Sunday, November 18, 2012


I define addiction as a repetitive behavior that is aimed at providing pleasure (or subduing pain) but does not quite work. So the person keeps doing it but at the same time feels that something is missing from the whole picture. One of my first revelations, on this blog, says that, "Addiction is the ultimate real abstraction.'' I wrote this and I never quite understood what it meant. Today, I read a couple of pages from the Newirth book over and over and I had a feeling that something really important was in those paragraphs. Something related to addiction and abstraction. Here are some quotes. They are very difficult to read.

Basch-Kahre (1985) presents an interesting discussion of the hidden aspects of concrete thinking and of the difficulty in progressing past these early representational and organizational processes in patients who have psychosomatic and borderline problems. She conceptualizes these archaic thought processes as operational thinking, which is concrete and logical, with no room for feelings, metaphors, or symbols. ... She underscores the important point that logic and the capacity to think abstractly are qualities that are independent of the patient's capacity to use symbolic thought, and that individuals may have the capacity for high levels of abstraction in their ability to understand and solve objective, mathematical, and technical problems while continuing to function concretely n their personal and subjective experience. ... She focuses on the difference between the patient's ability to use logical and abstract processes in reference to external or objective events (material reality) and the ability to use symbolic process in relation to intimate relationships and the development of the internal world of fantasy and emotion (psychic reality). ....
Winnicott (1971) addresses a similar concept ... in which experience can be located either in the external objective world or in the internal subjective worlds. Winnicott presents a carefully reasoned argument about the subtle difference between the concrete thought processes of the false or objective self organization and the capacity for symbolic thought in the patient who is a subject, a true self. Winnicott illustrates symbolic thought processes as located internally in the psychic reality through the analysis of a patient's dream, which involves the mutual development of meaning through the implicit and explicit discourse with the other. He describes a concrete or literal experience located outside of the person in material or external reality, citing a patient's daydreaming as concrete, ruminative, and not differentiated from the experience in itself, resulting in paralysis rather than self-directed action in the world. ... Winnicott states, ''Fantasying was about a certain subject and it was about a dead end. It had no poetic value. The corresponding dream, however, had poetry in it, that is to say, layer upon layer of meaning related to past, present, and future, and to inner and outer, and always fundamentally about herself.'' ---pp. 129,130, Between Emotion and Cognition

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