the always elusive work of the psychoanalyst and to make psychoanalysis compatible with more-traditional social practices. one can ask now. What is there in.1 04 - But then. AND BEI N G BORED . The language found for these observations enabled psychoanalysis to rej oin the mainstream of social engineering. " 3 Why. of course. The mother. Developmental theory­ psychoanalysis without the exaggerations. and rationing: to help a person on his way. Legislation. did she describe it in these terms? Why was this the vocabulary-the language­ game-that came to mind? Because. The first external laws with which she con­ fronts the infant are concerned with the timing and rationing of his satisfaction. timing. of course. the human subj ect that is both prior to and beyond identification? In British psychoanalysis-from the Controversial Discussions to the cur­ rent emphasis on infant-observation in analytic training-the more traditional. after all. irrepressible question returned: not.ON KI S S I N G. T ICKLI NG. Was it not. What was to differen­ tiate psychoanalysis fro m its precursors was that the dream was considered a better model than the spectacle. timing and rationing. It was the psychoanalyst making himself a promise. How is . Freud had found that he had learned some­ thing quite different just from listening. the visual object that cannot be seen. "becomes not only the child's first (anaclitic. that were the bones of contention that split psychoana­ lytic groups after Freud? Freud had made it possible to ask the question. Anna Freud wrote in her influential schema of developmental lines. a vocabulary that consti­ tuted the skill of the psychoanalyst simply by describing a mother. or about. not to mention legis­ lation. a question that would change the nature of pedagogy and therefore of ethical inquiry.

then. " Bion writes: "Normal development follows if the relationship between the infant and breast permits the infant to project a feeling. No man does. When the psychoanalyst speaks about development he stops being the one who is supposed to know. to ground the transference. in other words. through the observation of mothers and infants. a fear of heights that could masquerade as a fear of depths. psychoanalysis as the trans­ mission of scientific information about human nature. Oscar Wilde. that it is dying into the mother and to reintroject it after its sojourn in the breast has made it tolerable to the infant psyche. the more interesting because more paradoxical attempt was derived from Klein's work with what she saw as the most primitive anxieties that defined the human condition. As such. In j . after all. Winnicott's concept of holding and Bion's concept of reverie-the two formative paradigms of analytic technique in the British School-use a version of the pre-oedipal mother as psychoanalytic mentor.Playing Mothers . " This is not a hermeneutic of suspicion but-as the biblical word so ourn suggests-a process of albeit difficult hospitality.1 05 - one. . All women become like their mothers. whom must I be able to iden­ tify with. Transference. That is their tragedy. to analyze identifications-and so the nature of identification itself-but How is one to establish identifications on firmer ground? 4 Could transference. . verbal analysis of preverbal states was likely to create a certain vertigo in the analyst. To be a psychoanalyst. say. or recognize myself being identified as by the patient? If developmental theory was one attempt to fix. they were bids to determine the analyst's function through a gender­ specific identification. be resolved into pedagogy? Because whenever psychoanalysts speak about development it seems as though they are talking about psychoanalysis as pedagogy. The Importance of Being Earnest Describing the process of "maternal reverie. Of course. through the transference. has to stop somewhere . That is his.

to learn from experience in analysis is to be able to tolerate hearing the trans­ ference interpreted. between omniscience and its identical opposite. "unless I am very tired. But is this receptor-organ-referred to by Bion apparently without irony-an acquired characteristic. " Interpre­ tation becomes visceral. body-based. has to sow what she reaps. but one cannot be taught by it. " 6 To become the teacher is to be seduced by the transference. and this depends on the analyst's having made it tolerable through what is effectively redescription. a "method" of interpretation. in any obvious sense. And of course. " 5 The mother. and so to teach is to seduce. " to use his title. " Winnicott writes vis-a-vis interpretation. If I am near exhaustion point I begin teaching.1 06 - this alchemy of maternal digestion and recycling the mother and the analyst metabolize the primitive inchoate emotionality of the infant-and the most regressed patient-to produce meaning. "The mother's capacity for reverie. between having some­ thing to teach. but there must not be teaching. AND BEING BOR E D . But those-like Bion and Winnicott-who are most impressed by the pre-oedipal mother in psychoanalysis are always poised in their writing between an extreme authori­ tativeness and an absolute skepticism. if one understands everything there is no one to teach. " Winnicott wrote in a book he did not . and only being supposed to know. One can learn from experience. in a rather literal-but no less useful­ analogy. just as for Winnicott-in a paradox that easily becomes a mystification-there can be learning in psy­ choanalysis. like the analyst. T ICKLING. in Bion's sense. " he writes. or learn how to use it? Despite the prevalence of a certain kind of pedagogical analogy in Bion's work-an emphasis on "learning from experience. with its teleology of accumulation-this organ is not. what Bion refers to as usable "sense-data.ON KI S S ING. It is a state of mind as act of faith. so to speak? Does the analyst learn how to have it. "So much depends. "is the receptor organ for the infant's harvest of self-sensation gained by its conscious. "I never use long sentences. To be able. " But he interprets because "if I make none the patient gets the impression that I understand everything. in his catastrophic pastoral of normal development.

was a virtual definition for Winnicott of the psychoanalytic process. playing mothers. " 7 There is. an inevitable connection between the . whether it be through the analyst's maintaining the reliability and resilience of the setting. for the analyst. and let it be emphasised that this is not something that can be taught. the sphinx with­ out a riddle. Bion and Winnicott promote. When the psychoanalytic theorist becomes wary of his omniscience he tends to make a fetish of "not knowing. in practice there are two temptations. " 8 The skeptic always boasts. faced with the impasse of the pre­ oedipal mother. " he writes in Human Nature. a virtual True Self destiny (Win­ nicott) . what are we left with if the analyst is mother? Psychic progress along developmental lines (Anna Freud) . the method is inspiring but the for­ mulated aims are by definition spurious. the value of not-knowing in the analyst. as he observed it in mothers. or both. " And yet holding. It is not surprising that. " Bion writes. is the pre-oedipal mother. achievement. in psychoanalysis. two extremes: identification either as caricature. The return is a cul-de-sac. only the analysis of the fantasies of beginnings. of the Depressive Position (Klein and Bion). "there is an inexhaustible fund of igno­ rance to draw upon-it is about all we do have to draw upon. It is as though. in different ways. through interpretation. " "In short. There is no beginning. "in an analytic treatment gives a sense of being held physically that is more real (to the non-psychotic) than if a real holding or nursing had taken place. a contradiction that immediately confronts the analyst who begins to model himself-to take his lead from or use as formative precursor-the pre-oedipal mother.Playing Mothers - 1 07 - live to entitle Human Nature. the secure internalization of the good object (Klein). "A correct and well-timed interpretation. There is. either guru or blank page. If. I think. What one learns from this mother-from observing her-is something that cannot be taught. Because the one who apparently knows at the deepest level. in other words. however precarious. or as the willing victim of an open transference. "on the way the mother holds the baby. of their wishful improvisation. but perhaps without having been taught.

And this is the situation. when Dionysos arrives. has nothing to offer. the disavowal of contingency. traditionally. TICKLING. AND BEING BORED .9 Using a fantasy about mothers-about the beginning-to foreclose the transference turns psychoanalysis into perversion. the mother who. perversion in the only meaningful sense of the term: knowing too exactly what one wants. omniscience as the cheating of time. .1 08 - analyst already in position as the mother-and especially the pre-oedipal mother-and psychoanalysis as the coercion or simulation of normality.ON KISSING. because she knows what's best for us.

Hans Sachs. however. of course. Thus this complaint at the uniformity of the world is really a complaint at not hav­ ing been mixed profoundly enough with the diversity of the world. entering Freud's consulting room would have been an unusual experience. the stored past.11 Psychoanalysis and Idolatry Abraham falls victim to the following illusion: he cannot stand the uniformity of this world. on Freud's desk. usually in the Freud museum-but the museum. one of the early members of Freud's Wednes­ day Psychological Society in Vienna. Here were all kinds of statuettes and other unusual objects which even the layman recognised as archaeological finds from ancient Egypt. by the forest of figurines from various cultures. or read and discussed our own products. " 2 . "not of a doctor's office but rather of an archaeological study. would sit overseeing them as he listened to the patient from behind the couch. the Wolf-man was reminded. he wrote. In the first psychoanalytic set­ ting-the paradigm of every psychoanalytic consulting room­ the patient could not see the analyst but could see his idols. Clearly. or just talked about things that interested us.. Franz Kafka. recalls in his memoir how "under the silent stare of idols and animal-shaped gods we lis­ tened to some new article by Freud. and particularly. and the patient lying on the couch could see them by turning to the right but could not. Parables and Paradoxes Anyone who goes to the Freud museum is immediately struck by Freud's collection of antiquities. Freud. to be uncommonly various. see Freud. " 1 Psychoanalysis. always takes place in a museum-and for the more idolatrous. which can be verified at any time by taking a handful of world and looking at it closely. for many reasons. Now the world is known. perhaps. as the analyst. of course. comes to life in language and loses its fixity.

