XX Congresso da
Associação Junguiana do Brasil

Soma, Psique e Individuação

De 14 a 17 de Junho de 2012

Transference and dream in illness:waxing psyche, waning body – Beverley D. Zabriskie -

Journal of Analytical Psychology, 2000, 45, 000-000                         

Abstract: In times of change, crisis, and illness, the excited points of an individual’s personal history are reactivated within the transference and may also be noted by observing countertransference. When there are anomalies in the emotional and imaginal circle of the therapeutic relationship, there is occasion for repetition and/or a transformative opening. In some cases, there is simultaneous treatment of severe developmental fixations and compulsions, and issues of individuation. Images may emerge both from the personal field and from the collective and archetypal imagination. These may be expressions of interpersonal, experience, intrapsychic dynamics, and physical and well as psychic state.

Key words: archetypal, compulsion, dreams, illness, psychoid, transference.


The hole in the centre

The bag of bagels, left in the waiting room, initiated a crucial moment in our long analytic work. The responses and transactions it provoked re-sparked the excited points of his personal story. The energies and images it evoked prepared him to meet what was to come.

         When I first saw the bag, forgotten on the floor, its mattered reality weighed on me as an unsought burden, a concrete intrusion on the

0021-8774/2000/4501/000                 © 2000, The Society of Analytical Psychology

emotional, imaginal, and transferential field wherein we had long engaged the themes of his stories and the stories of his dreams.

         Any decision I made about these bagels would entail an act, outside the circle of analytic understanding, reflection, and interpretation. Any response must involve gesture, with implications and consequences. Some could be anticipated. But given the nuanced nature of the psyche, and the unencompassable reality of the unconscious, the unanticipated could be expected.

         What response would best serve, least injure? As I reviewed my choices, a physical sensation, a knot, informed me that my concern about correctness was coiled around and constricting my imagination.

         I soothed myself with reminders of how often anomalies are therapeutic openings – as long as both parties remain available and stay present, admit and acknowledge. As sometimes happens, the absence of differentiated thought invites common wisdom. If the way to Carnegie Hall, I mused, is practise, practise,  practise, then the way to practise is analyse, and then re-analyse, whatever emerges.

         How the analysand, whom I will call Gordon, and I arrived at some understanding – through his dream response to his waking response to my response to, and engagement with, his left-behind bagels – is the focus and fulcrum of this paper. The cycles so familiar to a depth experience – the interplay of ego reactions followed by the comments of the unconscious, and then an opening into more comprehensive conscious reflection – occurred between and within each of us. Tracking the dynamics of emotion and image in the dialogues of disclosure and discernment, which followed his forgetting, will afford, I hope, both a glimpse at an analytic instance and an overview of a contemporary Jungian process.

         When standing in the doorway between my office and his waiting place, I had first to surrender to the reality of no right response. Then the skeins of dread around my mind  unravelled. Interest and curiosity began to follow the thread through the context of my patient’s experience, the contents of our work, and his current psychic and physical condition. As these started to inform me, I could release my grip on remaining the subject, and so tolerate becoming an object within an excited psychic field and activated process.

         Imaginally encircling the bagels, I first became aware that my first disorientation imitated the maternal confusion Gordon had reported as the earliest episode in his personal history. With the Jungian notion that significant relationships release energies with archetypal resonance, I was ready for charged responses that mimicked mother. Von Franz notes that archetypal fields are ‘contaminated with one another’, and so we cannot ‘separate the archetypes from each other… (they) always appear in specific mixtures…. so hard to describe clearly outside of an individual psychological context’ (Von Franz 1992, p. 9.). If mother was in the mix, then the child was present as well. Somehow my reaction would also parallel Gordon’s experience. And indeed, my suffered sequence of sensations, perceptions, and states traced Gordon’s psychological evolution from a constant expectation of being found in the wrong toward a centre wherein he found himself.

A personal story

Gordon had entered analysis with the same mix of excitement, dread, and wariness that restricted his personal encounters and leashed his longing for contact.

         As an exceptionally bright first son, a faculty child at a small Western university during the Depression, he stood out from his peers. His mother was from the East Coast; his father from an impoverished Western mountain town. On one hand, his self-made parents’ identity was fortified by their disdain for the ‘hoi poloi’. On the other, they refused a private school scholarship lest he identified with the élite. His resulting sense of no place to stand, wounded exhibitionism, and fears of visibility were worsened when he realized his homosexuality.

