p { margin-bottom: 0.25cm; line-height: 115%; }Pleasure and psychosomatic


Love, as much as we can define it, is the ability to access a specific pleasure, superior of the individual pleasure which can be obtained together. Therefore, it is an altruistic amplification of the capacity of pleasure. This is what isn't an illusion, what isn't a fantasy. Going through the other is then a strength, a possibility to duplicate the mind and body's capacity of pleasure and joy. Ethology is in agreement with human psychology in the altruism field often studied within animals as an adaptive advantage. This importance of the other's pleasure in psychological structures is even more easily understood when we look at the early childhood. If Spitz described smiling as a psychological organizer it is because it shows delight as a sign and as a pleasure. It is clear that in psychosomatic illnesses the malfunction of the sign is prominent.


Actually, the psychosomatic illness corresponds to organ or functions sidetracked from the direction of pleasure in which the body and the desire are intertwined within the human being. The body's pleasure, the relationship's pleasure, the thoughts' pleasure are linked with the pleasure of language in an imaginary authority creating all of the being's symbolic apprehensions, giving it in a way its color, music, its fundamental affect, creating its acceptance of the world and so the evolution of its identity. What Pierre Marty called the operating thought that seems to not need any fantasy to function is in fact a thought without pleasure as the search for pleasure is the basis for fantasy.


Failing that, to be satisfied the body will fall back on needs and care which brings back to the spotlight the part of the self that wasn't sufficiently written in the primordial Other, wasn't heard or even pushed back. But the care the body brings to itself isn't satisfying enough at all when it comes to a certain amount of urges and bodily needs linked to the other, including the sexual urge. Being only able to find it at the end of the narcissistic development in a function of fully gifting oneself to the other, we understand that in this kind of pathology its development is prevented, brought to another body that cannot make itself be forgotten solely because of its suffering. Suffering, for the psychosomatic trait, has a double meaning of being in pain and waiting, never succeeding.


Between self-preservation (one for oneself) and narcissism (oneself for the other) is situated the psychosomatic question, not as simply non-translated residues from one language to another, from one level to another like is seen in neurotic disorders but as a biological function's trouble due to a deficit in pleasure within relationships that prevents the physical or psychological organ to fully find its otherness capacity and so keeps it from entering the field of the significant. It is an attack on the subject's capacity of development and structure that normally goes through the other's pleasure which makes those organs and functions suffer. Without pleasure there is no bodily integration to the other's field. We are in a level preceding the symbol and that influences it.


Psychosomatic suffering affects an organ that can execute its function of altruistic pleasure therefore being a part of the self that feels like an outsider to oneself. Are concerned not only feelings, intuitions or external censorial stimuli but literally entire organs. Those altered physical organs then send back a message to the psychological organs which are called insistence in psychoanalysis. For example the ideal of the self, the mood, humor, etc. The capacity of independent thinking with enough pleasure is more or less lacking in most psychosomatic thoughts for lack of conscious means of thinking itself, having difficulties with the subject's corporeal identity as it is established within the ambivalence. For example a number of clinical stories about colic problems go back to strong memories about learning continence, the physical suffering coming here from an important thinning out of the pleasure of exchanging with the other. Understanding this idea of intimate relation between the body and the mind allows to link the organs and physical functions to the psychological ones in a constitutive metaphor of the being. Freud's stages (oral, anal and genital) show well this genetic link between the body and the mind. The significant lacanian independence has to come after...


Freud has established pleasure as the equivalent of a voltage drop, being back to a non-existent state of energy levels that doesn't fully match reality. Indeed, there is another form of please that, with the progress of thermodynamics, can be thought in terms of energy, of a minimal energy level needed for a system to work. Which simply means that a pleasure of the body exists within its own function. Among others this is a reason for the love of sports: it is the celebration of the working body...


It is when this pleasure can't fit in with the conscious image of the body, in the unconscious image (Dolto) or in narcissism that it becomes suffering as long as there's no other options apart from pleasure and suffering. Or the only other option at this moment is death. As long as we are in the field of life strength and energy represent either pleasure or suffering. In this, neutrality doesn't exist.


Therefore the reality principle dear to Freud isn't neutral at all and is either on the side of pleasure or on the side of suffering. To understand it we can use the example of a fish in a river's current: it can either deploy a considerable amount of energy that allows it to go against it, to choose its direction and it then finds itself in the pleasure, in its choice; or it is carried away by the current's external force, unable to define its own movements anymore for whatever reason: it is therefore tossed around by the external forces constricting it independently from what it desires. It is obviously in suffering and displeasure.


