Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fart-Induced Coma and Mysticism

I had a mini-stroke this morning. We woke up early but did not leave the bed and talked about many subjects. At one point, Sima was describing one of her friends who is always serious and never lets her true emotions and personality come out. I felt the air grew dense and the talk became too serious, so I broke a fart. Sima was not sure what happened and came to a pause, and I broke the second one louder. She had mixed feelings of anger and surprise and started to laugh. And I broke the third one, the strongest, and by this time I was already laughing so hard that I felt I was not getting enough air … and then it happened: I went to some sort of momentary sleep, Sima's voice faded, and I had the strangest dream, that the flow of my thoughts had changed. Specifically, my normal thought process was vertical and in the dream I had horizontal thoughts. And I got really surprised. After a couple of seconds I heard Sima again and everything was back to normal.

I have started reading Michael Eigen's, ``The Psychoanalytic Mystic.'' [Link] It is a dangerous book, for me, and I would not read it a year ago, but I feel ready now. I have been involved with mysticism, as some sort of coping/defense mechanism, since I was 10-12 years old. It is a very tricky subject for me.  

Monday, November 25, 2013


I run "you".
Reach "you",
by accident.
Who's "you"?
A father, who
could not protect
A mother, who
could not love
when most needed?
I seek.
I seek "you"
this time
I am found
and to feel complete
once more
once again.


Where do we make the decision to forgive ourselves? To look back at our past, what they did to us, what we did to them, and say, you are forgiven, you are free from those horrors, now let them go and get on with your life.
Am I going to be free?
At least, I won't carry any secrets anymore, everything is coming out in therapy.

The salvation of man is through love and in love.---Victor Frankl (p. 49, Man's Search for Meaning)

There is a place in our soul that has to, and want to, accept us: now be, no escape, struggle, fight, trying hard, anymore, just be.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Lacan: Lack, Separation, and Addiction

A quote from ``Lacan and Addiction: An Anthology,'' a collection of articles edited by Y.G. Baldwin, K.R. Malone, and T. Svolos, that I am browsing on Amazon [Link]:
When Lacanians refer to the Phallic order, they are referring to the profound effects of castration and lack on the subject. The Lacanian notion of castration and the desire of the Other is tied to the subject's assumption of lack; it is a matter of separation, … Once a person enters the symbolic world, a world of symbols, they incur a loss, a lack in being. This loss exists in tandem with a lack in the Other (which in turn is covered over by drugs, ideologies, the drama of everyday life, scientific knowledge, etc.) 
I am really interested in this book because of (1) My current obsession with Lacan! and (2) My long time obsession with the topic of addiction.

What really draws me to Lacan is that when I read Lacanian psychoanalysts, I can smell Molana (Rumi) and his poems, specially when he talks about separation. More generally, I am beginning to see a close connection between psychoanalysis and mysticism!
Just to drive this point a bit further, here is a quote from another book, ``Kabbalah and Psychoanalysis,'' by Michael Eigen that I am browsing on Amazon [Link]:
It is one of the themes in Kabbalah, and one of the themes in aspects of psychoanalysis, that we are broken. And, at the same time, there is an odd paradox---a kind of paradoxical monism rather than dualism---that we are whole and broken at the same time.
You tell me, if this is not Persian style mysticism, then what is it?  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Introduction to Lacan

I started another round of my studies in psychoanalysis about two months ago. These past few days, I am reading a collection of papers on the connection between the two of the most important psychoanalysts after Freud, Lacan (French) and Winnicott (British): ``Between Winnicott and Lacan: A Clinical Engagement,'' Edited by Lewis A Kirshner. A quote from ``Chapter 4: Vicissitudes of Real'' by Mardy Ireland:
What is real for Lacan can be defined as what resists the grasp of the symbol and cannot be circumscribed by language. The Real suggests the realm of the impossible or impossible to conceive, of which death is a paradigmatic example. Lacan's (1958) somewhat cryptic statement of what it means to be human---``Life has only one meaning, that in which desire is borne by death'' (p. 277)---suggests that to be truly human is to welcome the gain of desire and to accept the loss inherent in being a symbolic subject. It is because of such subjection that we are the only creatures with consciousness of our impending death. Each person is given calibrated degrees of freedom to pursue their desire and shape a singular life and death through the gift of language. The Winnicottian caveat to Lacan is that to creatively sustain desire in the face of impending death requires individuals first to establish a psychic place in which they feel real. Lacking this, there is only potential psychic catastrophe in every experiences gap in the self---something against which the subject must strenuously defend. This crucial issue returns us to Lacan's introductory quote---``The umbilicus of a treatment is the question of desire and how it is trapped in its birth or its movement'' (1954, p.167). ---p. 67, Between Winnicott and Lacan

Here are some quotes that I wrote in the last week of my employment at the GSU. I was about to return all books back to GSU library that same day (May 16, 2013 probably).

The first set is taken from ``Chapter 1: The Trauma of Language'' by Lucie Cantin, of the book, ``After Lacan: Clinical Practice and the Subject of the Unconscious,'' written by Willy ApollonDanielle Bergeron, and Lucie Cantin, and edited and with an introduction by Robert Hughes and Kareen Ror Malone.