         From childhood on, his reactive compulsion for control led to an inner demand for prescience and omniscience. Otherwise, he might be destroyed by the unforeseen, devastated by the unpredicted and unpredictable – whether from an unfamiliar part of self or the alien force field of an other person.

         In wartime, he entered the navy for his further education. His stint ended in an honorable discharge after he admitted his sexual preference. Despite an in-and-out undergraduate career at several universities, a brilliant graduate record of contributions to his field gained him a professorship at a prestigious university. As a promising academic, Gordon established a new department. But after some time, university politics and economics left him feeling exploited. Averse to further visibility – as a scholar and as a homosexual – he no longer put his creative work into the public domain. To publish would be to perish. His texts languished in the bottom drawer. He taught and coached younger protégés who would supersede him in rank, readership, and salary.  

         Impelled by his need to know and so dominate what was not yet but might be, his life, as I reflected to him early on, was draining and exhausting. A searing need to surrender to intimacy was at inner odds with a frozen brittleness that kept him in and others out. But, he was also compelled toward fusion in the illusion that by merging with the other, he controlled being subsumed or subordinated. In these contrary ways, he avoided the risk of being affected, touched, moved, influenced, or changed through letting himself be seen and known. Both the servicing abjection in anonymous sexual encounters in public places and the accommodations in his fifteen-year housed relationship were strenuous exercises of submission and domination. The transits between shame and grandiosity, between sought powerlessness and illusory empowerment were wearing him out.

         After several years of reading Freud and Jung – during our work he added Winnicott – he had tried self-analysis through recording and interpreting his dreams. Frustrated, he then entered treatment with a known and published senior male Jungian analyst, who challenged his intellectualism and his penchant for deflection of emotion through wordplay. When Gordon spoke of his dread of the opposite sex, and also of his wish for a heterosexual relationship, he and his analyst decided he should consult a woman.

         He had also been in a therapy group. He was puzzled at not being received – seen as suspect – despite his strained efforts to penetrate the others’ thoughts, needs, desires so that he might become special and essential to them. He hoped  to follow this course with me.   

         He knew – this was eighteen years ago – that I had recently become an analyst. He would enter treatment, and so be the patient about whom I would write the revolutionary book that would make me famous.  

         In return, I would assist him in what we came to call his ‘heterosexual project’. Despite his fear and repulsion of female genitalia, he wished for a relationship with a receptive woman of his age – he was then 56 – as a refuge from the abrasiveness of his sexual careenings and relational collisions.  

         Eighteen years later I am choosing to write about Gordon in this meeting of psychoanalysts in the Freudian tradition and analytical psychologists in the Jungian tradition. I could not have done so before, not until the bartering fantasies of his initial presentation had been dealt with and dissolved. I choose to do so now as his treatment raises several issues regarding analytic suitability, efficacy, and frequency.

         Gordon came when well beyond his middle years. For most of sixteen years, he came only once a week, an equivalent – or is it? – to four years of four times a week. His sexual orientation had long been considered questionable. His symptoms were active and florid; his attempts to discharge were perverse; his narcissistic defences were intense. Could issues of individuation have relevance amidst such developmental fixations? Could archetypal resonance have purchase with his pathology?

         A dream he had before our first meeting gave a glimpse of the distress beneath the bravado of his initial self-presentation. As timely and timeless dream images so often do, it referred to the current moment, to life-long issues, to the transferential momentum, and as I realized many years later, to an informing mythic theme.

         In his dream, Gordon was on a ferryboat. To urinate, he took himself in his hand and streamed against a ship wall. Flooded with intense feeling, he fainted. Some time later within the dream, he awoke, still holding himself. After the ferry docked, he readily entered a round red sports car, driven by a woman at the wheel.

         The ferry, which plies between ports, suggested an in and out, back and forth pattern: from one shore – of self- sense, sexual identity, phase of life, analysis – to another. Taking himself in hand is followed by a faint and an awakening, a disembarking and then re-embarking in the woman’s sporty car.

