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Revista de Psiquiatria do Rio Grande do Sul

Print version ISSN 0101-8108

Rev. psiquiatr. Rio Gd. Sul vol.27 no.1 Porto Alegre Jan./Apr. 2005 



Analytical process and historicisation in the cultural immediatism: contributions to contemporary psychoanalysis


Proceso analítico e historización en la inmediatez de la cultura aportes para un psicoanálisis contemporáneo



Norberto C. Marucco

Member of the International Psychoanalytical Association and Member of the Psychoanalytical Argentinean Association





This article describes the relationships between psychoanalysis and culture, most precisely the trend to immediatism that the current culture has been posing against the idea of process. May psychoanalysis be separated from culture, as a result of today's cultural demands related to time and money, and time and efficacy? And, if it does separate, would not this be fostering the development of alternative therapies? The author believes the current crisis psychoanalysis is going through has to do with its difficulties and attempts to comprehend the cultural effects of a consumerist society that abolished the value of words and does not have time to think about others nor about itself. Psychoanalysis must be rethought, not only in terms of the notion of process but also on what the author named as analytical act. He reflects on the analyzed patient and on the analyst, and makes metapsychological and technical considerations about the concept of analytical act, together with the idea of process. As for analyzed patients, the author believes they do not fulfill the classical expectations of the psychoanalysis technique; and in what concerns the analytical act, he thinks it is possible that the continuation of analytical acts becomes an analytical process: when an analytical act leads to the disclosure of a fake connection, the correction of a displacement between time and the subject will stimulate the interest of the patient's on his or her own psychic behavior. The problem the current culture poses against the analytical cure is defined in one essential point: psychoanalysis should build a wide framework so that the transforming power of instinct is able to find its representation.

Keywords: Psychoanalysis, culture, historicisation, analytical process.


El autor describe las relaciones entre el psicoanálisis y la cultura, más precisamente la tendencia a la inmediatez que la cultura actual instala frente a la idea de proceso. Frente a las exigencias provenientes desde la cultura (tiempo y dinero, tiempo y eficacia), ¿puede el psicoanálisis desentenderse de ella? Y, si lo hace, ¿no estará así ayudando a generar a las terapias alternativas? Cree que la nueva crisis por la que atraviesa actualmente el psicoanálisis obedece a las dificultades e intentos de dar cuenta de los efectos de la cultura, en una sociedad consumista que ha abolido el valor de la palabra y ya no tiene tiempo para pensar ni para pensarse. Para tanto, el autor cree que es necesario repensar el psicoanálisis, no sólo en torno a la noción de proceso sino también de lo que él denominó acto analítico. Hace reflexiones sobre el analizando y el analista de hoy y también hace consideraciones metapsicológicas y técnicas referidas al concepto de acto analítico, junto a la idea de proceso. Respeto al primero aspecto, el autor cree que el analizando de hoy no "cumple" con las expectativas clásicas de la técnica. Cuanto al segundo, piensa que sea posible que la continuidad de estos actos analíticos se transforme en un proceso analítico: cuando un acto analítico posibilita el descubrimiento de un falso enlace, la corrección de un desplazamiento temporal y de persona, estará estimulando, en el sujeto que padece, el interés acerca de su propio funcionamiento psíquico. Concluye diciendo que el problema de la cura analítica en relación con las exigencias de la cultura actual se define en un punto esencial: el psicoanálisis debe montar un encuadre lo suficientemente amplio como para que la fuerza transformadora de la pulsión encuentre su representación.

Palabras clave: Psicoanálisis, cultura, historización, proceso analítico.




The relationship between psychoanalysis and culture is a matter of high concern to psychoanalysis and it requires a revision in the light of analytical theory and practice -including the technical resources lately developed (I still think1 that the major progresses for the future of psychoanalysis are hidden in the secrets of the technique). The tendency to "the instantaneous" that culture has been posing against the idea of process draws our attention to the need for a review of this concept in psychoanalysis. In the present article, we will approach the theme in two units:

1) The problematics of psychoanalysis and culture;
2) Reflections on the concept of analytical process and history, including the notion of analytic act.



First, I believe that when we refer to the psychoanalytic concepts of process and historization in their confrontation with today's culture tendency to "the instantaneous", we can see that their relationship is of a problematic nature. This confrontations keep true, expressed in terms of the analytic cure vs. present-day cultural ideals.

