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Mourning, Spirituality and Psychic Change:
A New Object Relations View of Psychoanalysis”
In her earlier books, Dr. Kavaler-Adler identified healthy mourning for traumas and life changes as an essential aspect of successful analysis, and drew the distinction between a healthy acceptance of mourning as part of development and pathological mourning, which 'fixes' a patient at an unhealthy stage of development. Mourning, Spirituality and Psychic Change brings such distinctions into the consulting room, exploring how a successful analyst can help patients to utilize mourning for past troubles to move them forward to a lasting change for the better, emotionally, psychically and erotically. The author also tackles the controversial issue of spirituality in psychoanalysis, and explores how psychoanalysis can help patients come to terms with difficult issues in a time of great psychic and spiritual disturbance. These themes are brought to life via richly detailed case studies.
Table of Contents: A New Metapsychology for Clinical Phenomenology and Psychic Health, A Phenomenological Theory of Developmental Mourning. Mourning as Explicit and Implicit in Psychoanalytic Theory: Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, and Ronald Fairbairn. Mourning as Implicit and Explicit in Psychoanalytic Theory: John Bowlby, Michael Balint, and D.W. Winnicott. The Case of June: Finding a New Identity through the Mourning of Traumatic Loss and Guilt, Primal Rage, and Poignant Regret. The Case of June, Part I: A Mournful and Spiritual Journey: Spiritual and Sexual Evolution. June's Evolution in Later Years of Treatment: Transformation through Mourning in Developmental, Transference, and Life Change Terms. Seven Generations of Grief: The Case of Phillip. The Case of Phillip, Part II: The Spiritual Evolution. The Case of Laura: Mourning as the Poetry of Female Eroticism: Homoerotic Evolutions of a Lesbian Woman within Developmental Mourning. The Case of Laura, Part III: Strands and Cycles of Mourning and Unrequited Love: Modes of Mourning. Mourning and Creativity: A Journey through a Male Artist's Development. The Divine, the Deviant and the Diabolical: A Journey through a Female Artist's Paintings During Her Participation in a Creative Process Group: An Evolution of Developmental Mourning (previously published in the International Forum of Psychoanalysis).
The Creative Mystique:
From Red Shoes Frenzy to Love and Creativity
Through the life stories of women such as Camille Claudel, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Anne Sexton, and Susan Farrell, and clinical case studies, Susan Kavaler-Adler offers penetrating insights into the nature of the creative process. Kavaler-Adler contrasts unsuccessful psychological treatments with object-relations therapy which is able to resolve the pathological narcissism of creative addiction and allow the emergence of healthy modes of self-expression.
Why does the woman possessed by an internal demon lover dance the frenetic dance of the Red Shoes? Can one emerge from the dark side of creativity?
The Creative Mystique maintains the fascination and profundity of the author's earlier work. Dr. Kavaler-Adler has uniquely integrated the "Otherness" of the creative process with the chimerical male figure in the female artist's internal mental world to create the concept of the "demon lover." The author spans the horizon of the Kleinian, Object Relations, and Developmental literature, on one hand, and the artistic/literary biographical literature on the other. The effect is compelling and riveting." James S. Grotstein, MD
"...an amalgam of the theoretical and clinical brilliance brought to life through the medium of the psycho-biography. For the clinician it is a lodestone of clinical wisdom, of intuitive genius brought to bear on the treatment situation...For the aficionado of biography, it should entrance the reader with new windows into the characters of the subjects, and bring to the reader a new way to approach biography in general...For anyone intrigued with the human character in general, this book will be a most satisfactory read. Althea Horner, Ph.D.
The Compulsion to Create:
Women Writers and Their Demon Lovers
(OtherPress, 2000; Routledge, 1993)
"The Compulsion to Create is a superb account of distinguished female writers [Plath, Nin, the Brontæs, Dickinson, and Sitwell] from a psychoanalytic object relations perspective. The artists discussed often suffered tragic fates including suicide, fatal illness, lifelong withdrawal from people, or alienation from the world. At this current time in the American psychoanalytic dialogue, there is a tendency to idealize the creative process and to discuss it only in terms of 'healthy narcissism.' While presenting a sympathetic and respectful attitude toward the creative process, Kavaler-Adler nevertheless does not idealize it and is forthright in discussing the problems the artist may encounter." - Jeffrey Seinfeld, Ph.D.
"This book can be highly recommended as an introduction to the clinical applications of current object relations theory from the perspective of both its dynamic and developmental viewpoints, as well as its application to the analysis of fine, enduring literature of female authors, and the unconscious mechanisms that underlie it. It is a rich and often moving account of how the capacity for attempts at self-repair find their expression in artistic endeavors that provide the artist with a personal medium for creative psychic survival, while contributing to the general enrichment of culture by means of such aesthetic experiences." -- Mark Wayne, C.S.W., B.C.D., American Journal of Psychoanalysis.