Human beings are living creatures capable of speech and, as such, have been exiled from the animal kingdom regulated by the logic of the natural satisfaction of needs. ... Language has transformed us into beings subject to a logic that is other than biological or natural logic. Lacan described as ``real jouissance'' such unmediated satisfaction as is sought by the animal who pounces on its very prey out of hunger or follows the rhythms of its mating instinct. ---p. 35

Human beings speak and language has certain effects---perhaps most significantly, the body. Only humans have bodies. ... Animals, by contrast, have an organism, a biological machine regulated by needs that must be satisfied. ... The body is contrasted from the organism insofar as it is a body that is spoken of, ... carved up and made visible by language. ... Hence, the body is a series of pieces that no longer function according to the organic logic of the organism, that are marked by the Other, by language. ... ---p. 36

Thus, the human subject is a creature of language. For humans, the most natural events, such as birth and death, are wholly caught up in the symbolic web created by language. Human beings have reasons to live and to die. At birth, one is already linked to the realm of symbols and words that define one's future destiny. Long before conception, one is born as a subject, subjected to the discourse and the desire that resulted in one's conception and birth. One is born of a parental desire, which often predates one's birth by many years, and which may even date back to the desires of the parent's own childhood, now buried in the unconscious, of the little girl, for example, playing with her doll twenty or thirty years before becoming a mother. ... Bound to the unsatisfied desires of parents, to their fantasies and to the expectations built up through past generations, the child is born as a subject by this very capture into signifiers coming from Other. ... ---p. 37

A certain number of satisfactions are inaccessible to a being capable of speech. As Lacan would say, language makes impossible real jouissance, or jouissance of the need. In Civilizations and its Discontents, Freud had already remarked that civilization not only forces human beings to give up instinctual satisfaction in the name of a cultural ideal, but also substitutes for instinctual satisfactions various other satisfactions which are mediated, partial, and delayed. What Freud attributes to the renunciations inherent to civilization is understood by Lacan as an effect of language. The symbolic world of myths, beliefs, laws, moral and human values---which form the very tissues of civilization---is created through language.
A need aims at its satisfaction by searching for a specific and adequate object. Satisfaction implies a total appropriateness of the object; satisfaction is by definition complete. The originary capture of human being in language diverts the subject from that form of satisfaction. ... Culture imposes rules and behaviors; it dictates the framework, the places, the times, and the objects from which it is acceptable to gain satisfaction. ...
But the child is not directly confronted with the lack of satisfaction imposed by language. Rather, the child encounters parental demand which are in turn related to the prescriptions of culture. ... Only with adolescence will the subject face that which is beyond the arbitrary Oedipal and cultural prohibitions in all their forms by encountering that which is impossible to any human being. The subject's own desire as a subject will then become the way to claim a relationship to the lack of satisfaction, as it results from the human condition, and not just from some seemingly arbitrary parental or cultural prohibition.
... It is that lack, which is inherent to the ability to speak, that creates desire ... there is desire because there is something impossible. ... ---pp. 39--40

Freud insists on the fact that the child accepts the loss imposed by civilization only out of fear of losing the love on which the child depends for survival. At birth, one is in a state of total dependence, at the mercy of the other for the satisfaction of primary needs. ...
The law of father is what represents, for the child, the law of culture ...
... Thus, the father is purely a signifier. He is a metaphor; for the child, he represents the signifier of cultural law, the signifier of the effects of language on human beings.
... In addition, the parent introduces something other than the cultural requirement. With or without knowing it, what the parent demands from the child is fraught with the dissatisfactions that have marked the parent's own life. Such demands carry unconscious and unsatisfied desires from past generations ...
the parental demand addressed to the child in the name of culture always carries some surplus meaning. It represents a lack other than that which is imposed by culture, a parental lack, which manifests itself as such to child. ... This could be expressed as a question: ``What does the Other want out of me?'' or ``What jouissane would my mother have if I become this or that?''
... The question ... is: How far will this demand go? To what extent will the subject devote a lifetime to responding to the demand of the parent or to the demand of anyone who would occupy that place during the course of a lifetime? ...
Each culture has its ways to represent the impossibility of total jouissance. The signifier of the Law ... is represented by the father and serves to link up the child with the lack inherent to human nature. As for the signifier introduced by the Other's demand, it rather refers to the imaginary of a possible jouissance, that the Other requires. ... The imaginary of a possible jouisssance, as it is claimed by the Other, blocks any possibility for the subject to claim the lack in being as something that results from the linkage to language. From that, one can see how important it is that the parent---in this case the mother, since she is in a position where she can refuse to give a father to her child---has assumed the impossibility of jouissance and, accordingly, that she does not expect from a husband or from her child the satisfaction of her unfulfilled desires. ---pp. 40--43, After Lacan
The last quote is from the Stein's Book, ``Partners in Thought,'' and kind of expands on the theme of `psychic catastrophe' in the very first quote:
The least fortunate people, whose personalities are most rigid, because they must protect themselves from the experience of the uncanny, from the eruption of not-me at bay, tolerate relationships that feel continuously dead and boring or hateful and destructive. The more urgent the need to isolate one's own not-me in the other, the more hateful and intensely sadistic the enactment necessary to accomplish the task. All enactments, especially those of not-me but even including bad-me, are adversarial; but it is much more likely, in enactments that protect one from having to bear the unbearable, for the relatedness to degenerate into violence, phsycial or emotional. There is no reason to hold back when the consequences of the enactment's failure (i.e., when a particularly virulent not-me threatens to come home to roost) are worse than any outcome of the interpersonalization of the dissociation. The dread of not-me can be compelling enough to lead to murder, sometimes of a virtual stranger, sometimes of a spouse or other family member, as Stein (2006) shows in a case culled from Federal Bureau of Investigation files of violent crime.  Fonagy and his collaborators (2002) describe patients, incapable of mentalization, who are reduced to protecting themselves from an outer world that, because the patient operates in the mode of psychic equivalence, seem as literally dangerous as their inner world of fantasy. ---p. 156, Partners in Thought

Freedom, Religion

A couple of days ago I read a discussion between some friends regarding religion, worship, freedom, and slavery. In Farsi and Arabic, the t...