ON KISSING,

TICK L ING,

AND

BEING

BORED

- 1 10 -

Presumably, the irony of the situation was not lost on them. And since Jewish thought, by definition, sets itself against idolatry, we should take this as one of the important scenes in the history of psychoanalysis: a group ofJewish men, in a room '7 full of idols, having a new kind of conversation about sexuality. Even though they thought of themselves as secular Jews, it was the equivalent of putting a moustache on the Mona Usa . It was a critique of traditional forms of reverence; because to talk about sexuality, from a psychoanalytic point of view, was to t alk about the nature of belief. As the conventions of love poetry have always insisted, it is in our erotic life that we return, so to speak, to idolatry. And our erotic life-as psychoanalysis would reveal in quite unexpected ways-is intimately con­ nected to our acquisitive, materialistic life. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, in the major European capitals, it was possible to purchase gods. "The ancient gods still exist, " Freud wrote to his friend Fliess in 1 899, "for I have bought one or two lately, am�ng them a stone Janus, who looks down on me with his two faces in a very superior fashion. " 3 You know the goqs still exist, Freud jokes, because you can buy ,them. They. have 'become a new kind of commodity, just as the personal past was hecoming something one could buy in the form of psychoanalysis. Certainly, recent archaeological discoveries had given vivid form to the idea that the dead do not disappear. And Janus, we may remember, the Roman god of gods, was the opener and closer of all things, who looked inward and outward, before and after; a pertinent god to have acquired given Freud's newfound preoccupations at the turn of the century. It is, of course, tendentious to refer to what Freud called his "grubby old gods" as idols. In his collection of more than two thousand pieces there were many representations of deities, but Freud did not worship them. He simply collected them with some relish and obviously prized them very highly; although it would not be wildly speculative, from a psycho­ analytic point of view, to infer that there were powerful uncon­ scious identifications at work both with the people who had

Psychoanalysis and Idolatry
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worshipped them and the people who had found them. If, as has been suggested, they also represented his family romance­ his wishful allegiance to alternative cultures-then they were also a rather grandiose parody of the idea. It would not be a family romance that could' contain Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Near Eastern, and Asian members, so much as a world-histor­ ical romance. "I have made many sacrifices, " he writes to Stephan Zweig, and it is a telling phrase, "for my collection of Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities, and actually have read more archaeology than psychology. " 4 He couldn't, of course, have had comparable Jewish antiquities, because there could be no such thing. It is an irony, then, of some interest that psychoanalysis­ in which only words and money are exchanged, in which no graven images are used, and which is carried out in an atmos­ phere of relative abstinence-had its beginnings in a setting populated by old... gods. Freud's consulting room, in other words, was a rather vivid representation of an old dilemma: How many gods if any, and what are they for? None of Freud's antiquities were kept in his living quarters. So what was Freud telling his patients and himself by displaying his collection in the rooms where he practiced psychoanalysis, a theory and a therapy that was consistently an impassioned critique of reli­ gious belief? Certainly these antiquities in a Jewish doctor's consulting room articulated two things about culture, which had interesting implications for the new science of psycho­ analysis. First, that culture was history, and that this history, which was of extraordinary duration, could be preserved and thought about. The present could be a cover story for the past. And second-and more threatening to the monotheism of a putatively chosen people-that culture was plural. These figu­ rines from such diverse cultures, which represented what Freud called "the splendid diversity of human life, " "the varied types of perfection, " might suggest that the only viable notion of True Belief was of something local, provisional, and various. The figurines underlined the fact that there are all sorts of cultural conventions and worlds elsewhere, as many as can be found.

ON KIS S ING,

TICKLING,

AND

BEING

BORED

- 1 12 -

Much has been made of Freud, rightly, as a post-Enlighten­ ment man of his time, committed ,to progress under the aegis of science, and to a critique of religion as enslavement through superstition. Freud was convinced that cultures, like individuals, developed from infantile, primitive magic to mature rational science, insofar as they were able to. What is less often spelled out is that Freud was obsessed by the notion of belief. Both magic and science, hysteria and common human unhappiness, delusion and psychoanalytic theory, he began tq realize, could be described as questions of belief. As Freud famously wrote in his conclusion to the Schreber case: " It remains for the future to decide whether there is more delusion in my theory than I should like to admit, or whether there is more truth in Schreber's delusion that other people are yet able to believe. " 5 The psycho­ analytic question becomes not, Is that true? but What in your personal history disposes you_ to believe that? And that, of course, could be psychoanalytic theory. In other words, from a psychoanalytic point of view, belief changes from being a question about the qualities of the object of belief, to a question about the history of the subject, the believer. What is the uncon­ scious problem that your belief solves for you, or the wishes that it satisfies? In therapy it is always an interesting question to ask someone in a state of conviction, What kind of person would you be if you no longer believed that? A symptom, of course, is always a state of conviction. Despite Freud's endless disclaimers-his descriptions of himself, in one form or another, as a "godless Jew" -in his work the Jewish boundary, if I can put it like that, between idolatry and something else we might call True Belief, was recontested. The distinction that had organized Judaism became blurred as Freud used psychoanalysis to redescribe the roots of belief.
It makes sense to preserve faulty points of view f pos­ or sible future use. Paul Feyerabend,

Farewell to Reason

I stood daily in the church in front of the statue. How often have I mounted the steep steps Qf the uplovely Corso Cavour to the lonely place where· the deserted church stands. so to speak. through three lonely September weeks.1 13 - Freud's preoccupation with Moses is obviously relevant in this context (there are. incidentally. Sometimes I hav� crept cauti­ ously out of the half-gloom of the interior as though I myself belonged to the mob upon whom his eye is turned-the mob which can hold fast no conviction. of course. only two references to Aaron in Freud's work. a certain irony in Freud's devotion to this idol. " 7 It is not obvious whom the joke was on. and neither of which even alludes to the Golden Calf) . quite unconsciously. as many people have pointed out. " 6 There is. in Rome. until that understanding came to me that I only dared to express anony­ mously in the paper.me Jhan this.. to have made it into an id01: "No piece of statuary. and have essayed to support the angry scorn of the hero' � glance. measured it. When Ernest Jones went to Rome in 1 9 1 3 Freud wrote to him: "I envy you for seeing Rome so soon and so early in life. which has neither faith nor patience and which rejoices when it has regained its illusory idols. of a man whose project was the destruction of idolatry.Psychoanalysis and Idolatry . In his first study of the patriarch. that is to say. " he wrote in his essay. in Michelangelo's famous sculpture: " In 1 913. drew it. Bring my deepest devotion to Moses and write me about him. has ever made . one of which is a quotation from Eduard Meyer in a footnote. why. and L think he unbent a little from his haughtiness. wa�/ to' con�ey your greetings to Moses. was based in part on his identification with him both as an interpreter and as an abolisher of idols. studied it. Freud tries to describe his internal reactions to the Moses idolized. a stronger impression on . 8 /' . His interest in Moses. The Moses of Michelangelo (1 914). But Freud was drawn irresistibly to this statue partly to understand why he was so drawn to it. he seemed. " Jones replied obediently: "My first pilgrimage the day after my arrival.

AND B EING B ORED . he proposes. but it is his psychoanalytic method that he returns to and uses to understand what we might call his transference to Michelangelo's Moses. after the idolatry of his people has to be included in the story: m>t the moment of discovery. in a state of recovery. he also admires Moses because of his self­ control. if you are not a Jew you are an idolater. but the remains of a movement that has already taken place. And this. after his own analysis. finds himself identifying with the idolatrous mob. is particularly interesting in the light of these considerations. which his essay explains. TICKLING. And his interpretation of the statue. that is.1 14 - Freud. He is an object of emulation for Freud because he \ . Freud begins by accepting what was then the traditional interpretation of the statue-Michelangelo shows Moses at the moment when he first sees his people worshipping the Golden Calf. which has "neither faith nor patience. . Freud is preoccupied by two things about Michelangelo's Moses. Actually. what is Moses' mood. seated �nd still in his frozen wrath and in his ' pain miiIgled with contempt. but what are Freud's "illusory idols" that he creeps cautiously out of the church to return to? It would be glib simply to say that his idols are now Science and Psychoanalysis. " Freud may be guilty of abandoning the religion of his fathers. First. but' h. But then Freud. at what point in the story is Moses portrayed? Reviewing the evidence of previous scholars. but the immediate period of realization.has overcome the temptation. t'o spring up and . the state of mind that Michelangelo has tried to represent? And second.les. " 9 If Freud. \ take vengeance and forget the Tah. " In this context perhaps. the moment just before his rage. the "mob. hilving to withstand "the angry scorn df the hero's glance.ON KI S S ING. Freud says. in Aaron's party. half-identifies with the idolaters. the artist has shown Moses after his rage. in this curious scene. " as he calls them contemptuously. and he will now rqnaiQ. but that wouldn't necessariiy place him. a man of science.e . comes up with an alternative construction. is what is so compelling for him about Moses: "What we see before us is not the inception of a violent action. in this hi�ly charged scenario. In his first transport of fury Moses desired to a'Ct.

he suffers their difference. idolatry is infantile. in this parallel Jung becomes the idolater. A misleadingly neat set of equations suggests itself: Moses as the superego.115 - does not take quick revenge on the idolaters. Freud gives final form to the possible virtues-the developmental achievement-that in his view distinguish Moses and his religion from what he con­ temptuously calls the " mob. In Freud's redescription of Exodus. clearly also refers implicitly to C. But Freud's interpretation of Michelangelo's Moses suggests that Freud is trying to contain­ to keep alive in himself-the relationship between the Moses figure and the idolaters. from the hero's point of view. And this ambivalence reflects the child's ambivalence about both the father and the religion of the fathers. The mob is skeptical and res­ tive. This essay of Freud's. is immature. a relationship is described between an inner authority that organizes and defines. especially in its impatience.Psychoanalysis and Idolatry . That is to say. The hero. But the essay also has an intrapsychic significance that tells us something about Freud himself. from the mob's point of view. is excessively demanding. it signifies a failure of renunciation. written in 1 9 1 3. Aaron as the ego. so to speak. fleeing fro m Freud's devotion. to sexuality. G. " and this gets transfer­ red on to a deity. idolatrous mob that is impatient and unwilling to believe in the hero. and the hero has conviction. " he writes. It describes an internal configuration that is dramatized through­ out Freud's work. "are dominated by an enormous overvaluation of his father. 10 But in Moses and Monotheism we fin d-amid much fascinating and bizarre speculation-both an enthusiastic defense of monotheism and a profound ambivalence toward it. ironically. but also Freud's ambivalence about the version of adulthood generated by psy­ choanalysis. Returning to Moses twenty years later in his weird and wonderful book Moses and Monotheism. nonheroic. and a less developed. " In crude terms it is fair to say that Freud reduces all religious belief to the longing for the father: "A child's earliest years. the mob. Jung's defection. and the idolatrous mob as the id. .