Book review from www.Amazon.com:
Books pending new editions...
Why are The Compulsion to Create : Women Writers and Their Demon Lovers ,
and The Creative Mystique: From Red Shoes Frenzy to Love and Creativity -
the books for today’s world and today’s theory?
Michael Jackson’s life and Michael Jackson’s death together present a case in point as to why the artist, no matter how successful, is in danger of self destruction or self endangerment if he believes he is OK without psychological treatment--even when he or she is in a vulnerable state without the mourning of a life time of loss and trauma. ... For centuries artists and writers have been plagued by the fallacious shibboleths they believed as axioms, i.e. that you have to be crazy to be an artist and that if this superstition is true then so is it’s caveat that you can’t go into real psychotherapeutic treatment (where the unconscious is dealt with) because that treatment will threaten to “resolve” the craziness of the artist... How many writers and artists have died either slow or quick deaths from these two fundamental false beliefs: that you have to be crazy to be an artist, and that if so then you can’t go into psychotherapeutic treatment, since such treatment would seriously challenge the artist’s character pathology and the sources of the pathology in early childhood (often stemming back to two years old)?
This question leads to an in-depth exploration in Dr. Susan Kavaler-Adler’s two books on brilliant and tortured female artists and writers: The Compulsion to Create: Women Writers and Their Demon Lovers and The Creative Mystique: From Red Shoes Frenzy to Love and Creativity. These books were originally published by the international and professional press, Routledge, in both England and America, in 1993 and 1996 respectively. They are now being reprinted by the Object Relations Institute Press in 2011, so that wider audiences can benefit from these rich and complex studies on well known women artists and writers.
Dr. Kavaler-Adler not only de-constructs these common but false beliefs, as well as de-mystifying the creative artist, often a genius, but she also looks at writers and artists who were able to do the necessary psychological and emotional work of grieving so as to resolve powerful losses and disappointments in their lives through their own creative process. She asks and answers the question as to what makes these writers and artists different from those who would have needed psychoanalytic object relations treatment to have been able to mourn and heal themselves. She illustrates through detailed biographical descriptions, and through the work of the writer or artist, how early child-mother and child-father relations can largely explain why any one artist, or person, can be capable of mourning and self-integrating in their work and why others cannot, and would need psychoanalytic object relations psychotherapy to develop the capacities for a critical “developmental mourning process.”
Well known artists, such as Suzanne Farrell, formerly with the New York City ballet, and with George Ballanchine, and the British author Charlotte Bronte, as well as Anais Nin, are seen to contrast with such writers as Emily Bronte, Emily Dickinson, Edith Sitwell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Virginia Woolf, Camille Claudel, Diane Arbus, and Katherine Mansfield along these dimensions.
The subject of self integration, and the overlapping developmental terrain of separation-individuation in such artists leads into a discussion in The Compulsion to Create and The Creative Mystique of what is psychological health. In The Creative Mystique. Dr. Kavaler-Adler describes her own theory of psychological health in terms of a “Love-Creativity Dialectic” that relates to the developmental ability for psychic dialectic in general, such as being able to perceive situations from both one’s own and another’s point of view at the same time. For those who live with early disruptions in psychological development that result in the splitting off and sealing off of core parts of the self (perpetuating pathological levels of dissociation), psychic dialectic is distorted or impeded altogether. This can result in a failure in intimate relationships and/or in sustained or emotionally developed (in-depth, mutual and empathic) creative work. On the other hand, those who have been lucky enough to have at least three to five primary years of “good enough mothering” (D.W. Winnicott’s term, 1964), in which their childhood mother’s (parents) have managed to sustain responsive awareness of their subjective experience and subjective emotional needs will be candidates for meeting a criteria for psychological health in which love and creativity are both experienced in depth and in a free flowing organic form of motivation. This allows one to alternate freely between a focus on connecting to one’s inner life for creative inspiration and for the creative process and on one’s external life relationships for interpersonal nurturance and intimacy.
For over two decades now, psychoanalytic theory has been influenced by theorists who drawn inspiration from philosophical traditions of dialectic stemming back to the German philosopher, Hegel. These theorists, called “Intersubjectivists,” have influenced psychoanalysis under the rubrics of Self Psychology, Relational Theory, Interpersonal Theory and Object Relations Theory, as well as neo Kleinians that have expanded the original theoretical range of critical clinical concept of “projective-identification.” In the more academic tradition of developmental research, Attachment Theory has also shown such influences. Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s wide scope of theoretical, biographical, artistic, developmental, and clinical knowledge in The Compulsion to Create and The Creative Mystique helps readers elucidate their comprehension of intersubjective theory through the vivid narrative tales of well known writers and artists.