         In contrast to his avowed readiness for a featured role in my writing, Gordon’s dream reminded him that his aversion to scrutiny often made him faint at faculty gatherings when he received the attention he both wished and feared. On the other hand, his quickness to enter the woman’s red car showed surprising eagerness and belied his felt fear and discomfort toward women. The dream woman carried obvious transferential expectations and counter-transferential implications. But from a Jungian understanding of the intrapsychic valences of dreams, this unknown feminine figure ready to receive him in her sporty vehicle also suggested an as yet unrealized receptivity with self and toward others, a latent mode of playful process. She was the first of many female dream figures. As these moved from ego-alien to ego-near, the strange and distant became known and close, the very young became mature, the rejected were received. Heterosexuality became symbolized as an intrapsychic desideratum. In Jungian terms, integration of anima would move him, create motion, adding a red vehicle for his emotion.

         Chinese wisdom speaks of the place and the way. In his determination to work with a female Jungian analyst, for three years, Gordon took the five hour round trip from another state to my office. He drove his car, neither red nor sporty, to the bus stop. There he took what he called the ‘incubus’ intoManhattanthrough a tunnel – he had a bridge phobia. He transversed a terminal, took a subway, and walked to my office. After our sessions, he reversed this journey. Given the distance, during much of our work he came only once a week. Then he stopped for two years. When he retired from teaching, he came again for another fifteen years.

         While the lesser frequency may have prolonged the treatment, it also allowed Gordon times of grace and rest between his fraught reactions to intimate communication. The years also allowed me to grow in the grace needed to receive all he needed to tell – which was oft-times difficult to say, and sometimes difficult to hear.

         Throughout, our once a week meetings were analytic, understood in a Jungian frame and with a Jungian intent. Making the unconscious conscious was not the stated goal but an intermediate step toward the on-going dialogue between ego and unconscious in contact and conjunction. Nor did I perceive the analytic effort as an axis of regression in the service of the ego, but rather toward the introversion of ego in the service of the psyche (Shamdasani 1998). Gordon’s disturbed dysfunction and health-seeking inner forces  engaged and were synthesized.

         With a  Jungian regard for the progressive nature of  psychic phenomena, symptoms and behaviours were perceived not just as compulsions or perversions but also as distorted and concretized versions of necessary psychic events. With Gordon, each relational attempt, each anonymous sexual submission through frantic entry and exit came from a personality knotted and bound in complexes. His strivings to reach beyond his isolation came in desperate and dramatic gestures.


Jungian chemistry

Jung evoked the model of the ‘coniunctio’, a conceit for transference and countertransference borrowed from alchemy by the Freudian analyst Herbert Silberer. The ‘coniunctio’ model combines transference’s original meaning, which as Kohut reminds us (Kohut 1984, p. 51),  referred to the transfer between Unconscious and Preconscious, with the later emphasis on the interpersonal transference of previous patterns from analysand to analyst. It offers a paradigm for the multiple affective and imaginal vectors in the personal conscious and personal unconsciousness of two psyches that may be at the effect of an impersonal or archetypal background. 

         Even when presuming a consistent presence in one theoretical gestalt, different empirical ‘combinations’ are created as analysts are impacted by each analysand’s ego, persona, culture, and unconscious dynamic. The ‘coniunctio’ conceit – imaginally akin both to the chemical combinations in the alchemical retort and the projective interaction of practitioner with the chemical process  – allows for the agency and affect of both analysand and analyst in the external and internal transfer of information. It also assumes mutual participation – real, symbolic, and imaginary, to use Lacan’s phrase – in a depth psychological field.

         With Gordon, who was both precise and sensitive, painstaking and careful attention was required. I could only be circumscribed and cautious in his anxious hyper-vigilance. Our sessions were his agony and torture. Each intervention, as it did not originate from him, was felt as an accusation of ignorance and a condemnation of incompleteness as he had not already anticipated, thought, and said whatever I would or could.

         I learned as much from my patient as from Kohut about analysing while controlled by the other’s terror at being controlled – by someone else at the wheel. Gordon required that I not know first, nor initiate any thought lest he feel shamed and humiliated by not already knowing. Each intervention had to be empathically contextualized through reflections that he was informing and leading me. ‘From what you are saying … you are suggesting . . . presenting the possibility that. . . the way you are telling . . . connecting. . .the story . . . your dream is bringing to our attention . . . you made me think . . . what you just said explains why this came to mind . . .I didn’t understand until I heard you say. . . given your experience it is understandable that . . ‘. These statements are of course always true, just not so frequently articulated. Yet despite my conscious interest and willingness to be controlled, I noticed that, like the ferry, my attention moved in and out, back and forth.

