Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

“A Precipitate”

Originally posted on July 27, 2018

In chemistry, mixing two solutions, depending on what they are, will generate a “precipitate”—a formation of solids that sink to the bottom of the test tube. It’s from a time when only physicians who know such words, who have taken chem-istry, were allowed to become psychoanalysts.

In the 1960s first one psychoanalytic institute, then another, loosened this requirement, and by the end of the1970s few of them maintained this standard. By then, also, fewer physicians were taking training in psychoanalysis. (It just occur-ed to me that knowing a little recent history is useful!)

Anyway, there’s a psychoanalytic “truism” that “The ego is the precipitate of lost objects.” It’s not altogether so, I suspect, but the statement points out some truth. We unconsciously hunker down and cope with that which is no longer available—and that becomes an agglomeration of maneuvers that then becomes part of your repertoire. It’s not that simple, of course—it operates on a whole other dimension, and there are ephemera that we cannot grasp. But it reflects several things, such as (1) Everyone has losses and mixed experiences, even it they’re only losses of illusions! And (2) We all cope with our losing as we grow, and few of us are conscious of most of this coping. It’s "get with reality, kid. It’s over. Can’t you accept that it’s over?” Aging, innocence, your love affair, the one before that, no, not that one, before….

The point here is the normalization of psycho-therapeutic processes, the making them part of our living. It’s happening all the time: You’re slipping into one illusory system even as you painfully break free of another. That’s life.

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