Distribution Automatique

Friday, March 12

The best psychoanalytic book I've read
in a long time: *The Shadow Of The Object*
by Christopher Bollas includes a discussion
of a syndrome he calls "normotic" where the
child's subjectivity is so sparsely responded
to by the parents or caretakers
that the person becomes excessively
preoccupied and overly connected with the material
non-human) environment. These
speculations are very rich in political/psychoanalytic
implications. Too busy packing right now
to write very much more, but here's a little

"When Winnicott wrote that 'it is creative
apperception more than anything else that
makes the individual feel that life is worth
living' (1971, p. 71), he was aware that
psychoanalysis focuses on those disturbances
in human subjectivity that make creative
living difficult. As if to gesture towards a different
pathway of disturbance, he suggested another
axis of illness.

'People may be leading satisfactory lives
and may do work that is even of exceptional
value and yet may be schizoid or schizophrenic.
They may be ill in a psychiatric sense because
of a weak reality sense. To balance this one would
have to state that there are others who are so
firmly anchored in objectively perceived reality
that they are ill in the opposite direction of being
out of touch with the subjective world and
with the creative approach to fact.' (1971, p.70)....

I believe that we are witness to the emergence of a new
emphasis within personal illness or we are just getting
around to perceiving an element in personality that has
always been with us. This element is a particular drive
to be normal, one that is typified by the numbing and
eventual erasure of subjectivity in favour of a self that
is conceived as a material object among other man-made
products in the object world....
A normotic person is someone who is abnormally normal. He
is too stable, secure, comfortable and socially extrovert. He
is fundamentally disinterested in subjective life and he is
inclined to reflect on the thingness of objects, on their
material reality, or on 'data' that relates to material phenomena....
We may speak of a common normotic element when we
identify any mental activity that constitutes a transfer
of a subjective state of mind into a material external object
that results in the de-symbolization of the mental content....
Such a person is alive in a world of meaningless plenty."

from *The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis
of the Unthought Known* by Christopher Bollas
NY, Columbia University Press, 1987 (p. 135-137)