La chimère transférentielle

Proposition épistémologique, neuroscientifique et clinico-théorique
du transfert psychanalytique comme système complexe.

Thèse de Doctorat en psychologie
Directeur : Bernard Chouvier
Université Lyon 2 - CRPPC

par François Martin-Vallas


This thesis, intended as a contribution to analytical psychology as developed by CG Jung, proposes the notion of a transferential chimera as a dimension of the transference which may not be assigned to either one of the protagonists in the analytic dyad, while still attached to them both. This denomination draws as much on the work of Michel de M’Uzan as it does on the complex semantics associated with the term chimera.

The methodology used here is the clinical and theoretically underscored approach to the single case. It is predicated on the search for a proof of existence, and not a proof of universality.

The first part is devoted to an epistemological discussion which takes account of the fundamental changes in theoretical understanding brought about in the field of physics since the beginning of the XXth century. This encompasses restrained relativity, quickly followed by general relativity and, laiter, by the theory of complex systems and chaos theory. It is contended that Carl Popper’s position on epistemology is in need of revision and that account needs to be taken now of the developments put forward by Theodore Adorno and Edgar Morin. The present discussion concludes that ideas such as emergence and enactment are central to the proposition in that they explain how events that occur in experience at a given time do not necessarily exist prior to their manifestation. Finally, this epistemological discussion seeks to throw light on the profound divergence between the approaches of Freud and Jung that appear to stem from a difference in their particular epistemologies. Here again, reference to physics, specifically to Poincare’s map, allows this divergence to be understood as other than a simple opposition. It assists in the understanding why in clinical psychology as in the field of psycho analysis, divergent and sometimes opposing theories, can and need to co-exist in order to construct as exhaustive a representation of reality as may be possible.

In part two the chimera hypothesis is examined in the light of neurosciences. An attempt is made to represent the analytic relationship in terms of neurosciences. In no sense is such a representation to be taken as real, merely as possible. The aim is to postulate a new method of articulating neuroscience and psychoanalytic theory, whereby the experience of psychoanalytic practice is at a far greater level of complexity than it is currently possible to express neuroscientifically. This enables an account to be given of the existence of dynamics inherent in the psychoanalytic process from their observed emergence between the levels of complexity that are amenable to neuroscientific research and being experienced during psychoanalysis.

Finally, in part three, different aspects of the transferential chimera will be examined as it manifests in psychoanalytic practice. With the aid of a detailed clinical example an attempt is made to establish the existence of this phenomenon. Other clinical cases will centre on an aspect or a specific moment during treatment, in order to support the proof of its existence in other contexts, that is, with patients whose functioning and psychic structure contrasts as markedly from the first case as they do amongst themselves. Finally, each case gives the opportunity to focus the theoretical and clinical discussion on a salient feature of each case.

Thus the working potential of this hypothesis shall have been informed by the archetypal nature of the transference according to Jungian theory, by the potential connection between it and Freudian theory, starting with primary seduction as envisaged by Laplanche, followed by the containing function of the chimera, still in the context of Jungian theory.

Four other aspects of the chimera are proposed for further consideration:

  1. Based on Fordham’s perspective, the ebb and flow of deintegration and reintegration of the self in relation to the constitution and dynamics of the chimera;
  2. The chimera in relation to psychic temporalities as envisaged in Jungian theory and those suggested in the work of Laplanche.
  3. The possibility of examining the chimera in the light of the concept of synchronicity as developed by Pauli and Jung.
  4. In conclusion, highlighting ethics as a guarantor of the psychoanalytic functioning of the chimera and of the psychoanalytic process in general.

Key words: Analytical Psychology, CG Jung, Emergence, Enactment, Complex epistemology, Neuroscience, Psychoanalysis, Transference, Transferential Chimera.

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