Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for the ‘Melanie Klein’ Category

The Imaginative Life

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on October 16, 2012

Allowing one’s imagination to flow, without a goal or consequence, is the heart of analytic work. Free association, that elusive ability to say what comes to mind, without fear of judgment from self or others, is the “royal road” to understanding the layers of motivation which determines both the big and little decisions of one’ life. Inhibitions to free association comes about, at times, from early shaming experiences where the child learns that his mind is somehow toxic and should be kept quiet, for fear that he will embarrass himself and/or his family. This prohibition of expression, to varying degrees, leads people to be shut off from themselves, from the power of their own ideas. For example, Tom, a man who has “writer’s block” feels deeply, in a way that makes no sense to him, that if he begins to write, he will steal someone else’s ideas and then be accused of plagiarism, thereby ending his career. This fear, as he reports, makes it impossible to feel any ownership over his own creative output. On further exploration, he talks about his father, constantly unemployed during his childhood, was threatened by this patient’s possible success, and hence demeaned him constantly, in order to feel superior, or so Tom surmised. Now, Tom demeans himself as a way of identifying with his father, and also as a way of not making his father feel more inferior. As we talk about our theories of his “writer’s block,” we begin to see his “brain shut-down” as a way in which he is afraid of his imagination, the part of his brain that at times, he is so proud of, and at other times, he is scared of. The creative mind can be a threatening place. Psychoanalysis helps with that.

Posted in Melanie Klein, Psychoanalysis, Teaching Psychoanalysis | 5 Comments »

‘Bodies By The Side Of The Road’

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on June 12, 2012

“Bodies by the side of the road,” I say to Rosie, twenty-five, describing the image I have as she describes her constant rejection of men who are interested in her. “Wow, that is a powerful thing to think about. I don’t see it that way. I just have not found the right person.” Rosie says in a way that makes me think that she is being defensive. Her fear of intimacy feels palpable to me. Everyone she dates is flawed in some major way, but as we discuss, each potential partner begins idealized and over time, the almost inevitable disappointment sets in. “Maybe we need to think about how that happens that you go from excitement to disappointment in about four dates.” I say, trying to tread lightly over this very sensitive subject. “I try to keep an open mind but then my needs are not met and then I can’t stand it any longer.” Rosie says, again pushing away a sense of internal disappointment and thereby projecting the upset outwards. “Maybe the trajectory of your dating reflects an internal process which feels insatiable in some way.” I say, again moving the discussion from outer forces to inner forces. “Well, maybe,” Rosie says reluctantly, “but I think I have just not found the right person.” “Maybe when you feel you are the right person, then you can find the right person,” I say, trying again to help her see that the ‘wrong person’ may be a projection of how she feels about herself. “I hope there are not too many more bodies,” I say, maintaining the imagery of the pain of her chronic rejection of potential mates. “I don’t feel that bad,” Rosie insists. “And yet, I have a wounded feeling,” I say,  explaining that perhaps I carry the upset for her. “Interpersonal dynamics are very interesting. Maybe I am feeling something from you, and yet you don’t feel it.” I explain a concept of projective identification, pioneered by Melanie Klein. “Maybe,” Rosie says as she leaves confused.

Posted in Melanie Klein, Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy, Relationships | 6 Comments »

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