         Gordon also needed me to know and meet him with words. Words – their roots, significances and uses – were essential to his academic discipline and defences of his identity. As we met, words became less sparring weapons or deflecting shields than objective carriers of human emotion and relationship to which we listened. Hearing and repeating the germs of consciousness which words, their derivations and their roots carry before mind and psyche know what is being said, were our paradoxical equivalent of pre-verbal play. Word play and reverie, spoken and heard, was our way of proceeding in the sports car.

         Language was crucial to mutual understanding. When Gordon expanded his linguistic knowledge to write computer languages which I could not understand, he was frustrated by my limitations. But he was then the driver behind the wheel.

         Gordon’s word-centred history with his mother was dramatic and charged. When a boy, as his mother’s automatic writing recorded God’s words, Gordon interpreted their meaning – often for his benefit and gratification.

         When he first came to analysis, he brought written records of his dream. Was he the mother writing the words of the sender of dreams, and was I, like him, to interpret meanings for my gain? Later he decided to narrate his dreams, so that I would note and record them. Was he then God, and I his mother? Later still, his desire to hear our words became crucial in his engagement with the world and me as he became deaf. He first avoided, then submitted to, and then accepted, a hearing aid so we could carry on the cure supposedly based on talking while the healing took place in the exchange.

         It was some time before Gordon told me he had continued an old pattern. Before or after our sessions, he had harsh sexual encounters in terminals. These disassociated and anonymous events – holes in the matrix around our meetings – kept him connected to old lacunas in his mother and in himself.

         In the psychoanalytic literature, Kohut (1984) and Modell (1990, pp. 102 – 110) are among those who see little therapeutic value in a mechanistic nineteenth century notion of defence and resistance. I did not see Gordon’s behaviour contained within the classical scenario of drive-conflict-resistance to transference, nor as displaced erotic transference, nor only as ambivalence about change or hostility toward his analysis and me. Rather, in Jung’s quantum model of the complexed psyche, this mix manifested the internal psychic struggle between abrasive opposites which went apart and then collided within an afflicted and rich personality.

         Jung suggests that compulsion emanates simultaneously from the shadow and from the anthropos, a primordial potential source of wholeness in the psyche (Jung 1963, para. 148). In his view, the therapeutic task is to free motive, affect, desire and will from sulphuric complexes which seek their own enflamed versions of wholeness. With Gordon, I learned it is possible to confront severe developmental disturbances and primitive perversions, and simultaneously pursue second half of life issues on a spectrum toward individuation. From a progressive perspective, his florid modes of discharge could be seen as distorted attempts at human contact and surrender.

         As he penetrated and analysed his unconscious motives and the motifs in his compulsive acts, these gradually changed into voyeurism at porno movies. As he discovered and digested the underlying meaning of otherwise meaningless encounters, these were later replaced with lunch stops at bagel shops near my office.

         Bagels, shaped around an empty centre, had transformative significance in the course and context of Gordon’s treatment. Bagels, round like the car and the round trip, replaced sexual discharge as Gordon’s way to satisfy hungers and soothe him. As Gordon used phallic energy to probe his connections to himself, to his longtime partner, and to me his sexual compulsion waned. His submissions were now to his need to find a sturdy centre from which to dominate his impulses and control over his behaviour and life. When the AIDS plague later claimed its victims, it seemed his ability to leave his destructiveness behind had saved his life. Now he had left the bagels behind, and they sat on the floor of the waiting room.

         Gordon had revealed his fantasies and behaviours – often hard to speak and hard to hear – over time. Sometimes our patient’s feed us slowly, to prepare us to receive them. Within the imperfect options regarding the bagels, I sought a similar course. To hold him in mind, I had best experience myself as a figure in his mind; as his object, I might better assess how he would be affected by my various choices.

         To leave the bag in the waiting would be to expose him, at a remove, to others, and would also intrude on other patients. To toss it, and then tell him would be dismissive and sadistic. To dispose of but not mention it broke the trust of our mutual attempt at consciousness of what emerged between us. If I kept and presented stale bagels when we met next week ? – no that seemed hostile. . . .

         I was alert to Gordon’s needs to nourish himself not only because Jung stressed the impact of  pre-sexual appetites, such as hunger, in psychic development and a therapeutic relationship, but also because of Gordon’s recounting of his beginnings.