with the belief in a single god. And this. is its great virtue. " he appar­ ently once remarked to Ernest Jones. There is bodily clamor.1 16 - Monotheism. monotheism seems to represent a triumph of the mind. it is as if the body produces and worships idols. Freud tries to say. "the Jews have under­ gone a one-sided development and admire brains more than bodies. they do not get their sexual excitement from feeling superior to other people. " On the one hand he criticizes monotheism for its intolerance of other peo­ ple. in Freud's terms. And for those like Moses and other chosen people who have man­ aged what Freud calls this ". what Freud calls the "heights of sublime abstraction. . neurotics. that he is made proud-so that he feels superior to other people who have remained under the spell of sensuality. but by the same token. " he writes. and "primitive races"­ who remain under the spell of sensuality. "All such advances in intellectuality. because for Freud.and remained SO long afterwards. "religious intolerance was inevitably born. " over the body. which had previ�:)Usly been alien to the ancient world .triumph of intellectuality over sen­ suality" -this abstinence-th�re is one rather dubious reward. "For various reasons. "have as their consequence that the individual's self-esteem is increased. of course-:.ON K I S S ING. or what Freud calls the "intellect . " 11 There is clearly an idealization of the ancient wodd here. but with considerable misgivings. and there is restraint. but it is nevertheless worth bearing in mind that in what Freud calls the "ancient world" there were a large number of deities of both sexes. and on the other hand he praises it for its intolerance of the body. for example-which he explicitly links with imperialism-in Freud's view produces intoleranct:. And this point is not incidental. AND BEING BORED . and the intellect produces the sublimated rigors of monotheism. TICKLING.whom Freud places in his alarming nineteenth-cen­ tury category with women. " he writes. in Moses and Monotheism. 13 It is they who are prone to idolatry. " Now it is children. "Along . " 1 2 In what may now seem to us to be a questionable distinc­ tion. and that the gods of the classical ancient world were hedonists .

children know something that they did not know before. For a long time after they have been given sexual enlightenment they behave like primitive races who have had Christianity thrust upon them and who continue to worship their idols in secret. children were seen to be extremely resistant when it came to relinquish­ ing pleasures. The Future of an Illusion From a psychoanalytic point of view. at least.Psychoanalysis and Idolatry - 1 17 - A believer is bound to the teachings of religion by certain ties of affection. 14 It is surely one of Freud's greatest contributions to have multi­ plied the possibilities for irony. Like adults in analysis. We come to see that they are not even in so great a hurry to sacrifice for this new knowledge the sexual theories which might be described as a natural growth and which they have constructed in harmony with. Christianity is being used here to repre­ sent the truth about sex. are the facts of life-the scientific facts of life-like Christianity? Freud made no secret of his views about Chris­ tianity-and particularly his contempt for Catholicism-and yet. and dependence on. And child­ hood begins. their imperfect libidinal organisation-theories about the part played by the stork. about the nature of sexual intercourse and about the way in which babies are made. " Through­ out his writings Freud is extremely interested in this spell-both in how resilient it was. and for the same reasons. Once again we find here com­ plicated and ironic identifications at work. to talk about religion and to talk about sexuality are to talk about childhood. but they make no use of the new knowledge that has been presented to them. Sigmund Freud. In what sense. and in what broke it. modified it. or rather. "under the spell of sensuality. It is not clear whether this is a parody . for example. albeit figuratively. In his late essay " Analysis Terminable and Inter­ minable" (1 937)-one that is markedly skeptical about the therapeutic efficacy of psychoanalysis-Freud offers as an example telling children the so-called facts of life: After such enlightenment.

as always in Freud's writing. side with the Christian mis­ sionaries. Freud defines religious ideas as "teachings and assertions about facts and conditions of external (or internal) reality which tells one something one has not discovered for oneself and which lay claim to one's belief. made it abundantly obvious that it wasn't only "primitive races" that Christians had wanted to convert. among many other things. something with which we have a sadomasochistic relationship. he writes here. and that his work was. confronted with the Truth. but his sympathies are manifestly with the refusal by the idolatrous children. Are they true? but Why do you believe them? Children. " And their idols are theories. of the significance of infantile sexual theories in adult life. " Religious ideas. the conflict between Christianity and infantile sexuality. they had wanted to convert the Jews. The truth becomes something we give in to. we find once again in Freud.118 - of Truth or of Christianity. there is an implicit parallel being drawn with psychoanalytic ideas.O N K I S S I N G . the question being not. " In other words. He has internalized the ancient Jewish struggle between idolatry and True Belief. And the history. " make no use of the new knowledge" but "continue to worship their idols in secret. theories about sexuality. In The Future ofan Illusion (1927). whose sexual theories he refers to as a "natural growth. then we need to remember that Freud thought of himself as the discoverer of infantile sex­ uality. Children. like psycho­ analysis. are imposed. notorious in anti-Semitic propaganda for their sexual preoccupations. the adults don't inform them that one makes . of course. And clearly. according to their develop­ mental capacity. as we did in his accounts of Moses. If Freud is showing us. and in each of these instances True Belief involves submission to a more powerful authority. T I C KL I N G. his most sustained inves­ tigation into the personal origins of religious belief. as in the previous example. as a man of science must. not found. in this example. a fierce critique of Christianity. the generosity of a split identification. who were. discover their sexual theories for themselves. which Freud knew only too well. A N D B E I N G B O R E D . Freud. in other words. ironically. in this example.

The child believes in the father-although exactly what the child believes about the father is not spelled out-and the adult. unlike pain. and what are they used for? And he answers that they are paternal objects. we must infer from this. in the same way. . it is the element of wish-fulfillment that makes all religious belief a childish illusion. The believer. all belief is now idolatry. cannot be forced upon us. we wish. And this reality is ineluctable. believes in his god because he is too frightened to grow .1 19 - babies by kissing. and "the effect of religious consolations may be likened to that of a narcotic. religious belief. Freud says. protects us from something. And again. we should remember in this context. is a way of not leaving home. ' " 15 Reality. In fact. in Freud's terms. " but it is a "bitter-sweet poison. " a "sleeping draught. the distinction between an object that can be found. We may call this 'education to reality. perhaps. we don't believe. every belief. " Religion is simply an elaborate acknowledgment of what Freud calls "the perplexity and helplessness of the human race. Freud insists. we imagine that a catas­ trophe will ensue if we relinquish it. is like an addict.16 For Freud. Because of our formative helplessness. and idolatry is an anaesthetic. something we could. Something called "reality" now fills the space that was once inhabited by the monotheism of Moses. that is. " 17 It is all very simple. for Freud. Anyone who has been able to relinquish what he calls the "reli­ gious illusion" will "be in the same position as a child who has left the parental house where he is so warm and comfortable . we think. And in this sense a belief. Men cannot remain children for ever. which we invest with power and authority to console us for our original and pervasive helplessness. And pleasure. call Nature. . and an object that is forced upon us. like death. Freud asks-in the sometimes reductive generalizations in The Future of an Illusion-what kind of objects are religious beliefs.Psychoanalysis and Idolatry . is like a symptom. and above all we wish to believe. is that which cannot be wish­ fully improved. like a symp­ tom. A distinction is being made here by Freud that we are more familiar with from later object-relations theory. they must in the end go out into hostile life.

Freud states emphatically. Transference. why does he have to keep telling us? He disparages religious belief in a way that he has taught us to interpret. described an uncon­ scious that was the antithesis of an idol. "of which we hold a high opinion and by which we let our lives be ruled be of a similar nature? Must not the assumptions that determine our political regulations be called illusions as well? And is it not the case that in our civilisation the relations between the sexes are disturbed by an erotic illusion or a number of such illusions?" 18 And what of psychoanalysis itself. And he had certainly. what then is the alternative? And the answer. as many people have noticed. so unusually. of course. About two-thirds of the way through The Future of an Illusion Freud begins to realize that he may be using religion as a pretext to talk about belief. which Freud noticeably fails to men­ tion. I think. But why is Freud. Just as Freud was manifestly uncertain as to what there was beyond transference. in the abstract. and some of us. that could not be wor­ shipped and should not be idealized. so he begins to doubt. " he writes. If all belief is idolatory.ON K I SS I N G . when he tells his own story about religion. was that he was talking not only about religion. and whether any area of our lives can be anything other than what he calls illusion. but of which he. and even Moses was childish. whether there is any essential or discernible difference between idolatry and true belief. is a form of secular idolatry. our beliefs are subj ect to correction. so we can ask a simple question: What is the doubt he is trying to stifle by his overinsistent critique? One of the doubts. hostile to it? If it is so obvious what Religion. hold a high opinion even if we don't let our lives be ruled by it? Through psychoanalysis Freud suddenly seems to have col­ lapsed the traditional opposition between idolatry and true belief. indeed exces­ sively. And this had interesting implications for psychoanalysis. again. is science. because Freud had developed a treatment that made use of this infantile capacity for belief. really is. in the conclusion to The Future of an Illusion. T I C KL I N G . because in science. This . "May not other cultural assets. in The Future of an Illusion. unlike our wishful illusions. AND BEING BO R E D . after all.1 20 - up.