Human life is therefore linked to a phenomenon of a flow of information, variations in the passing time. To be continuously and serenely neutral we would without a doubt need to be a stone in the mineral world. And again, this stone is probably only mineral in our time, not in geological time.


Therefore, neutrality isn't possible and the flow of time, of life and of changing events leads us to pleasure or displeasure following the balance between or internal goals and the external movements. Here it is necessary to define a specific external function, the unconscious, that has the specificity of being both an internal and external function of the urge, meaning it is an interface working as a copula, a functional object, a joint. Seen from the other's side, this copula is called the transfer and see from the subject side it is the unconscious. If this transitive, translator structure is lacking in a part or in the whole body and its capacity of pleasure and this one lives in suffering, unable to live within the human pleasure.


Of course such exclusions from the field of language only come following peer pressure, most often unconscious but nonetheless toxic and violent for the subject at it keeps them more or less from themselves and so from their life in the acceptance of this Other than only allows them a part of themselves. Let's Proust demonstrate, between love and poison:


"I sold a good part of the furniture and a sumptuous antique silverware collection from my aunt Léonie despite the opposite opinion of my parents to dispose of more money to send more flowers to Mrs Swann who, receiving massive baskets of orchids, told me: "If I was mister you father I would have given you a legal advice." How could I imagine that one day I would especially regret this silverware and put some joys on top of the one that could become entirely void to be courteous to Gilberte's parents? It was in sight of Gilberte and to not leave her that I hadn't entered the embassy. It is only because of a mental state that isn't made to last that we make definitive choices. I could barely imagine that this strange substance that resided in Giberte, that shined in her parents and in her home making me indifferent to everything else, that this substance could be freed, moving on to another being. Really the same substance yet it could have other effects on me. Because the same sickness evolves; and a delicious poison isn't tolerated anymore when, with the years, the heart's resistance diminished."


In practice, let's see some consequences on the use of transfer in this clinic.


The imaginary authority of the Other, the Other's place


There are some moment in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis when the question isn't about interpretation. Indeed, some therapeutic circumstances exist where it is about having the Other within oneself, consciously or not. The container takes precedence over the content.


The way those processes will unraveled isn't explain by the usual psychoanalytic theories. However, psychosomatic illnesses constantly revolve around this question which explains in part the difficulty encountered by therapists. Indeed, without a good theory of the whole imaginary axis of transfer it is difficult to pinpoint what is happening and to be the least efficient...


Of course, Jacques Lacan's developments on the great Other's concept, on the axis i(a) i'(a) and on the mirror's stage before that do more than introduce us to this dimension. However, in his following lessons, Lacan warns about getting stuck, which could happen if the therapist gets caught in it. The critics he makes about the psychology of American ego and the developments made are partially based on that, implying the partial identification of the patient's self to the therapist's self. In other moments Lacan could excoriate the idea of unconscious to unconscious communication or often repeat from seminary to seminary that there is no meta-communication that exists.


However Françoise Dolto's movement and the entirety of the psycho therapeutic techniques including the body and its affection found themselves getting away from lacanian movements. The lacanian movement itself got engaged in a marginalized and sometimes cult-like evolution revolving around a somewhat endless intellectual corpus, therefore being non-refutable. The lacanian text has too often become sacred... The lacanian axiomatic has, for some, taken the role of myth.


As a disclaimer about Lacan's view, it is important to say that this is an inflammatory subject as the whole suggestive field in analysis, the evolution of certain characters' influence as gurus and financial frauds are possible consequences of the fruitless or dishonest use of this imaginary axis.


Of course, the existence that I theorize of an imaginary dimension constantly behind every symbolic dimensions put the therapist's honesty in the forefront. Unlike Lacan, I don't think this dimension could be fully reduced or gone through. Of course, the consistency of its persistence can hugely help in certain moment within some patient's therapy.


We can noticed different group of therapists from this point of view. Some, like Freud or Lacan, will in a way function more within the symbolic field while others like Winnicot, Mélanie Klein, Françoise Dolto, Gisèla Pankow or even Bruno Bettelheim will use the imaginary form's range. Some use for this concept the term of maternal transfer. Instead of staying on one side or the other of those trends it seems more useful to navigate between both fields.


Exploring this imaginary dimension of the transfer allows to pinpoint an imaginary form of the Other in the self which will become the cradle for all symbolic development. It is this body that falls within autism or melancholia and is simply affected in the psychosomatic structure.


The unending or overly-attached transfers coming from the fact that the therapist doesn't take into account are what will come to the forefront of our work and what we shouldn't be afraid of. When the patient's narcissism has healed enough within this imaginary axis that is the transfer, where the pleasure to be and work together has taken the central place we were talking about, the subject is ready to move on to something better than the far from ideal way of life that is therapy...