         When Gordon was first born, his mother – who is now one hundred years old while Gordon is seventy-three – was dismayed because Gordon did not know how to suck. Being a bad sucker, he could not draw milk. It stayed in the bottle, and he cried without cease. After some days, his mother learned that nipples needed holes, so that milk could came through.

         To use Balint’s term, herein lay a supposed basic fault – in more than one sense of the term. But whose fault? His or his mother’s?

         In some instances, a patient’s supposed first memory is not as subject but parental object. Gordon’s first story of himself was really his mother’s. A repeated phrase and lasting attitude came from this recounted tale: ‘leave it to Gordy’. The Gordy of this refrain is the messenger about his mother’s ignorance rather than victim of her unknowing. She becomes the narcissistically wounded object of the starving baby who exposed her fundamental fault as a mother.

         And so I looked at the bag: did I experience it as a small white indictment of my not knowing what to do?

         These bagels, circles of his self-care, seemed especially charged as Gordon was dealing with illness. After months of mystery, he had been diagnosed with hepatitis B which had eaten at his liver. In a marked break with past self-lacerations, he had not gnawed at himself with excoriating self- blame by assuming that his past behaviour inflicted this illness. Most recently, a tumour had been found on his liver. He was attending to his psychic stamina with me while feeding his body’s remaining health and strength.

         I knew of Gordon’s health crisis when he was eight years old. Soon after the family moved, he was the only person in his new Western town diagnosed with scarlet fever. He recovered after weeks of quarantine with his mother. She then had a breakdown and was sent back East to be nursed by her mother. Another ‘Leave it to Gordy’ occasion.

          These, then, were the nodal issues in relation to mother: being unfed and inflicting shame; being ill and causing breakdown; being knowing and selfish in interpreting her record of God’s words.

         His maternal relationship centred on food, body and illness, words. The lines of recall regarding his father, an accounting expert, impacted his relation to number and money, to issues of favouritism and preference. This father, a second son bullied by his older sibling, favoured Gordon’s younger brother and viewed his first son with suspicion. Despite Gordon’s avoidance of financial betterment as he dismounted the academic ladder, he found himself well-off thanks to his pension. He nonetheless had difficulty spending money on his own feeding, enjoyment and care. Here, the two parental vectors crossed and were internalized.

         These were the excited points of my patient’s ‘re-transcription’ – Freud’s term – his subjective self-narrative. My Jungian sensor was alert to the added angles of archetypal grids and motifs. For where the personal parents do not mediate an aspect of a child’s need and expectation, then the ego-distant, non-humanized archetypal figures rush in where parents have not tread. Where there are gaps of warmth and nourishment, scars from injuries and absences, and cracks from violations, then the gods of religions and demons of myth, witches of fairy tales and vampires of folk stories enter and sometimes possess. 

         Sometimes the child with the deepest sense of order is the most intensely affected, as if an inherent intuition of rightness results in the sharpest fragmentation. As analysts, we ally with this innate sense of right order or wholeness, which predates and informs psychic experience.

         As we worked, Gordon’s rigidity softened, the frozen feeling thawed – in him toward me, in me toward him, between us. The abrasions between him and his long-time partner diminished as words to communicate emotion replaced words as a defence against emotion. Still, there were gaping holes in Gordon’s capacity to foster and feed himself.


Gesture and responses

What I did – I wonder what others would do -  was to put the bag and its bagels in a freezer. The following week, before he came, I took them out and placed them on the floor next to the couch where Gordon sat.

         Jung wrote a colleague that for him God and the unconscious were ‘that which crosses my willful path’. Folk wisdom states: To make God laugh, tell him you have plans. Given the ever-present reality of the unconscious, there were unimagined and surprising results. Gordon was shocked I knew he had left the bagels. I was not prepared for his dismay. The waiting room is tiny. He waits alone, its only occupant. Not did he recall telling me of the bagel stops. I was startled that, not expecting to be recorded and remembered, he assumed that on seeing the bagels, I thought ‘leave it to Gordy’. In an instant return to that first encounter with the closed nipples, the thawing bagels were frozen reminders of a lifetime’s shaming indictments. I was humbled. Gordon felt humiliated.