With the discovery of transfer­ ence Freud evolved what could be called a cure by idolatry. a wish that our wishes be correctable. a cure of idolatry. through idolatry. But the one thing psychoanalysis cannot cure. is belief in psychoanalysis. but it is a false belief So we are left with a paradox that is integral to our present subject. potentially. be the most ironic wish of all. Lacan says. is the one who is supposed to know. potential objects of belief were to be replaced by a method of inquiry into the personal history of belief The analyst. of course.Psychoanalysis and Idolatry . . in fact.121 - could. But from one of Freud's many points of view. And that is a problem. when it works.

p. . 1 899). 11. 275. 1 986). in collaboration with Anna Freud (London: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis. 3. Ibid. . 1 6 . William James. p. "Passions and Their Vicissitudes . ed. For an explanation of Winnicott's concept of holding. 1 953-1974. . James Strachey. 4. 24 vols. hereafter cited as Freud. 1 . 8 . 1 990). 7. Three Essays on the Theory o Sexuality. Towards Reading Freud (Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. " in Tremor: Selected Poems (New York: Farrar. trans. William James. Straus and Giroux. SE) . 1 963). p . p. with Josef Breuer. William James. Mass . 1 975). Freud. Quoted in Drawings by Bonnard (London: Arts Council of Great Britain Publications. 6. p. 1 83. 2. 305. 9. Pragmatism (Cambridge. On Tickling 1 . 2. f ed. 1 985) . The Standard Edition o the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. see page 44. Psychology: The Brie jer Course. . Ibid . 2. p. 279. Gordon Allport (Notre Dame. Talks on Psychology and Life's Ideals (London: Longman's. 28 1 . pp. 1 68 . p. See Andre Green. Studies on Hysteria. 1 90. : Harvard University Press. 5. Adam Zagajewski. 281 . 21 4-253.Notes Introduction l . For a brilliant discussion of psychoanalysis as an oppressively coercive reading of a putative human subject see Mark Edmundson. p . p. f 2. Auden. pp. Sigmund Freud. Inhibitions. The Dyer's Hand (London: Faber. p. f Joseph H. 7. " in On Private Madness (London: Hogarth Press. Ind. W . 1 985) . Symptoms and Anxiety. First Hates l . Freud. 1 986) . 6. 1 984). . 4. 3. SE XX. Smith and William Kerrigan (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. SE VII. Ibid. 98. H. 264. ed. : University of Notre Dame Press. "Ode to Plurality. See Pragmatism 's Freud: The Moral Disposition o Psychoanalysis.

p. 7. 1 3 . Ibid. The Bonds o Love (New York: Pan­ f theon Books. "Psychoanalysis and the Sense o f Guilt. pp. 1 1 . ed. Wollheim and J. 26. 23-24. 1 975) . . "Primitive Emotional Development. " in Powers of Horror (New York: Columbia University Press. For illuminating contemporary discussion of the making real-the discovery of the subjectivity-of the object. Winnicott. p. 1 53. 1 987) . 2. v . Ibid. p. Charles Cotton (London: Ward Lock. " The Naturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment (London: Hogarth Press. p. Jacques Lacan. 36-37. idem. 16. Mass . Submis­ sion. " Contemporary Psychoanalysis 26. The Collected Papers o Money-Kyrle (Perthshire: f Clunie Press. p. f 1 5 . p . Ox ord English Dictionary. " SE XIX. R. 32-55. p. pp. On Risk and S olitude 1 . 8 . 1 52 . "Paradoxes of Irrationality. " p . 254. 3. p . 1 7 . 1 2 . p. Winnicott. SE XV. " SE XIV. " in Through Paediatrics to Psychoanalysis (London: Hogarth Press.NOTES TO P AGES 22 . Donald Davidson. Winnicott. p. Letter to Charles Cotton from his patron Lord Halifax. 1 5 . 9. 10. 1 984). Winnicott. "Masochism. W . 1 Oanuary 1 990). Deprivation and Delinquency (London: Tavistock. p. 1 3. Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis. Ibid . W. . p. 24. 303. Stephen Mitchell. 5 . Ibid . p. " p p . 26. . 1 4. 1 2 . 1 97 1 ) . See Julia Kristeva. "Psychoanalysis and the Sense of Guilt. "The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of Its Power . 1 36. Roger Money-K yrle. Winnicott. p. " Something to Be Scared of. 1 06. D. 1 982) . D . 1 988) . no. s . " in Ecrits (London: Tavistock. Surrendbr. 32. p. 237. W . 6. " Winnicott Studies 6 ( 1 99 1 ) . and Jessica Benj amin. Relational Concepts i n Psychoanalysis (Cambridge. "Besides Good and Evil .1 9 . W . Freud. "The Use of an Object. Hopkins (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. "Negation. 1 978). 1 4 . in Montaigne's Essays. For discussion of the morality of obj ect-relations theory. 399. trans. Freud.38 . " in Philosophical Essays on Freud. 1 700) .1 24 10. D . "Instincts and Their Vicissitudes. Ibid . Ibid. 407. 4. p . 1 965) . 5 . Sartre (London: Chatto & Windus. Winnicott. 1 977). SE XVI. see Adam Phillips. 1 08-136. 1 1 . Iris Murdoch. see in particular Emmanuel Ghent. 1 982). " in Playing and Reality (London: Tavistock. : Harvard University Press. 3. 1 47 . 60. . "Psychoanalysis and the Sense of Guilt. . D . 1 988) .

N . Masud Khan. Aloneness. Lydia Davis (Barrytown. Winnicott. Seven Servants (New York: Jason Aronson. "Psychoanalysis and the Sense of Guilt. W . Winnicott. 23 1 . trans. pp. 2. p. 1 95 1 ) . Deprivation and Delinquency (London: Tavistock. The Privacy of the Self (London: Hogarth Press. Life and Death in Psychoanalysis (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. p. 1 8 1 . 3. 244. Daybreak. Lang'. D. Returning the Dream 1 . 304. Beyond the Pleasure Principle. See Jean Laplanche. Winnicott. p. Masud Khan. p. Female Sexuality. Freud. 1 974). Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. " in Hidden Selves (London: Hogarth Press. Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Ibid. 20. 1 86. f trans.60 . 1 983). 1 26. 1 98 1 ) . 1 975) . 2 1 . 5 . 201 . 1 972) . 5. Maurice Blanchot. " in Through Paediatrics to Psychoanalysis (London: Hogarth Press. 1 984). Freud. 4. 1 965) . . " in The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment (London: Hogarth Press. p. The Unknown Self (London: Vision Press. I take the child's delight at seeing itself cohere in a mirror image as a reaction-formation to deal with the terror of seeing itself unified into an image and ripe for naming. Lacan's mirror-stage i s pertinent here. 6. 4 . See Wilf red Bion. 3. 1 87. The Unconscious. SE XVIII. : Station Hill Press. "The Mind and Its Relation to the Psyche-Soma. p. " Infancy. 4. 2 . p p . 2. SE XIV. 63-77. 1 28.1 25 1 8 . O n Composure 1 . 27. p. Freud. of being collected into a parcel and made ready to be passed around. and Madnes s . J. Y .NOTES TO P AGES 39 . p. 5. The child has a fear. Worrying and Its Discontents 1 . See Rodney Needham. "Communicating and Not Communicating Leading to a Study of Certain Opposites. R . 1 977) . W. 46. Friedrich Nietzsche. p . SE XXI. p . W. 32. D . "The Essential Solitude. Georg Groddeck. 1 976) . " p. 26 1 9 . D. 1 982). p . 246. SE XVIII. Belie f.lage and Experience (Oxford: 6. Freud. Winnicott. as well as a wish. Blackwell. . " in The Gaze o Orpheus. Ibid . 3.

49. 40. 5. pp. Khan. Masud Khan. Philosophy and Psychoanalysis (Oxford: Blackwell. p. Khan. "Beyond the Dreaming Experience. Pontalis. 245-246. For an account of the relationship between acknowledg­ ment and nonappropriation. Vincent Descombes. 306-3 1 5 . 1 983). p. . 214. see Christopher Benfey's brilliant Emily Dickinson and the Problem of Others (Amherst: University of Mas­ sachusetts Press. 1 . The Hands of the Living God (London: Virago. Masud Khan. 1 67 . 7. W. 66. pp. 1 7 . f "The Use and Abuse of Dream in Psychic Experience . "Dream Psychology . "Beyond the Dreaming Experience. 1 8 1 . 20.1 3 1 . 6. . " in Hidden Selves (London: Hogarth Press. Objects of All Sorts (Oxf ord: Blackwell. John Wisdom. 42-50. 1 984) . Khan. pp. On Being Bored 1 . Khan. Khan. Frontiers. 50. idem. " Use and Abuse of Dream.7 5 . . Quoted in Khan. Marion Milner. " p. " in Through Paediatrics to Psychoanalysis (London: Hogarth Press. Alienation in Perversions (London: Hogarth Press. pp. Khan. xxxi. "Dream Psychology. " in Hidden Selves (London: Hogarth Press. p . " p. Aloneness. Ibid. Ibid . " Beyond the Dreaming Experience. D. p. 3. Khan. 1 6. 2 1 . Deprivation and Delinquency (London: Tavistock. 1 953) . 3 1 5 . Khan. 5 . 29.B . 1 984) . SE XIV. pp. 1 979) . 33. Frontiers in Psychoanalysis (London: Hogarth Press. 2. (. 33. 22. p. and Madness. Winnicott. 7. 1 20. . 1 988). idem. 27-4 1 . p . .1 26 4. p . W. " p. Freud. 15. "The Observation of Infants in a Set Situation. 8. 1 975) . In D. " p. 1 8 . . 1 985) . " p . 9. 305. 46. "Dream Psychology and the Evolution of the Psychoanalytic Situation. " in The Privacy o the Self. " p. 1 98 1 ) . 1 0 . " Beyond the Dreaming Experience. Alienation in Perversions. 4. " ibid. 58-59. 14. 1 2. " Beyond the Dreaming Experience. 45. 49. p. pp. Masud Khan. Freud. Mourning and Melancholia. p. " p .N O T E S T O P A G E S. . " p. 1 983). p. 53-54. . Ibid. Ibid. 1 83. pp. 9. 13. p . "Use and Abuse of Dream. 28. Winnicott. pp. 52-53. 1 1 . 1 9 . 213. "Infancy. Ibid. Pontalis. quoted in ] .

ed. bk. pp. 6 . pp. or instead of. Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious. "Fetishism. SE XIV. trans. "Fetishism. 1 . trans. Lebovici (New York: International Universities Press. 621 . Within a Budding Grove. " p. 7. 1 953) . 1 55 . 1 957). p. 5 . See Melanie Klein. It may be more usef ul. Peter Winch. p. W. Victor Smirnoff. pp. 13. p. 1 987). 1 56. John Cage. p. 9. 1 0 . Juliet Mitchell (Harmondsworth: Penguin. JeanJacques Rousseau. 1 986).92 . 1 980). trans. 1 76-200. Barnes (Lon­ don: Methuen. 8. Freud. p. 2. 1 986). Jean-Paul Sartre. See Joyce McDougall. 9. Terence Kilmartin (London: Hogarth Press. Con fessions. 12. to talk of link envy as well as. children of both sexes envying the parents' unique capacity for connection with and access to each other via the genitals . . Marcel Proust. 14. p. Ibid.1 27 6. 1 54. 1 5 . . For the Birds (London: Marion Boyers. 1 98 1 ) . Psychoanalysis in France. 1 980). Terence Kilmartin (Lon­ don: Hogarth Press. Simone Weil: "The Just Balance " (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. for an extended discussion of the uses of fetishism to disavow meaning and perception. Cohen (Har­ mondsworth: Penguin. 1 975) .NOTES TO P AG E S 75 . e d . Newton (New York: International Universities Press. 8 . Widlocher a n d S . 1 54. Plea f a Measure o Abnormality (New York: or f International Universities Press. " in The Selected Melanie Klein. p . p. p. trans. Freud. p. 1 1 . 488. 1 989). for example. 4 . Freud. Hazel E. Looking at Obstacles 1 . SE VIII. Christopher Bollas. D. Lif and Death in Psychoanalysis (Baltimore: Johns e Hopkins Press. 233-234. penis envy. Marcel Proust. 7. Being and Nothingness. p. p . Sandor Ferenczi and Otto Rank. Winnicott. 66. " in Through Paediatrics to Psychoanalysis (London: Hogarth Press. 10. f trans. 40. 1 9 8 1 ) . M. 1 1 . D . 324. J. The Unconscious. Freud. 1 976). 47-48. 45. 1 98 1 ) . 8. " in The Shadow of the Ob ject: Psychoanalysis o the Unthought Known (London: Free f Associations. " SE XXI. "Fetishism. "Transitional Objects and Transitional Phe­ nomena . "The Transformational Object. 3. See Jean Laplanche. p . The Development o Psycho-Analysis. " S E XXI. Swann 's Way. "Notes on Some Schizoid Mechanisms. Freud. 1 0 1 . 1 86.

