Tuesday, October 4, 2016

"thought" acts or acts in fantasying and light, dark, and fire pt 1

I've posted before about speech acts. For me these came to light in people with aggression blocks or inhibited personalities who have problems saying no or being assertive. Often they'd talk about childhood incidents in which they were wronged and displaced onto others were condemnations about parents or siblings. They wouldn't express this anger themselves and when asked to they felt resistance to do so. However, after they did say it (with affect) they felt a breakthrough and a release occurred.

With many psychotic patients I've encountered resistance to fantasying about certain things that follows the pattern of speech acts. A psychotic man mentions a woman who was smiling at him at a gas station. I ask him to use active imagination and create a story about her approaching him and how she might come into his life in some way. He won't let himself do it.

Another psychotic man brings up his childhood home and his longing for it. I ask him to imagine he's a few blocks away from it and to imagine what kind of figure or figures are in the way of him getting home. He says the devil. He goes through twists and turns, imagines his mother and brother come to aid him, but no matter what, the devil interferes with it. I ask him to imagine something happens to the devil or that he somehow makes it to the house but he can't let himself.

With these 'experiments' it's easy to imagine that it's simply a transference issue with me and that they could really imagine these things if they wanted to. However, in the instances in which things have moved forward, the resistance is attached to strong affect or anxiety.

A man in a psychotic depression represents his depressive feeling as him being in space, or utter darkness, without anything in it (a universe of total emptiness and darkness). He doesn't even have a body in this representation but is just the point at which his vision exists. The first thing he imagines to enter this universe is a single beam of light. He can imagine that it hits him and that his face emerges but he can't go farther than imagining his neck also enjoys the warmth of the light.

As with some others, he attaches the idea of God to this light and, in what appears to be a dialectic, he won't accept or trust that the light will nurture, warm, or provide for him and has his own light in the form of a fire. The fire that he can "immerse" himself in can be provided by alcohol, video games, or things of an addictive nature. He represents this fire as him "keeping control" for himself and feels turning to the light is a "surrender" he doesn't want to do. When asked to imagine the act of surrendering to the light, he changes the visual representation into accepting a hug from an unknown figure. He associates accepting it with taking the stranger's pity. We work past this resistance through the transference. He accepts it but doesn't put his own arms around the figure and feels a powerful physical urge to "retch." He then scotomizes the feeling and ends his fantasying.

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