When Freud2 described the relations between the ego and other instances in The ego and the id, defining them as servitudes or vassalages, he made such an inclusion whose transcendence to metapsychology and psychoanalytical clinic have not found an equivalent development yet: the servitude of the ego in relation to the external reality, or, as we could say, of ego with relation to culture. In my point of view, this relation was not sufficiently explored, and it is a source for the contemporaneous development that psychoanalysis has been requiring.

After acknowledging the importance of culturally-originated demands - which manifest, for example, in today's imperative relations between time and money, time and efficacy or production - is it possible to dissociate psychoanalysis from culture? And, in so doing, would not psychoanalysis be contributing to the development of the so-called alternative therapies? But, if on the other hand psychoanalysis would try to fulfill this demand by adapting itself to cultural requirements, would not it be loosing its specificity at exactly those points that define it? Would the notion of process be one of the keys that determine psychoanalysis? Anyway, I consider crucial that psychoanalysis reformulates its theoretical problematic in what concerns culture, leveraging different research lines from it.*

We are not talking of renouncing the psychoanalysis we know, but of making its basis grow and develop. When psychoanalysis had to face the discovery or the acknowledgement of pathologies that overpassed the bounds of the classic neurosis, it had to undergo a deep theoretical crisis from which it emerged having the possibility to account for narcissistic and psychosomatic disorders, the problem of addictions, etc. Similarly, we could think that the new and current crisis of psychoanalysis (theoretical, under my point of view) results from the difficulties and attempts to put up with cultural effects, not only in the construction of subjectivity, I mean, psychism, but as a producer of different expressions of pathology. Thus, I ask myself whether it is possible to ignore these cultural effects by simply labeling them as the result of the postmodern negativism? Is it possible to put aside the criticism of a consumerist society that attempts to minimize the value of words and devotes no time to reflection and thinking, not even about itself? Or should we recognize that in this "cultural immediatism" not only analytical processes become problematic, but also, and very especially, new subjectivities are conformed, that, on their turn, determine the rules of the psychological functioning, which are certainly different from those of the beginning of the century?



"(...) In both cases, it was necessary to intervene in order to solve them. The patient had to be asked why he had made such a mistake and what he was able to say about it. Otherwise, the patient would have deviated from the issue after having started to clarify it without notice. However, when asked, he answered the first thing that came to his mind. Now, you see: that small intervention and its success are psychoanalysis already, and the paradigm of the entire psychoanalytic questioning that we must undertake in the future."3

The sentence "That small intervention and its success is psychoanalysis already" deserves the bold letters I introduced in this quotation. It is important again to think over our psychoanalytical theory and practice, not only in what refers to the notion of process, but also concerning the act, which I am inclined to name analytical act or analytical operation,1 defining it as psychoanalysis as well. This conception of analytic act does not intend to be opposed to the concept of analytical process and/or historicization, but to complement it.

In order to introduce the topic, I will make some introductory comments:

1) Some reflections about the patient and the analyst in today's analytical practice;
2) Metapsychological and technical considerations concerning the concept of analytical act and the idea of process.



It would not be possible to consider the problematic of the analytical process and historicization, as well as of the analytical act, if we do not consider that today's patient differs from Freud's time patients. Changes in the way of conceiving psychopathological problems are not enough to account for those differences; I rather find them in metapsychological ideas which are the ones in which a psychopathological comprehension may have theoretical support and meet clinical effectiveness. It is not the case of solely discussing the existence of new pathologies or not, or of old pathologies in a new fashion, I want to stress that metapsychological advance enabled the understanding of psychopathological traits, which for a long time had been left out of what were thought to be psychoanalysis limits. In this sense, I understand that the so called present-day pathologies call for a more powerful psychoanalysis, a product from today's analysts' theoretical improvement, based on the review of Freud's works and also on important post-Freudian contributions. Those advances in metapsychology are, thus, very important as they produce further progress in the formulations of a theory of the cure in psychoanalysis as also in the possibilities of reformulating technical resources. Of note, both concepts of analytical act and analytical process result from metapsychological developments.

The psychism of the patient who is analyzed today is expressed beyond representation, his anguishes exceed castration's anguishes (intrusion anguishes, emptiness, annihilation, etc)4 and the defensive behavior is not limited to repression (disavowal and ego splitting, etc.) These are the reasons why the patient escapes from the possibility of allowing the arousal, development and dissolution of transference as a neurosis of transference. Besides, we could say that in some psychopathologic expressions, the infantile and historic neurosis either does not exist or it is too weak to become a neurosis of transference. It is in this instance that the notion of analytical process and historicization starts to find a boundary, and the concept -and clinical fact- of the clinical act becomes a further option.