SE VII. Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis. p. p. Through Paedia y-ics to Psychoanalysis (London: 4. p. 1 23. Hogarth Press. " in the mother and in the analyst as nonretaliatory object. for a persuasive recent discussion of the problem of identification vis-a-vis the putative aims of psycho­ analysis. Bob Dylan. 2 . W. 1 40. Freud and the Crisis o Our Culture f (Boston: Beacon Press. p. The Bacchae of Euripides is the paradigmatic text. Winnicott. Dent. Human Nature (London: Free Association Books. 5. pp. Clinical Seminars and Four Papers (Abingdon: Fleetwood Press. Winnicott. 1 965) . p.NOTE S . 7 . f 1 932). p. 9. TO P AG E S 93 .] . Lyrics 1 962. The Anatomy o Melan �holy (London: ]. Lacan: The Absolute Master (Stanf ord: Stanford University Press. 5. Winnicott. are felt to come from good forces" (Collected Papers. 1 958). 2 1 9 . 3. 1 987). 1 67 . 1 82 . 7 . Second Thoughts (Northvale. 1 972). : Jason Aronson. 4 1 . 1 955) . 1 975]. Playing Mothers 1 . These "good forces. Winnicott. W. Freud. Final Contributions to the Problems o Psychoanalysis f (London: Hogarth Press. p. 1 988) must now be the canonical text for the relationship between identifi­ cation and unconscious categories in psychoanalytic theory. See Mikkel BorchJacobsen.1 985 (London: Jonathan Cape. Sandor Ferenczi. Home Is Where We Start From (Harmondsworth: Penguin. are assumed to attenuate . f 1 0. Anna Freud. p. p. 1 987). 1 955). " for example. 239). 1 967). D. 8 . 234. 2. 1 1 1 . Freud. p . 1 1 9. 4. Plotting f Kisses or 1 . In "The Origins of Transf erence.1 0 8 . 1 988) . 1 1 6. 3. D . particularly the first feeding experi­ ences. 6. Ignacio Matte-Blanco's Thinking. 1 68. Klein writes: "The comf ort and care given after birth. The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environ­ ment (London: Hogarth Press. Freud. 6. W . Analysis Terminable and Interminable. 244. p. Feeling and Being (London: Routledge. but see also Marcel . for a remarkably lucid and foresightf ul discussion of Freud's sense of what was "beyond" culture. SE XXIII. Wilfred Bion.1 28 9. D. D . N . p. W . M . Wilfred Bion. 322. 62. See also Lionel Trilling. the "bad forces" of the Death Instinct. III [London: Hogarth Press. Robert Burton. 1 987). Three Essays on the Theory o Sexuality. 1 99 1 ) . Normality and Pathology in Childhood (New York: Interna­ tional Universities Press. SE XVI. p.

3 1 4-31 5 . Freud: Norton.1 20 . p. pp. 1 986). The Future of an Illusion. Freud. Freud. pp. Ibid. 49. Freud. trans. 1 1 . "Analysis Terminable and Interminable. 1 2. : Har­ ge vard University Press. f 1 8. p . p. 34. . 1 945) . Ibid . Mass . 1 3 . Psychoanalysis and Idolatry 1 . The Case o Schreber. Freud. 3. Moses and Monotheism. 599. pp. 2. : Harvard University Press. 1 70-1 7 1 . p. 1 988). 8 . Mass. 4. p . 1 7 . A Life for Our Time (New York: W .NOTES TO P A G ES 1 09 . The Complete Letters o Sigmund Freud and Wilhelm Fliess. Quoted in Peter Gay.1 29 Detienne's Dionysos cl ciel ouvert (Paris: Hachette. 1 1 5 . The Future o an Illusion. 1 5 . Freud. Freud. The Moses o Michelangelo. 1 985) . SE XII. p . . 36 1 . 1 989) . Freud. 50. and f ed. pp. 1 70. . See Freud. " SE XXIII. 1 4 . SE XXI. Moses and Monotheism. 1 1 .1 7 1 . Jeffrey Masson (Cambridge. 229. For a gloss on the word Nature see Camille Paglia. Sexual Personae (New Haven: Yale University Press. The Future of an Illusion. p. p. 49. p. translated as Dionysos at Lar by Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge. 79. The Moses of Michelangelo. Freud. p. 5-58. 2 1 3. f 9. Gay. p p . 80. Freud: Master and Friend (London: Imago. 234. SE XIII. Quoted in Gay. SE XXIII. W . 5. Quoted in Gay. 1 6 . Freud. Freud. 7. p. Hans Sachs. f 6. 1 0 . Freud. 1 990) . p. 2 1 1 -240.

"On Composure. "The Hill of Intrusion": Nessie Graham Ikkyu. "Worrying and Its Discontents. "Plotting for Kisses" (Autumn 1 987) . no. 2 (1 989). "Returning the Dream: In Memoriam Masud Khan" (Autumn 1 989) . "On Being Bored" (Autumn 1 986). The following have kindly granted permission to print seg­ ments of poetry: John Berryman. 4 (1 986) . 4 (1 985) . S. " 5. " 9. Crow with No Mouth: Copper Canyon Press Adam Zagajewski. "Psychoanalysis and Idolatry" was published as "Freud's Idols" in the London Review of Books. " 6. 5 ( 1 992) . "Ode to Plurality": CoBins HarviB . "First Hates: Phobias in Theory. 2 ( 1 986) . Earlier versions of seven essays were published in Nouvelle Revue de Psychanalyse: "On Tick­ ling" (Spring 1 985) . no. "On Risk and Solitude" (Autumn 1 987) . Farrar. Graham. " 6. no. and "Play­ ing Mothers: Between Pedagogy and Transference" (Spring 1 992) . no. 27 September 1 990. " 1 1 . "Dream Song 14": Faber and Faber Ltd. "Dirge": Jonathan Cape Ltd.Credits Earlier versions of five of the essays in this volume were pub­ lished in Raritan: "On Tickling. and "On Being Bored. "On Composure" (Autumn 1 985) . no. Straus & Giroux Bob Dylan. W.

objects and. 49. 95. rep­ resentations of. 5 1 Ambivalence. 75. 31. Alfred. 103. in objects. 81 . true. 55-56. Francis. 28. 94. 53. 95. phobias. 1 1 8. 48. 78 Acknowledgment. 55. 1 1 6 Bollas. 76 Bonnard. 4 Authority/power. 64. 105-106. 34-4 1 . risks of. 93. as mother substi­ tute. 1 1 .Index Absence: of mothers. 44. 1 1 0. 41 . 82 Adolescence. 101 Attention. John. f antasy and. 94 Autonomy. 36-37. John. solitude in. 40 Body. 69. 33. 6 "Analysis Terminable and Interminable" (Freud). ob ject seeking in. of objects. 76. 45.1 20 Aggression. Pierre. Theodor. 67 (Freud). 78. 22. 30. used in psychoanaly­ sis. Christopher. Penis Catholicism. 39-40. 7. 69-70. 49 Castration. IS. 59. 53. suck­ ing of. 32. 105 Cage. 15 ree-floating. 32. 48 Authenticity. 40. 1 5. 88. kissing and. 95 Adorno. 29 75-76. 92 "Capacity to Be Alone. 3. 2. 54 Agoraphobia. 32. 77. H. 44. 87. 1 26n22 Adler. 96. one-body relationship. . Being and Nothingness (Sartre). 13-16 Aimlessness. 68. W. f ree. desire and. 73. 94. 75 Anxiety. 52-53. The" (Win­ nicott). 38 See also 9-10. 18. 5. 97. 48. 1 1 7 Censorship. 1 1 1 . 1 6. 74. 98. Maurice. Wilfred. 96. integrity of. 78. 30 Adults and adulthood. 94. 3. as experience. as object. 20. 1 1 7. 1 1 7 98-99. 36 Betrayal. 93-94. 16. Bion. 9-10. vs. composure of. 94. inf antile sexuality and. boredom and. 30. 43. 3 1 . worries and. 32. 1 2 1 . movement. 1 00 British School. 1 1 9. 30-31 . f Auden. 64. 47. 96 Art and artists. 27. intellect. false. 43. Bacon. risks of. 102. 75. 39. 1 1 2. 45. 28-29. 63 Care. 105-106 (Burton). 45 Autoeroticism. 3 1 . 1 1 3-1 14 Artaud. 87. sexuality in. 66. 43. 5. 103 Chekhov. tickling of children. Jean Martin. 78. 75. 9 1 . 103 Breast. stories of. 100 See also Religion. True Belief Benign circle. 30. ruthlessness and. 68-78 Bowlby. 30. Anatomy of Melancholy Anticipation. 49. 1 1 9. 84 Antisocialness. 106 Anal stage. 34. 35. 89. 60 Association. sucking of. All for Love (Dryden). 1 9 Boredom. 120. 74. 1 1 5 Analogy. 87. 4. 32. 22. -inf ant relationship. 69. 86 Charcot. 62. 60 "Beyond the Dreaming Experience" Beyond the Pleasure Principle 43 (Freud). 59. 81 -82 Belief. 103. of mother. 32. 3 1 . 58. S. 107 Blanchot. Antonin. solitude in. 1 -3. 100 Children and childhood: tickling of. kissing and. boredom and. . Anton. religious belief.