         Throughout Gordon’s analysis, while I did not offer personalistic data about my extra-analytic life, there had been an overt use of self on previous occasions when I acknowledged my therapeutic omissions and unempathic commissions. I often processed aloud  my misunderstanding, miscues, deviations of discourse, and failures in my feeling connection to my patient. This allowance that I could be wrong and still remain intact gave the space wherein we could both be human. At this tense time, it sustained our connection as we filled in the holes in my disposition of  the bagels. For many weeks, we processed our respective parts in what happened between us and for him. We spoke of this new humiliation and the old ones.

Then Gordon had this dream.

I am sitting in my analyst’s office alone. She comes through a door – not the door to the waiting room but its twin door, which leads to the back hall, unknown and unseen. As she enters, she lifts her skirts, revealing her private parts. I am astounded, perplexed, and amazed.


If I were Langsian, this dream might cause me to take down my shingle. But analysing dreams from a dynamic perspective teaches that just as we are not literal and externalizing with other dream figures, so too with dreams of the analyst. They may make objective reference to the analyst’s reality, conduct, or unconscious states, and so must be examined in our self-reviews. But the analyst imago addresses an unconscious aspect of the patient’s therapeutic experience and an unrecognized intrapsychic dynamic.

         Whether we refer to Winnicott’s potential space, Lacan’s real, symbolic and imaginary, Ogden’s analytic third, or intersubjectivity (Mitchell & Black 1995), we allude to ways in which both members of the analytic pair are informed, moved and changed by the mutual psychic field. In the conceit of the ‘coniunctio’, the imagery of the unconscious takes the analytic process beyond the ego perspective of each participant and a dream brings an unknown to meet the known.

          While not a Freudian, I was not such a fool as not to have registered the innuendoes of sexuality and pregnancy in holding the bagels in the freezer (a colder version of ‘buns in the oven’). I had also tried to monitor my narcissistic motives in maternally preserving my patient’s food. Gordon had similar associations. Once we negotiated these, we looked to his dream for the new news.

         A striking passage from the mythologist Karl Kerenyi suggests the right attitude. In distinguishing love from love magic, he writes that when there is love, each of the lovers submit to its power. In contrast, in love magic, love is used by one to have power over the other (Kerenyi 1979, p. 10). In the same vein, Jung suggests that in dream analysis, we follow what the more psychological alchemists called ‘true imagination’. We then submit and keep mythopoeic faith with the image – its appearance, valence and context. Then there is a mutual and interactive process, not an expert leveraging of knowledge nor an divisive struggle for authority.        

         Gordon and I circled around what happened between him and me. We noted his reactions to both my presentation of the bagels and the more explicitly shocking presentation in his dream. We recalled the other difficult moments in our analytic history. We remarked on his quick recovery and capacity to stay present. We referenced the analytic and dreams events with the withholding of past encounters, with his more present and receptive relationship with his partner, with his ever-growing presence in receiving himself.

         We noted that Gordon sat alone in the dream consulting room – a circumstance that would never happen in reality. He remained amazed that, given his earlier elemental fears of women’s bodies and genitalia, he found this image peculiar but not repulsive. Both within his dream and in response to it, he was neither frightened nor repulsed by explicit exposure. Through the years of our alternating give-and-take; through direct interaction in his partnership; through friendships with women; through the ego-anima experience of both phallic and receptive energy in his internal ‘heterosexual project’, through his ‘output’ in the world of computer language, he had achieved a male identity which could face even the outrageously vaginal without terror.

         At times of crisis, illness, life and death conflict, Jung noted that archetypal images, that ‘do not in any sense represent things as they are in themselves but rather the forms in which things can be perceived and conceived’ (Jung 1961, para. 347), appear in a personal process. It is not that the individual psyche reverts to and repeats archaic images that ‘account only for the collective component of a perception’ (ibid.). Rather, in those crucial circumstances common to human experience, the psychic imagination produces similarly awesome figures in response to, and shaped by, need.

The philosopher Ernst Cassirer writes:          

Mythical thinking comes to rest in immediate experience:…. When, on one hand, the entire self is given up to a single impression, is possessed by it, and on the other hand, there is the utmost tension between the subject and its object, the outer world; when external reality is not merely viewed and contemplated, but overcomes a man in sheer immediacy, with emotions of fear or hope, terror or wish fulfillment: then the spark jumps somehow across, the tension finds release, as the subjective excitement becomes objectified, and confronts the mind as a god or a demon.