In other words: the "classical" neurosis gave rise to a notion of analytical cure in which the historical neurosis becomes present in the relationship with the analyst and the cure is produced once this transference neurosis can be dissolved. This notion of process and historicization was based on a metapsychological conception of the cure in which the analytical field is delimited according to the theory of representation and a setting in which the frequency of sessions, the rule of abstinence, the divan and neutrality are its basic pillars. However, we agree with Green when he says that the today's patient does not "fulfill" those expectations4 (Conference at the International Congress, London, 1975).

The new features of psychopathologic expressions demand new metapsychological developments that, on their turn, can provide for new technical resources. Then, the limitations that the clinic imposes to the concept and process of historicization makes the analytical act more necessary. Moreover, the concept of analytical act frequently appears in Freud's clinical histories.



Even though the conception of the analytical act has been explicitly or implicitly developed by a number of authors (Strachey, Lacan, Winnicott, Piera Aulagnier, Willy and Made Baranger, Jorge Mom) and in different contexts, I would like to give herein my personal opinion.

I approach the topic taking into consideration the phenomenon of transference in particular. When an individual starts to be analyzed (either in the analyst's consulting room, in a hospital or by means of healthcare plans) and the preliminary interviews take place, the patient starts to investigate the reason for a symptom. The associations are then made: the patient starts from the current situation, mentions significant moments of his/her life, maturity, adolescence, of some memories and also of traumatic situations from his/her childhood … "Close to the nucleus of the pathogenic complex," as said Freud,5,6 the dynamic of transference starts its intervention. Something of this pathogenic complex will undertake the form of transference, finding support on the personal characteristics of the analyst with the signs of resistance. Freud points out that due to the transference need and resistances of the psychic apparatus (neurosis) the patient uses transference as a privileged mask. The analyst has a clinical problem, a theoretical problem and a technical attitude to handle at this moment. Understanding that the only possible way is the neurosis of transfer, the concept of analytical process is the key for the analyst, and he will work on the establishment and development of transfer, up to the moment it is dissolved through interpretation. We could then say that we have a theory of cure that is well known, complete and idealized.

But the analyst has another choice: at the moment the transfer arises, with its dynamics, it will provoke an act, an analytical operation. And the false connection will be dissolved. The time and person transferred in the analysis and in the analyst as a person will return to the past, to the original person. What does this analytical intervention produce? We agree with Green:4 a "pre-conscious enlargement," or with Freud: that a piece of the life's puzzle finds its right place. In my opinion: the subject acquires new meaning for him/herself.

Could not those changes make us think that this intervention is, paraphrasing Freud, psychoanalysis and the paradigm of the entire psychoanalytic questioning? It is possible that the continuity of these acts become an analytical process. But, would this always be possible? And, moreover, would it be always necessary?

To be more precise: when an analytical act makes possible the discovery of a false connection, the correlation of a temporal and personal movement, will stimulate the patient's interest in his own psychic functioning, which is able to produce such phenomena and is likely to awake the patient for a positive transfer toward his own psychoanalytic questioning.

Maybe the analytical process, besides being determined by the technical variables that the analyst proposes, is generated by the impact that the analytical acts produce as a type of positive transfer towards the patient's analysis itself. That is my way of getting close to the definition of an analytical cure: a series of analytical acts end up building a process. In other words: we could say that there are demands in the analytical process that are set by psychopathology, which aggregate demands produced by culture, such as the problem of the economic crisis or reduction of the number of sessions, etc.

Which is the dilemma that today's analyst is faced to? If he/she keeps close to the concept of classical neurosis and of analytical process, he/she will most probably turn to do what is called "analytical psychotherapy" every time he finds that the notion of process has no applicability in a particular clinical situation.

If, on the other hand, he accepts the challenge of using available metapsychological advances to produce acts or 'analytical operations', he may create analytic processes of a different type. In the not yet conceptualized concepts of these analytical acts, and within the singularities of the analytical processes thereby created by them, there lies a potential for future developments in psychoanalysis.

