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American Imago 59.4 (2002) 385-388
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Peter L. Rudnytsky
As every student of psychoanalysis knows, it was Jacques Lacan who defined the unconscious as "the discourse of the Other" (1954, 379), though I suspect that even many scholars would be hard-pressed to identify the text that is the source of this phrase. Four of the five papers that follow owe more to Jung and Ferenczi than they do to Lacan, but each may be said to illuminate a different facet of his memorable and capacious formulation.
Stephen Frosh, whose paper in the Fall 2001 issue inaugurated my editorship of American Imago, leads off again with "The Other," a brilliant meditation on how psychoanalysis, as the "only real discipline of the excessive," has an indispensable contribution to make in fathoming the "causeless hatred" of racism and bigotry that continues to plague the human species. Frosh cites both Lacan and Melanie Klein as theorists whose ideas seem so "breathtakingly mad" that their "continuing existence" can be explained only "as a sign or emblem of the wildness within," but he draws particularly on the work of Jean Laplanche and Judith Butler to propose that the other is formative of the subject, and hence should be accorded primacy both psychologically and ethically. Intriguingly, Frosh utilizes what might appear to be a relational premise to make a postmodernist argument that the consequent "ex-centric" location of psychic life enriches the subject but also-most notably under conditions of insecurity, oppression, and violence-creates an intense internal disturbance in which hatred of the other, felt to be entwined with the self, has a propensity to emerge.
Joseph Cambray, editor of the Journal of Analytical Psychology, imports the Jungian "other" into a psychoanalytic context in "Synchronicity and Emergence." As his title suggests, Cambray seeks to rehabilitate Jung's notorious "acausal connecting principle" of synchronicity by grounding it scientifically in a [End Page 385] new paradigm derived from work with "complex adaptive systems." A subset of the broader concern of many contemporary scientists with the theories of chaos and complexity, complex adaptive systems are characterized by emergence, that is, a tendency to display patterns of organization as a whole that are greater than the sum of their parts. Examples range from ant colonies to cities. Several Jungian authors cited by Cambray contend that archetypes are emergent properties of the human psyche. In addition to providing a review of the relevant literature, Cambray adduces two instances of synchronistic occurrences in his own clinical practice, and he concludes by reflecting on the precarious balance between chaos and order in the life and work of the mathematicians George Cantor and John Foster Nash. Whether or not one is ultimately persuaded by Cambray's attempt to explain seemingly occult phenomena scientifically, his paper is indubitably a major contribution, and one that is very much in tune with current thinking on processes of unconscious communication in psychoanalysis, as exemplified, for instance, by the exchange between Neil Altman (2002a; 2002b) and Donnel Stern (2002b) in the most recent issue of Contemporary Psychoanalysis.
The Ferenczian counterpoint to "Discourses of the Other" can be heard in the voices of Judith E. Vida and Patrizia Arfelli, both of whom dare to tackle the theme of love. Vida, a founding member of the Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles, writes movingly about her own condition of self-imposed exile from the American Psychoanalytic Association, as a way of making the point that only "if we risk the specific and the personal" can we begin to talk about love, just as she exhorts analysts to acknowledge the inescapable influence of their personal histories on what they say and do in the public arena of "conference space" no less than in the more private arena of "clinical space" shared only with their patients.
Just as Vida practices what she preaches by dismantling what Gershon Molad (2001) terms "door-frame language" in her own avowedly autobiographical paper, so Patrizia Arfelli shows herself to be no less courageous in her treatment of two traumatized adolescent patients. Drawing inspiration above all from Ferenczi's final papers, as well as from...