37. 29. 80 Control: o mnipotent. dreams and. 98 Davidson. 82-85. 65. 49. 89. phobias and. 39-40. 86-87 Concern. 41 . in psychoanalysis. instinct. 104.Index . 65. 1 1 2. a s text/experience. 77. sensuality/sexual theories. 43. 24. 69-70 Dependency. 55.1 1 9. 7. 39. 1 1 2 Demands. 95 Darwin. 105. 7 1 . 23. 99. for object. simulation of. 128n2 Defenses. 33. 76. 9495. 9 1 . in dreams. defense Delusion. 66. 84 Conflict. 103. 39. 62. satisfac­ tion of. 64. 55-58. 36-37. 25. ego and. 58. preconditions for. excitement and. 55. sexual. 82. 104. wishes and. 66. obstacles and. 39. 65 Desire(s). 88 Double-think. 51 Diff erence. risks. 102. Charles. 6 . 20. 89. 6 1 . 78. 109. 77. 14. 45. 47-48. -work. creativity of. desire for mother. mental development. 1 1 5 Disappointment. 54. 88. 62. unconscious and. 55. 99 Dissociation. 90. 1 1 6. 44. 87 Creativity. 4. 65. 30. obstacles to. memory and. 56. 37. 1. 89-90. 86. 102. 96. Donald. 52. unconscious and. mental. exchange of. 28. fear and. 18. self 42. 1 1 7. projection of. 36. worries. 64. 1 7 . 92. 3 Dickens. good. -space. 38.1 7 . 38. 74-75. 7 1 . 92. 48. emotional. 69 Development of Psycho-Analysis. of dreams. 58. 49. 66-67. 67. 2. 20-21 . 64. defensive. 69. Vincent. 91 Construction of obstacles. 57. 107 Descombes. psychoanalysis as. 83. 8 Cure. 53 Depressive Position. 1 1 . of desire. 1 5. 1 20. 4. 1 1 1 . day-. 89. 20. 40. 8485. morality of. risks of. 62. obstacles to. 9. love. 7. 29. 60. 54-55 Conscious. 87. 4 1 . 6. 99 Disillusionment. 90.1 32 Children and childhood (cont. 65. 34 Composure. 94 Development/ developmental theory. 7-8 Conviction. 76 Doubt. 42-46 Compulsion. 57. 4 Cooperation. of mother. 66. 35 Crab be. 92 "Dream Psychology and the Evolu­ tion of the Psychoanalytic Situa­ tion" (Khan). 78. perversion and. 92 Dream(s). 34. solitude and.1 3. bore­ dom. 79-80. 50. worries and. 66. 64. 38. 76. 36. 96. 29-30. 68. idolatry. 1 0. 69. 90-91 . 6. 75. 53. 63. 45-46. obstacles and. 3. 49. interpretation. 55. 1 1 8 Christianity. 43.) Depression. 34. phobias and. 36. 1 -3. 43. psychoanalysis and. 1 1 9. 68-76. 1 6 . 93 27. 1 8 . 86 Dialogue. 1 1 7-1 1 8 Claustrophobia. 48. 7 1 -. 92 Continuity. 35. 1 6. 75. 54. of infants. 70. Charles. 77. 44 Controversial Discussions. 1 3. 1 1 . 4 1 . 59-60. 73-74. 66 Culture. 1 7 Compliance. 66. 23 Death. 83. 92. of infants and children. boredom and. 74. The (Ferenczi/Rank) . 76. 49. 72. 90-91 . 70-71 . perversions and. 24. 68. 61 -62. 45. 1 2. 27. See also Worrying Confessions (Rousseau). 97-98. 27. punishment. boredom and. 26. lan­ guage games in. 39. Curiosity. 1 4. 55. 64. 1 1 8. of charac­ ter. self -expression. 100 Despair/desolation. 66. 104 Conversation. George. 70. 65. phobias and. 28. use of. 35.1 7. 1 6. 75. 33-34. 45-46. unconscious. solitude in. 59. 64 See also Self: protection/ . 46. 10. repetition. magical. 73. 64. memories. 3 1 . 4445. 39. construction of obstacles. 43. 27. 1 1 . 71 Destruction. 58. 6 1 . 80-8 1 .

external (outside world). 109-1 1 1 . 1 1 5. 97. 75. 102. Forgetting. of continuity.1 7. 43. 50. 14. 23. 1 03 . on religion. 62. on mourning. 9 Facts. 1 1 5. 1 1 4. testing of. 1 1 4. 2 2 . 46 Guilt. 106 False Self. -ideal. 105 Genitals. 1 27n9 Genius. 121. 1 2 . Sexu­ Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (Darwin). 7. 38. 1 1 6. 4 1 . waiting for (boredom). 48. object/subject relation­ ship in. 1 1 0. 9 1 . 1 1 1 Fantasies. on dreams. 53. 14 English Synonymes Explained 87 (Crabbe). 20. 4. 42. 60. 63. 80. 52 Future of a n Illusion. 1 1 . 81 . phobias and. 107. wishes and. 30. 24. 76. 97 Fetishism and fetishes. 1 1 5. 59. 66-67. 44. 3. internal. 86. 65. 73. 1 1 9 Fear. of success. 93-94. 8. 101 Future. dreams as. 40. 1 4 Groddeck. of greed. 48. 1 5. 76. 9 1 . 54. or use of. 96 Green. 45. -psychology. pure plea­ sure. of castration. 87 See also Sensuality. 1 1 . sexual develop­ ment theory. of children and infants. 43. 1 3 Excitement. 96. 1 -3. devotion to science. 101 . oral. 40. search for obstacles by. 46. 34. 87-88. 34 Hate. 106. 97 Ego. 43. 88. incestuous. 60. 33 Greed. 87. Anna. 1 1 5. 70 Family. desire and. 1 7. of kiss­ ing. 42. 9 1 . 54. 97. 54. 36. 93 Function. 74 "Envy and Gratitude" (Klein).1 04. 6 1 . 43. 59. of body. 97. 1 5 Freedom. 50-5 1 . 104. 6 Eroticism. 80. 24. 57. theory of the unconscious. 1 1 2 Environment. 46. 43. 3. of self. 32. 63. 103. 1 2-13. auxiliary. 24. 1 4. fantasy of. Sandor. 25. 68. 1 08. 2 5 . 38 Eros. 22. 39. on desire. 1 1 6. 53. 85. 1 03 of mother. on excess.1 02 Fathers. 68-69. 107 Freud. 44. 46. 103. 25. Wilhelm. 64. 55. 107 F1iess. 7 1 . 10-1 1 . 24. 75. 55. 6. 10. 99-100. 1 1 6. oral eroticism and. 39. 98. 98 Estrangement technique. 72. 22. 58. 69 Empiricism. 25. 1 04 Gender. 54. o n fetishism. 4 1 . waking. See also Phobia(s) Feelings. idolatry and. 1 6. 1 1 2. of purpose. 97-98. o n jokes. 1 1 . 95 Ferenczi. 102. on idolatry. 90. 3 Good life. 57. 87. 94-95. obstacles and. 37. 33. 1 0. 52. erotic. Andre. 72. 1 1 0. 27-28. 1 1 3-1 1 4. 32. 44. 38 Fairbairn.1 1 3. 9. 87-88. 70. 1 61 7. 10. 9 1 -92. tickling as. on psychoanalysis. 1 00. 69. 54-55. 1 6. 93-94. 96. f dreams. Ronald. 1 6. 1 5 . 3. 25. 32. of desire. ality Erotogenic zones. 1 5 . 65. 96. 96. on worrying. 1 6. 50. mastur­ bation. 88. The Faith.Index . 6 1 Hallucination. 32. 75. 6 1 . 36. 54. 95 Emotions. 1 3. (Roth). 4. 77. 65. Sigmund. 1 00. repression of. 50. 66. 1 04. of f unction. 102 Evolution. 36. 88. 1 1 8. emo­ tional. 7 1 . 120. 84-85 Experience. 1 1 8. 1 8. 77. 32.1 1 7. 60.1 8 . 40. 53. 24. 35. 1 1 . 87. 93. Georg. 8 1 . 39 Freud. 59. phobias and. 41 . 1 1 8- Games. 65. 71 . 92 Embarrassment. perfect. 92. 66. 78. 1 1 . 23. 89. 5. on phobias. 1 20 (Freud) . 24.1 33 Eating and feeding. 88. 14. 57 Free association. 5. 72. 14. The 1 1 9. 34. on mothering. 7 1 .1 20 Frustration. 94. 6. on ego. 1 5 . holding. 1 1 5.