In these books, as well, Dr. Kavaler-Adler illustrates how those artists who fail to achieve psychic dialectic, love-creativity dialectic, and intersubjectivity are mired in the fall out of developmental disruption and derailment. Such developmental arrest changes a potential healthy life long connection process-which would require the capacity to mourn loss, separation, death, and disappointment to repair disrupted connection-are stuck in a pathological and frozen state in which mourning is not possible. In this “pathological mourning” state early traumatic disruptions are repeated perpetually as sadomasochistic enactments that constitute a “Demon Lover Complex” when the aggressive reactions to maternal failings are both split off and projected into masculine figures due to oedipal eroticization in pre-oedipal psychic structures, compounding the failings of mothering with the failures and losses related to fathering. As Dr. Jeffrey Seinfeld has said in an early review of Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s 1993 book, The Compulsion to Create, Dr. Kavaler-Adler is making a major contribution to psychoanalysis and object relations theory by focusing in a profound and in-depth way on the father in her biographical tales of women artists and writers, rather than limiting herself to the mother’s influence as all the Kleinian and object relations theorists in the past have tended to do.
Among Dr. Susan Kavaler-Adler’s many journal articles on the demon lover complex is the recent one, which appeared this June in the American Journal of Psychoanalysis 69 (2), 150-166, entitled “Object Relations Perspectives on `Phantom of the Opera’ and its Demon Lover Theme: The Modern Film.”
Given that Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s scholarly study of women writers and artists in these two books underlines the critical role of mourning and the capacity to mourn in psychic health, creativity, and interpersonal love and intimacy, it is only fitting that her next Routledge book was a major book on mourning as a critical clinical and developmental process. Her book, Mourning, Spirituality and Psychic Change: A New Object Relations View of Psychoanalysis came out through Routledge in London in 2003 and was awarded the National Gradiva Award in 2004 by the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis. In this book, Dr. Kavaler-Adler writes theoretical chapters about the developmental nature and process of mourning, also showing how mourning is either implicit or explicit in psychoanalytic theory from the time of Freud, through Melanie Klein, Ronald Fairbairn, D.W. Winnicott, Michael Balint, and John Bowlby, with frequent references to Margaret Mahler, Wilfred Bion, Betty Joseph, Thomas Ogden, James Masterson, Hanna Segal etc. However, this theory is significantly complemented by having more than half the book consist of in-depth clinical cases that also, within themselves, have profound theoretical explication. Dr. Kavaler-Adler is a theoretical historian of some note, but her theoretical understanding, and her challenging and questioning of certain key metapsychological issues never stands only in its own area of abstraction. Dr. Kavaler-Adler is first and primarily a clinician who has worked steadfastly for 35 years with patients in object relations psychoanalysis and in object relations psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Every theoretical statement she makes has a pointed clinical purpose. For in the last analysis, Dr. Kavaler-Adler sees the studies she shares with her readers, whether of a psychobiographical or clinical nature, as a mirror into the day to day clinical activity of those spending a life time serving others in the consulting room, others that they come to know in a psychological and intimate depth that can only occur in the consulting room.
Books pending publication at Karnac:
The Anatomy of Regret
- will provide clinical illustrations of how the conscious processing of regret through a developmental mourning process can create critical turning points towards character change and psychological health in terms of the “Love-Creativity Dialectic.”
- will serve as a clinical textbook of case material that demonstrates the complementary use of the theoretical concepts of Melanie Klein (and her followers) and D. W. Winnicott. Psychobiographic material on the British theorist Melanie Klein is also included here. This material illustrates how the internalization of Klein's relationship with her mother seems to have influenced her to cling to the metapsychological aspect of her theory as a “death instinct,” even though this "death instinct" theory is not necessary to seriously employ her brilliant clinical theory. Melanie Klein's clinical theory include the understanding of the paranoid schizoid and depressive positions, which involve developmental movements towards symbolization through self integration - in those formerly stuck in modes of protosymbolic enactment.
***Over 35 years Experience in Psychoanalytic/ Psychodynamic/ Object Relations Psychotherapy with Individuals, Couples, and Groups, while utilizing unique approaches to working with: ***Depression, ***Anxiety & Fears, ***OCD, ***Loss, Grief, & Mourning, ***Self-Sabotage/ Abandonment & Separation, ***Guilt & Shame, ***Trauma & PTSD, ***Relationship & Betrayal Issues, ***Divorce/ Domestic Abuse & Violence, ***Dissociative Disorders, ***Elderly Persons Disorders, ***Gay Lesbian Issues, ***Parenting issues, ***Blocked Creativity, ***Spirituality, ***Personality Disorders & Borderline Personality. ***Supportive therapeutic groups: Self-Sabotage, Fear of Success, & Fear of Envy; Developmental Mourning; and Creative Healing Writing. *** Group supervision for Mental Health practitioners: Utilizing the Object Relations approach in therapy, and Envy issues in personal and professional life of therapists.***Additional modalities utilized: Guided Psychic Visualization, Creative Writing, Life Coaching, and Dance Therapy.
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2000 Dr. Susan Kavaler-Adler * All Rights Reserved.
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