 (1946, p. 33)


While memories, emotions, and insights arose from the pre-verbal, verbal and imaginal dialogues between Gordon, me, and the dream, had we stopped with the personal, we would have missed the mythic contribution emerging from the crack where known and unknown meet, thus adding a larger and life-giving dimension.

         The figure of the female revealing herself is a typical ritual gesture in many cultures. It is an act of regeneration and restoration at times of dormancy, new beginnings, cycles, seasons, and when there are crisis, grief, need.

         The old crone Baubo shows her genitals to make the earth mother Demeter, weeping in grief for her lost daughter, laugh. A tale about the Egyptian figure Hathor is especially relevant. Hathor personifies the energy which conceives, creates, brings forth, rears, encourages, maintains, and celebrates. She helps humankind in transitional times, to see in the dark and unknown passage between life and the after-world after death. In her quintessential story, when the old father Ra was tired from battles and trials, and retreated to sulk, Hathor came and bared her private parts. Ra, roused to laughter, arose from his couch and took back his authority. When the young hero Horus lost his sight, she restored his eyes.

         Gordon’s dream employed me as the baring, exposing woman in the emotional context instigated by the bagels. It depicts a not yet conscious aspect of his experience brought on by my response to the bagels. But as an intrapsychic figure, the inner analyst was also the apotheosis of many dream anima images. Gordon had been burst in by his feeling nakedly exposed by what had occurred and how he received it. As an overarching figure in Gordon’s entire analytic process, the unashamed exuberance of this flashing female was also a response to Gordon’s first dream of fainting when he took his genitals in hand.

         At Tavistock, with Bion in the audience, Jung referred to four stages of transference. In the first, one treats ‘all the relationships which the patient has had before (Jung 1935/1968, para. 359). In the second stage one discriminates  between personal and impersonal contents, the purposive and compensatory functions which belong to the structural elements of the psyche (ibid., para. 368). The third and fourth stages of transference are the differentiation of ‘the personal relationship to the analyst from impersonal factors’, and ‘the objectification of impersonal images’, from a ‘centre within the psyche, but not within the ego’ (ibid., para. 373).

         Gordon’s dream also corrects his felt humiliation with an archetypal image of female active, reflective and coping energy, interested in the sustenance of vitality and the restoration of authority through and irreverent laughter.

         Gordon’s integration of this image became crucial in his self care. He was risking an unproven treatment of his cirrhotic liver with anti-viral drugs, but not Interferon. He was soon to be hospitalized for aggressive chemotherapy – chemo-embolism – for his liver tumour. Despite this unconventional treatment and his age, Gordon hoped to be accepted for a liver transplant. This indeed was a time ‘of fear or hope, terror or wish fulfilment’ when the spark jumps across… Following his unsubtle dream image, we spoke of the importance of Gordon being open, making himself visible to the transplant team. He would present himself in his full authority, use his title of Doctor, tell of his accomplishments. He was accepted as a candidate for a liver transplant. The team calls him The Professor. But there was more to come.       

         Jung implies a mind-body connection in emotions ‘not detachable like ideas or thoughts, because they are identical with certain physical conditions and are thus deeply rooted in the heavy matter of the body’ (1935/1968, para. 317). He saw psyche manifesting as an energic continuum moving from instinct through symptom and image to symbol (1932, paras. 232-342). Assimilation of instinct takes place only through the integration of the image which signifies and evokes the instinct.

         Reflection channels excited energy away from discharge and toward expression, when emotions, affects and instincts are involved in configuring images with archetypal resonance. These may be seen as ‘the instinct’s perception of itself’, describing bodily states and processes through analogies.  These archetypal images ‘sometimes seem to cross over into the realm of matter’ and thus are ‘psychoid’ (Von Franz 1992, p. 251).

         Gordon’s psyche waxed even as his body waned – or rather seemed only to wane. Then his physical reports revealed the bodily process which was counter-intuitive but imagistically what his enlivening dream reflected.

         Gordon’s chemo-embolism killed the tumour hanging from his liver. ‘Complete necrosis’. But the effects of hepatic disease blocked the flow of blood through his liver toward the heart so waste products are not regularly processed. What is now saving Gordon’s life is that his ‘peri umbilical collateral vessels’ have reawakened. In other words, the dormant umbilical system from his foetushood have, from the pressure of his blood, reactivated to bypass the blood around the diseased liver. ‘The image is the instinct’s perception of itself’. It is as if the generative, conceiving, re-generative, restoring power of his body twin of his psyche, burst through the back dream door and announced herself before the MRI recorded her presence. He brought the report, we realized its import, and felt our awe.