4 1 . 69. 1 5 . 1 1 0. 63. 1 03. 64. 46. 9. 57 Helplessness. 27. 31 . 1 04. 13. 64. 105. 54. 63. 34. beforehand. 37. unknowing/not-knowing. 1 1 8. 70. 34. 23 Isolation. 95-96 Laplanche. 1 05 Idolatry. 1 03. Masud. 59. 32. objects and. 65. 57. 1 1 2 I dealization. mental development. 1 1 6 Intelligibility. on objects. 75. 32. 3 1 . 67 Hesitation. I. 59. 1 20. 59. 105-106. 65. 32. 24. 63. 44.1 2 1 Imagination. 27. 1 07. 33. defined. 24. 69. 41 . in psycho­ analysis. wishes and. 66. -mother relationship. Hunger. 1 28n4. desires of. 93-94. f ailure of. 7. 1 1 7 Life-stories. 36. 64. 56. 1 1 8. 85 "Instincts and Their Vicissitudes" (Freud). 6 1 . 6. on instinct. 95. of self. Jacques. of transference. 4 1 . 38. 75-76. 2930. 60. 9 1 . 71 . -in-care alone with him­ self. 99. 63. 1 1 2-1 1 3 . of sex. 6 1 . 83 Independence. G. 1 2 1 Language. 42. 81 . 1 6. 62. 93-94. 65. 45. 55. 9. 44-45. 3 1 . 37-38. 74. 55. 28. 54. 1 09. 1 1 4.Index . 62. 91 . 1 1 8. 62 Introductory Lectures (Freud). 66. 1 05 Inhibition. 50. 1 6. 36. See also See also and feeding Hysteria. 76 Laughter. 98. 20. 67 "Kiss. 1 1 6 Judaism. 64. 39. object of. 1 0 1 .1 2 1 Illness. 1 7. 38. 6. 1 0. 4. 39. 89 James. absence of mother and. 44. 85-86. 103.1 3. 6 . 67. 31 . 1 04105. 1 5 . 1 1 6. 1 20 Integration. 22. 1 04. satisfaction of. 43. 67. 35. 75-76. 4. of psychoana­ lyst. 4546. 99. William. 7 Interpretation: of dreams. 22. 1 1 0. 48. 40. by analyst. 2 1 . of patient. 62. 1 1 3. 7. 1 5 . 40 Illusion. 102. oral eroticism. 64. holding environment and. Jean. . 9 1 . 63. 98-99. 43. 66. 66. 69. 1 07. 98. games. 105-106. 31 . 32. 73. 2-3. 1 4. 1 1 9 Hermeneutics. 29. 65. 6 Incest. 1 1 3 Intimacy. 24. 107 Human Nature Humor. 77. 108. 1 6. Ernest. 1 4. 58. Eating Laughter (Winnicott). 6 1 . 62. 4 . 9. description of kissing. 1 2. satisfaction of. 2. 10. 4. 44 Intellect. 36. of experience. 67. 44. o f psychoanaly­ sis. 1 1 8 Jung. 35-36.1 3. 1 07 Knowledge. 63. 60. 60. 5. use of. 4 1 . sucking and relation to breast. 104. 73 Instincts. 28-29. 20. 37. 68. 27. 34. 33. 72. 89. 62. 109. 3 . 34. Libido. 70 Hostility. 1 0 See also Jokes 34. 1 20 Identity and identification. Humiliation. 24 Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious (Freud). 1 06-107. 6 3 . 62 Improvisation.1 1 8 Lacan. 75 Knowing. 74. on hate. 6 . 1 1 5 Khan. 43. of phobias. 7 1 . 64. 8. 1 0. 1 1 9. The" (Chekhov). 5. solitude of. Melanie.134 Health. 30. 97. 100 Kissing. 6 1 . 1 05. 1 07. 8. 60. 47. 1 2. 30. 23. 65. 62. 85 Jones. of self. c . 62. phobias and. impossibility of. on dreams. paranoid­ schizoid position. observa­ tion of. 1 03 See also Jokes . 93-100 Klein. 8. 62. 1 9 Jokes. emotional develop­ ment theory. 67. on love. of mood. 7 . 32. 45 Infancy/infant(s}. 1 1 7. 1 05. 92. 27-28 Irrationality. 30. 1 1 . 1 3. dreams and. 4445. 3 5 . psyche. on depression. 74 Holding and holding f unction. of infant. of idols. 6. 104. 1 6. 9. 65.

absence of.1 35 Linking. 1 05. 1 07. 22. 1 07. 38. 43. pre-oedi­ pal. 1 05-1 06. maternal/paternal. 1 1 9 Moods. 45. 44. 27. 27. 4 1 . 34 Money-Kyrle. 3 1 . 1 9. 1 9. 1 1 2 . New Introductory Lectures. 2 1 . risk and. of worry. 38-39. 88-89. 6 1 . 16. 32-33. 25. 67. lOS. 89. 89 Meyer. 1 03. 38. 69. obstacles and. 1 1 9. 1 20 Object(s). 94. 53 Manic depression. 1 1 8. 53. 32. 14. 44-45. 71 . 1 1 4-1 1 5 Milner. 64. risk/sol­ itude. 1 0 Need. 64. parent/child. 38. 1 04. 46. 1 07. oflove and hate. in psychoanalysis. 1 04. off ear and phobias. The 1 13 Mother(s}. 45-46. 9. S. 57 Merging. 31 . 1 1 3. desires or wishes of child and. Eduard. 1 1 6. 32. 1 1 9. 1 1 3. 45. 7 1 . 1 06. 1 00 Narrative. link-envy. 3 1 . 1 08. 2. 3 Melancholia. 1 03. 94. 1 071 08. 1 02-1 03. 46. 27. 57. 7 1 -72 Memory. disregard or destruction of. (Freud). Joyce. 62. 40. 1 05 "Observation ofInfants in a Set Situa­ tion. 88. 6 1 . relationship to inf ant or child. states of. 58. 77. 25. 24. 1 02. 35-36. 5 Nietzsche. 83. 99. 99. 59. 83. 97. 9 1 . 39. 1 02-1 03. 54. 98. transformational. psychoanalyst as. good. 22. 1 031 04 See also Death Mourning and Melancholia (Freud). 38-39. Hunger Nursing. 1 1 6 desires of. The" (Winnicott). 3334. 32. 88 Mirror. 77. 60. 3 1 . 88. Eating and feeding. 76. 8 1 . 22 Monotheism. 35. 106. phallic. function of. 28-29. develop­ ment. 30. 1 1 5-1 1 6. 104. 40 Nonappropriation. 1 26n22 Nourishment. 25. 99. 64. 89. See also See also Breast Nurture. 35. 3. 72 Obsessions. e. 79-92 Narcissism. -stage. 93-100. 33. 47. The" (Winnicott). 1 4. 1 3 Magic/magical thinking. as object. 62-63. 4 1 . 60. 36. 1 1 3 Michelangelo. 40. 62. 89 Mourning. 99. 44 Mind and mental lif 1 0 1 . 35. 29. 1 7. 24 Neurosis. 59. 99 Murder. 1 9. 3 1 . 40. Roger. of belief. solitude/attention. . visual. wishes and. 38. 52. 85. 59-60. 63 "Mind and Its Relation to the Psyche­ Soma. mental development of infant and. sucking.1 1 5. 7 1 . 85. 90 Masturbation. 63-64. 50 McDougall. concern for. 1 1 9. 88. Marion. 70. 32. 78 Morality. 89. availability of. 1 1 0 Madness. 25. 90-91 . 49. 66. role of. 49-50. transi­ tional. separation from. 3. 45-46. 32. -relations theory. I S . 89. 1 6. as process of transformation.Index . 1 12 Mania. of desire. 59-60. 2 1 . 1 04. 78. Friedrich. 32. Stephen. loss of. 88. subjective. 98. 71 "Negation" (Freud). The (Freud} . 1 06. 77. 1 08 Mothering. 37. 1 24n 1 7 . 59. 97. 38-39. 7 1 . 60. 99. caregiving by. 9 1 . absence of. 43. 61 . 1 1 5(Freud). 33. 1 03-1 04. 53 Obstacles. 76. 37. 92. 1 24n l l Moses. maternal reverie. 68. 90. 44-45. 1 1 4. 34. 44. 93-94. 22. 1 03 Moses and Monotheism 1 16 Moses of Michelangelo. 1 0 1 . 76 Meaning. 1 27n9 Loss. 1 02. 76 Medicine. 5. 40. 72. 76-77. 71 Mouth: kissing. 39. 1 25n6 Mitchell. -seeking. 9 1 . 44. 99 Love. of knowledge. 7576. fantasies of. 34. 49. sexual. 1 2 1 Observation. 77.

waiting and. 1 7. 77. as transition. The" (Freud) . 80 Omniscience. See Memory Reparation. 4 1 . 2-3. 49. 24. 59. 1 1 . 1 9 . opportunities for. 1 2 Phobia(s). 1 2-26. 23-24 Reality. 6 . 93-94. objects and. 1 1 4-1 1 5 Reverie. 107. 22. 27. 106. 9. 2 1 . 5 1 . 86-87 (Kristeva). 66 "Playing Mothers" (Phillips). 5 Rage.Index . 66. ]. 35 Paradise Lost (Milton). 1 1 . 1 9. 1 5 Poetry. 39 Repetition compulsion. 35. contract. 22. 104-105. 59 See also Irrationality Reactivity. 57. 86 Rationality. 42 Paradox. curiosity and. S. 1 1 . 78. 38. Marcel. 1 . 76 Prostitution. 45. 62-63. 119 Presence. 75. 1 4 Protest. defined. of wishes. 1 1 1 . 40 Powers of Horror Pragmatism. 22 Revenge. 38. 1 1 1 "Primitive races. 85-86 Pluralistic universe. 34. 14. 65 Regression. 86-87 Representation. 40. 51 Orality. 7 1 Religion. 46 "Psychoanalysis and Idolatry" (Phillips). 1 1 0. 9. 105-106 Rilke. 30. 22. 39. of states of mind. 105. 80. 45. 55. 1 1 9. 29-30. 9. 7 6 . 1 1 2. 32. 34.1 6. 1 8 . 1 2 1 . 27-28. 1 5. 89. 87 Resistance. Rainer Maria. 1 6. 1 9-20 Psyche. agoraphobia. 7 1 Pedagogy. 25-26 Play. 38. 1 1 0 Pontalis. splitting of. 1 7. 106. 23. 36-37. 67 Perversion(s). 57 Castration Pursuit. 76 Proust. 39 Punishment. 108. 16. 97.1 5 . 1 1 8 Recognition. 85. 86 Psychesoma. of solitude. 53. 50. 75 Repression. obstacles to. 1 0 6 Penis. 94 Personalization process.1 20 Remembering. 1 5 "On Great and Little Things" (Hazlitt). 5 1 . 25. 73. situation. 1 2 Psychopathy.-B. 38-39. 43. 75 Past. 44. Otto. 45. 1 4 Preconceptions. 66.1 36 Oedipal relationships. 97 Philosophy. 63 Present. 97 Pain. 53. 25 Paranoid-schizoid position. of analysis. 54 Purpose. See also Pre-oedipal stage also Mother: pre-oedipal Omnipotence. as defense. 45. 54 Personality. sexual. 86 Provocation. 25. 1 1 8 Privacy. 89. 68. tickling as. external. 8 8 . 68. phobias and. 38-39. 89 Paranoia. 52. 1 6. 15. 77. 27. 43. 63. symptoms as. Psychology: The Briefer Course (James). 43. 2 1 . 29. of experience. 65 Projection. 76. object of. 3 Pleasure. " 1 1 6. primary. 23. 2 1 . 5 "Psychoanalysis and the Sense of Guilt" (Winnicott). 79 Rank. See Pre-oedipal stage. 1 2 . 62. See also Persecution. 32. 58. 89. 1 1 . 96. sexual. 62 Possession. 75. 48. 59. 79-80. 10. 7-8. 89. claus­ trophobia. 1 4 . 48. 108 "On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings" (James). 1 1 8. 6. 29. . of children. 33. 1 1 9. 50. 38.1 7. 14-15. 1 9. 1 9. 85-86. 50. 1 1 1 Pathology. unconscious and. S . 67. 46. 52 "Question of Weltanschauung. 24. of opportunity. 1 5. 26. 65. jokes and. 102. 48. 1 3 . 82 Reconstruction. linking. 1 1 7. internal. 24. 1 0.

