1st Edition

Creative Listening and the Psychoanalytic Process Sensibility, Engagement and Envisioning

By Fred Griffin Copyright 2016
    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    208 Pages
    by Routledge

    Contemporary psychoanalytic thinking about the interdependence of subjectivity and intersubjectivity has reenvisioned the analytic process, and with it the very nature of creative and engaged psychoanalytic listening. Yet few systematic writings on psychoanalytic listening or technique provide comprehensive instruction that would prepare the analyst for the kind of analytic listening needed to participate imaginatively in this sort of intersubjective experience.Offering a short course in analytic listening, Creative Listening and the Psychoanalytic Process provides a guide for the clinical uses of imaginative literature.

    Outside the psychoanalytic literature, extraordinary pieces of imaginative literature exist that provide the kind of experience in analytic listening that can guide clinicians in their work with patients. Certain works of fiction create textured, sensory worlds in which complex characters possessing shifting states of consciousness live within fluid emotional atmospheres. In this book, Fred Griffin demonstrates that by entering the worlds that original writers create in their texts, the psychoanalytic therapist will learn to attend more closely to varying emotional states that generate nuanced, multidimensional views of the analysand’s internal and relational worlds. He illustrates how these works capture more fully the sensory experience encountered by psychoanalysts when taking in what the patient communicates within the analytic space.

    Creative Listening and the Psychoanalytic Process presents case material alongside selected passages from works of fiction written by a range of creative writers, each of which stimulates analytic sensibility about this clinical experience. A conceptual framework is provided that makes these and other original works of fiction more accessible for these purposes. This book will be essential reading for psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists, as well as professors and graduate students studying psychoanalysis and literature. It will also appeal to literary scholars and those teaching and practicing in the field of narrative medicine.

    Acknowledgements. Epigraph. PART I. 1. Introduction: Acts of Psychoanalytic Listening. 2. Clinical Conversations between Psychoanalysis and Imaginative Literature: Restoring the Analytic Space. 3. Listening to Oneself: One Form of Self-Analysis. PART II. 4. The Clinical Material of To the Lighthouse. 5. Listening for Atmospheres of Emotional Experience. 6. Embodied Analytic Listening. PART III. 7. Re-Listening: Listening for and to Inarticulate Experience---What she was trying to say. 8. After-Listening: In Search of Lost Time in Psychological Space. 9. Listening for Traces Left Behind: Constructing Ernest Jones.


    Fred L. Griffin is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Dallas Psychoanalytic Center and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical School. He is also in private practice as a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist.

    "This is a most welcome book in which Fred Griffin develops the idea of creative listening in the experience of reading literature and in the experience of listening with patients. He beautifully captures the subtle shifts in qualities of consciousness he finds in the work of Woolf, Faulkner, and Proust; he goes on to make use of his ear for such shifts in heightening his receptivity to subtle, but crucially important alterations in states of consciousness in the analytic setting. Griffin guides the reader patiently and respectfully through the texts he discusses and through the vivid analytic experiences he presents. In this book, the pleasure and demands of reading literature and the pleasure and demands of analytic work are brought into lively conversation with one another, each enriching the other. This book is a major contribution to psychoanalysis in that it provides an original way of making use of imaginative writing in the development not only of the analyst’s ear for the expressiveness of language, but also in the development of the analyst’s emotional receptivity to what is occurring in the analytic setting."-Thomas Ogden, M. D., author of Creative Readings: Essays on Seminal Analytic Works and The Parts Left Out: A Novel.

    "This is one of the most creative books to appear in many years. Fred Griffin has forged a dialogue between psychoanalysis and imaginative literature that enhances the depth and sensitivity of our analytic listening in invaluable ways. There are many books on psychoanalytic technique, but few can match this wonderful book in rendering the art of psychoanalysis. Dr. Griffin has given us a true treasure. This is a work that no analytic therapist should be without."-Theodore J. Jacobs, M.D., author of The Use of the Self: Countertransference and Communication in the Analytic Situation and The Possible Profession: The Analytic Process of Change.

    "Tracing the interplay of reading and psychoanalytic listening, observing the other and listening to the self, Griffin draws our attention to the way imagination grows, collapses, and is reclaimed and the way it is shaped and nurtured by object relations. Griffin convinces the reader of the centrality of the imagination for psychic growth and demonstrates with rich clinical examples the ways that imagination can be fostered in the analytic situation. This marvelous book will be of value to clinicians, teachers, and students of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis."-Lucy LaFarge, M.D., Regional Editor for North America, The International Journal of Psychoanalysis

    "In a series of "experiments with himself," Fred Griffin draws inspiration from the modernist writings of Woolf, Faulkner, and Proust to show that psychoanalysis at its best is an art of "creative listening" to what goes on in the mind of the analyst as he seeks to open himself up to the states of being that may lie beneath the words of the patient. The potential of psychoanalysis to "quicken" dead or slumbering souls is powerfully exhibited in Griffin’s work."-Peter L. Rudnytsky, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., author of Rescuing Psychoanalysis from Freud and Other Essays in Re-Vision and Mutual Analysis: Ferenczi, Severn, and the Origins of Trauma Theory.

    "Impressively literate, deeply humane, and elegantly crafted, Fred Griffin's book shines a searchlight upon the nuances of meaningful reading of literature as well as upon truly engaged listening to our patients. It takes us on a delicious sojourn of attunement in both the literary and the clinical realms, often unmasking the unnoticed overlaps between them. A remarkable achievement indeed!"-Salman Akhtar, M.D., Training and Supervising Analyst, Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia, author of Psychoanalytic Listening (2013).

    "It is a thrill to follow Fred Griffin’s exquisitely sensitive analyses of texts and the imaginative personal resolutions stimulated by literature that contribute to and are integrated in his clinical work. Emotional experience begins with the body; literary texts are the containers of the writer’s struggles and conflicts in their lives and relationships. Griffin brilliantly draws on the presentation of conflicts by creative writers such as Virginia Woolf or William Carlos Williams to play with and resolve his personal frustrations, dead ends, and blocks in his psychotherapeutic work. He is an insightful, extraordinary clinician, who effectively "consults" great literature."-Professor Peter Loewenberg, UCLA., author of Decoding the Past and Fantasy and Reality in History and editor of 100 Years of the IPA. Training and Supervising Analyst, New Center for Psychoanalysis, LA.

    "Griffin makes me want to read more literature. Reading this book transported me to my own cases and the literary works that I have found particularly relevant to clinical experience. While most art is generative to the psychoanalytic process because of its constant requirement to engage the imagined in interpretive relationship with the real, literature seems especially suited because of its capacity to hold psychic experience in the phrases and, more profoundly, in the imagined spaces that emerge from the scripted page. Literature’s "vicarious experience," as Charles (2015, p. 3) describes it, captures our conscious and unconscious processes in ways that, for Griffin, "expanded my capacity to think about how the analytic process relates to and fosters the development of the representational world" (p. 168)." -Earl D. Bland, professor of psychology, Biola University