         Gordon is living his life, engaged in it as a process emanating from himself. While he has given me the release to write this paper, he is only mildly interested – it no longer  matters if he is the subject of my writing. His physicians are also writing about him. Both psyche and body are making it into print.

         In the months after his dream, Gordon recalled many positive aspects of his boyhood. He lay awake one night remembering his mother sitting by the radio for recipes for delicious meals to feed her family. He remembered growing fat on her food, perhaps to redeem her early failure of feeding. It then seemed important that when he left my office after our scenario with the bagels, he threw the bag in the basket at the end of my block. As he rounded this corner, he began necessarily to leave me behind.

         Gordon may or may not accept a transplant should he be offered a liver. He will not do so only to be special, as he might have in the past. He can repeat the chemo-embolism if need be. He will choose when the time comes, according to his felt sense of what is life-affirming. He need not know ahead of time.

         In the last period of his analysis, Gordon has relied on its dependability but not been dependent on our relationship. As I write this in the summer of 1999, Gordon and I will meet one last time, before he and his partner move toCalifornia. Meanwhile, as his dream suggested and expressed, his psyche has claimed its authority, his body reclaimed some health. He will be very visible with two academic institutions naming two of his collections  – his library and music collection – in his honour. His mind, always active, invents, configures, creates computer language. As the necrotized tumour continues to shrink, he hopes for some regeneration of his liver.

         Gordon has lived on his edge with grace, humanity, humility, and even peace. And humour, despite travail. A while ago, as he left my office, he turned in the doorway and said: ‘You have a problem. Someone’s left a scarf in the waiting room’.





[Insert French abstract attached]



In Zeiten von Veränderung, Krise und Erkrankung werden die erregten Punkte der Geschichte eines Individuums in der Übertragung reaktiviert und können ebenso bemerkt werden über die Beobachtung der Gegenübertragung. Wenn Abnormitäten im emotionalen und imaginalen Kreislauf der therapeutischen Beziehung vorhanden sind, gibt es Gelegenheit für Wiederholung und/oder eine wandelnde Öffnung. In einigen Fällen geht die Behandlung schwerer Fixierungen in der Entwicklungen und Zwänge einher mit der simultanen Behandlung von Individuationsthemen. Bilder können sich sowohl aus dem persönlichen Bereich als auch aus der kollektiven und archetypischen Imagination entwickeln. Diese können Ausdruck zwiwschenpersönlicher Erfahrung, intrapsychischer Dynamik wie auch physischer und psychischer Zustände sein.




In momenti di mutamento, di crisi e malattia, le zone stimolate dalla storia personale di un individuo possono riattivarsi all’interno del transfert e possono essere rilevate osservando il controtransfert. Quando esistono anomalie nel campo emozionale e immaginale della relazione terapeutica, c’è occasione per la ripetizione e/o per un’apertura trasformativa. In alcuni casi è posssibile contemporaneamente sia il trattamento di gravi fissazioni nello sviluppo e di compulsioni, sia la comparsa di spinte individuative. Le immagini possono enmergere dal campo personale e anche dal mondo immaginale collettivo e archetipico. Queste possono essere espressione di esperienza interpersonali, di dinamiche intrapsichiche, e di stati sia fisiche che psichici.



En tiempos de cambio, crisis, y enfermedad, los puntos álgidos
de la historia personal del individuo son reactivados dentro del
transferencia e incluso pueden evidenciarse observando la
contratransferencia. Cuando hay anomalías en el círculo imaginativo y
emocional del relación terapéutica, hay ocasión para la repetición y/o
para la apertura transformativa. El algunos casos, hay simultaneamente
el tratamiento de severas fijaciones en el desarrollo y compulsiones,
con aspectos de imágenes de individuación que pueden emerger del campo
de lo personal, y del campo colectivo y la imaginación arquetipal. Esta
pueden ser expresión de la experiencia interpersonal, de la dinámica
intrapsíquica, y del estado físico tanto como del psicológico.


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For the second time, the JAP conferences have challenged me to clinical exploration and for this I am enormously grateful, especially to Coline Covington and Joseph Cambray. Sonu Shamdasani has been most generous, as usual, with his thoughts and his sources.