39-40.1 1 9. contradictory positions and. 99. 32. 25. 94. 48. -estrangement. 62-63. 99. 39 Sachs. 7-8. 55. 48. 1 1 6 Set situation. 22-23. 3 1 . 99.1 7. 1 1 . 52 Rousseau. loss of. relationship with. sexual. 69. 1 1 2. 1 5 . secondary process. 2. patient's need for. -doubt. 97. 30. 69. 79. 98. of adulthood. 46. 1 9. 74. 65. 1 1 9. identity of psychoanalyst. . 103. 66. 65. -satisfac­ tion. 59. -knowledge. 42. 1 0 1 . identity of patient. satisfaction in. 83-84 Table Talk Taboos. 8. 30. 83. 8 1 -82 Satisfaction. 7. 65. wish-fulfill­ ment. 38. 1 1 4. 1 00 Surprise. 62. in infants. 1 8 . 67. 42. 94 Tickling. -destruction. 100 Transactions. 39. 3. John. 74. 28-29 Smirnoff. 23 (Hazlitt). 100. 94. 77 "Symbolism in Dreams" (Freud). 99. worrying and. 23-24. 1 1 8. 3. 59. pathologizing. 1 0 1 . 72. 78. 29-30. 3. 35. 41 . 1 07. 94. 1 . 1 1 6. 104. of self. 44. 87-88 Solitude. 95-96. Sleep. 75-76 Soma. 88. 1 1 2 Science. 98. 75. -confidence. 67. 2-3. 45 Sadness. 6. experience of. versions of. -transformation. 95-96. 10. -hold­ ing. 66. 104 Tradition. 60. 5. isolation of. 107. 92 Swann's Way (Proust). 1 3 . 68. 96. 2 1 . 48 Space. 6 Theories: psychoanalytic. sexual. object of. 27-4 1 . 85 Ruskin. 40. 1 0. 66. 34. 99. 49 Transf erence. 97-98 Thumb sucking. 60. 3-4. of soli­ tude. 2. 72. 33. -trust. 46. 38. 6. 29. 58. T. 1 1 0. -control. 55. See also False Self. 67. -sufficiency. 40. 1 00. for dreams. 63. in analysis. 92 Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (Freud). S. 70. concept of. 96. 1 1 7. 46. 9 1 . 29. 1 1 1 . S. 99. D. 6. phobias as. 105. 58. 38. 48. of infant. 44. 62. Jean-Jacques.1 37 Risk. 9-12 Time. See also Development/developmental theory Thinking. 44. 99. 74 Setting: for phobias. 1 1 1 Rorty. pleasure in hurting. 91 -92. dream­ ing. 1 6 . 3-4. 30. use of. 94. 54. 3 1 . 1 6. 38-39. 1 1 1 . kissing of. 44. 72. 1 08 Timing. 73-74. 35-36. 1 1 8 See also Eroticism Still Lif e (Byatt). 57. 30. 22. for development of guilt. 85. worries as. S. 66. 32. 63. 5. Richard. 1 3 . -esteem. 100. 105. 64. 46. 39 Romance. estrangement. 29-30. Jean-Paul. 1 1 4. 90 Suzuki. 32. 22 Thanatos. 5 1 Technique/method. 29. 1 1 2. True . 64. 57. 7. 76-77. 47. 27. 28 Symptoms. 10. 43. 94. 1 1 2 Seduction. 42 Ruthlessness. 92.Index . 21. 1 05. 93. 91. 4. 53 Sadomasochism. 44 Sartre. of desire. 10. 94. 1 1 7. 1 7 .1 02. 28. 45. Hans. 22-23. 1 09. 91 Splitting. as obstacles. life-. 73. 1 6. 1 1 . 3 1 . 108. Philip. 99. 84. 109 Sadism. 32. 46. 64. 64 Sexuality. 54. 98. 1 1 2 (Freud). -cure. 1 0 1 . 20. analytic. psycho­ analysis as. 23 Stroking. 75. 1 1 . -presentation/ -expression. 37. 43. 100 Schreber case. 74. of adolescence. 23. of phobias. for desires. 94 Studies on Hysteria Superstition. 99. 52. 37. 6 Roth. Self Sensuality. of uncon­ scious. 70. 1 4. 95. Victor. developmental. 52 Stories. 6 1 . 7 1 . 98. 50. 87. disappointment with. 1 Substitution. 1 06 Self. -protection/-def ense. 1 00. phobias as. 84. 55. 15. 35. 49. 9 . 6 1 . 3. 29. 41 . 1 1 2. 98. of sexuality.

138 Transference (cont. 29. 72-74. 59. 103. on composure. 4 1 . 6. 120. idolatry and. 102. 1 1 2.Index . 37-38. f antasies and. 62. 44. holding concept. 90 Winnicott. 1 9. Freudian theory of. . 59. of symptoms. dreams and. 1 1 1 . 46. 65. 1 3. 68-69. 107. 13. 106. 1 5 . 42. 107. communication. 6. 1 1 . 1 1 8-1 1 9 Unconscious. 83. 1 1 8 True Self. 7. 9 1 -92. on objects. 1 28n4. 56. 49-50. 6 1 . 1 02. desire and. -fulfillment/satisfaction. 109 Weil. 50. 77-78 Wednesday Psychological Society. 7 1 . 14. of instincts. 66. 5 1 . 65. 106. 46. 120. 47-58 Writing. 59. 9 1 -92. developmental theory. of psychoanalysis. 28. 2 1 . 9 1 Wittgenstein. 72. 54. 35-36. of dreams. 87. Peter. 46. 32. 54. 89. 49. 68. 100 Troilus and Cressida True Belief. obstacles and. of transference. 43. 1 . of lan­ guage. 33-35. 29. negative. 43. 64. 65. 4. on isolation and solitude. 65. 68. 3. 12. instinctual. f an­ tasies. See also Object(s): transitional (Shakespeare). 59. 74 . 106 Zweig. 57. 97 Trauma. repression of. 68. 7. 66 Waiting. wishes and desires. of environment. 6 1 . 107 Trust. on ruthlessness. o f objects. 94. 54. 103. 87. 60. 22. on boredom. 40-41 . 39. W . 91. Ludwig. 14. 64. 63. 24 Use: of analogy. 120 Transf ormation. 1 0 1 Unhappiness. 59. 5. 83. f or solitude. 46. 89. 90 Winch. 54. 44. 41 . o f worries. 7. 1 1 5. 1 -3. 5 8 Worrying. Stephan. phobias as. 66. punishment f or. 33-34. defined. interpretation of. 36. 67 Wish(es). phobias and. 70. 41 Truth.) "Use and Abuse of Dream in Psychic Experience. 59. 95. 1 5 . 1 1 2 Unpleasure. 67. of psychoanalysis. 1 05. 107. 28. 6 1 . S. 34. 76-77 Transition/transitional phenomena. 8. to be understood. 75. D. 66. f or obstacles. 75 Wisdom. 3 1 . 107. 39. 66. on perversion. 60. John. 46. on False and True Self. 1 5 . 24. 6. 76. 1 1 2. 64. open. 1 1 1 103. 25. 67. 5. mother-infant relationship model. 1 1 9. 55. 104. 54. The" (Kahn). 72. 66. Simone.

LoverJ 1928. Zeisler Collection. courtesy of the Richard S. Tb. Massachusetts Jacket design by Lisa Clark Painting by Rene Magritte. New Y ork. H A R VA R D U N I V E R S I T Y P R E S S Cambridge.A OAM P H I L L I P S is Principal Child Psycho­ therapist at Charing Cross Hospital [The Wolverton Center] in London and author of Winn icott ( Harvard). .

a promise that psychoanalysis can survive itself. one arm gently �rapped around . and Being Bored announces the coming of age of another.. and saying them with such epigrammatic clarity and persuasiveness that they will never seem as ordinary again.Christopher Bollas I' "Most psychoanalytic writing of the past three decades has attempted to advance theory through the creation of new developmental stages or the adoption of another Greek myth or the offering of new empirical data. On KiMing. is a critical tribute to one great analyst.Frank Kermode / .�kling.the reader's back. but which at once sounds right. but quietly witty and full of beautifully relevant citations. has virtually invented the essay as a suitable form for penetrating psychoanalytic inquiry. whose title may remind one more of Hazlitt or Emerson than of contributors to the technical journals. or so acutely illustrated yourself." . T. Phillips attempts to reconstitute psychoanalysis through writing. Unlike most analysts Phillips writes with idio­ syncratic clarity and a sort of oblique common sense .oblique because he seems to be saying very unusual things about ordinary subjects. Winnlcott. There is always. .Deborah Luepnitz "Not only very original. dismantles with shrewd glee and inspired brilliance one after another of the thoughtless but dogged 'truths ' of psychoanalysis." . Adam Phillips' book is a sign of life in psychoanalysis . that which you could not possibly have thought of. in his argument. Only through acts of critical love such as this can psychoanalysis regenerate the intelligent act of questioning that founded it in the first place:' . Phillips. If Phillips' earlier book."Adam Phillips. More than that. .

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