About the psychoanalysis historicization we could say that if current psychoanalysis keeps attached to the limits of analyzability that are determined by the conditions of representation of the classic neuroses, what happens when we have to deal with pathological manifestations that come out from non-represented psychic zones? What happens when the pathology does not depend on some piece of history lost in childhood amnesia times? This is a paradox that is worth emphasizing. When there is no such history and no possible words to tell it, the installation of an analytical process is a basic condition for the creation of a "history." Which history would be constructed, then? That of a psychic functioning that is beyond the principle of pleasure, and is a consequence of those "unmanageable mnemonic traces" (as I call them)1,7 or those "primordial life experiences," as mentioned by Freud?8

It is curious how psychoanalysis needs process and historicization even when there is no history to be retrieved. What calls for representation is a psychic functioning that may otherwise take severe paghological ways of expression: acting-out, psychosomatic illnesses, etc. Thereby, the importance of the concepts of analytical process and historicization, but I find is still more important the notion of the history of the analytic process. The more we tune our analytical senses to produce analytical acts that can either interpret the desire expressed in a dream as an Oedipal desire, or the relation of objects of an ideal structure corresponding to narcissism, or even constructing uncontrollable mnemonic marks (with the help of countertransference and our own mind), or working with the structural disavowal and the creation of a virtual fetish,9 the more will we be interpreting what I call "psychic zones."10 But, what does analysis consists in? Is it a process in which all psychic zones can be analyzed, understood and acquire word representation? Or is it mainly the start up of a force (the drive force) lying beneath each of the psychic zones and in search for representation.

Eventually, I believe that the problem of the analytic cure as for today's cultural requirements is defined in an essential point - psychoanalysis should be able to develop an analytic setting flexible enough as to let the transforming power of the drive push forward in its search for representation. This representation is either discovered by the patient him/herself, or with the help of the analyst's mind through those analytical acts that in time compose an analytic process.



1. Marucco NC. Recordar, repetir y elaborar: un desafío para el psicoanálisis actual. In: Marucco NC. Cura analítica y transferencia. De la represión a la desmentida. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu; 1999.        [ Links ]

2. Freud S. (1923) El yo y el ello. In: Obras completas. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu; 1979. vol. 19, p. 1-66.        [ Links ]

3. Freud S. (1916-17) Conferencias de introducción al psicoanálisis. In: Obras completas. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu; 1979. vol. 16, p. 153-213.        [ Links ]

4. Green A. La nueva clínica psicoanalítica y la teoría de Freud. Aspectos fundamentales de la locura privada. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu; 1993.        [ Links ]

5. Freud S. (1895) Estudios sobre la histeria. In: Obras completas. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu; 1979. vol. 2, p. 1-325.        [ Links ]

6. Freud S. (1905) Fragmento de análisis de un caso de histeria. In: Obras completas. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu; 1979. vol. 7, p. 183.        [ Links ]

7. Marucco NC. Introducción de [lo siniestro] en el yo. In: Marucco NC. Cura analítica y transferencia. De la represión a la desmentida. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu; 1999.        [ Links ]

8. Freud S. (1920) Más allá del principio del placer. In: Obras completas. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu; 1979. vol. 18, p. 153-213.        [ Links ]

9. Marucco NC. Edipo, castración y fetiche. Una revisión de la teoría psicoanalítica de la sexualidad. In: Marucco NC. Cura analítica y transferencia. De la represión a la desmentida. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu; 1999.        [ Links ]

10. Marucco NC. Las neurosis hoy: en las vías de acceso a las "zonas psíquicas". In: Marucco NC. Cura analítica y transferencia. De la represión a la desmentida. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu; 1999.        [ Links ]



Correspondence to
Norberto C. Marucco
San Luis, 3364/1186
República Argentina

Received on August 24, 2004.
Revised on August 26, 2004.
Approved on September 21, 2004.



*In this sense I would like to highlight, for example, some developments of linking psychoanalysis that, under my viewpoint, try to account for this inclusion of culture. If, as I have already commented in another work, the intrapsychic representation of family and couple express and represent themselves as cultural aspects in our psychism, would not we have here a possible way towards the psychoanalysis advance in the end of this century? Let us think about clinic: there is not, by the way, in our culture, those individuals that think they are enjoying life, but in fact are mere observers? Maybe for those people, the cultural ideals (both in their promises of good way of life as in their idealization requirements) support a pathology that at the same time makes them lack erotism and release their destructive tendencies. This is a situation Freud has already warned us about (1930 [1929]) in Civilization And Its Discontents.

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