chapter  11
Bringing to mind
Research with patients on the primitive edge
ByJane Snyder
Pages 7

Recently I was teaching my advanced research seminar at the end of the day on Friday. Two class members who each lived a long drive away were absent due to predictions of “torrential rains.” The dangers of driving were discussed: the unpredictability of the weather; the inaccuracy of weather predictions; the difficulties in making it to class; the difficulties of doing research, of focusing the mind, of spending more time with patients who are already difficult to spend time with. The sessions bring up difficult feelings or a complete lack of feeling, in some cases feelings of fragmentation or a sense of losing oneself, and in other cases a sense of isolation and unbearable aloneness. I think it is safe to say that while all class members are working on their papers, none of them is enjoying the research process at this point. They complain: “It is difficult; it is the last thing I feel like doing. I would do anything else; clean the whole house before working on my paper. I cannot write more than one sentence at a time.” Most are working on the data analysis. They are irritable; they feel inadequate; they do not want to go crazy. Almost all are researching patients on the “primitive edge,” somatizing, pre-psychotic, narcissistic, perverse. As I left my office to go to my car, the torrential rains began and I stepped up my pace, misstepped on my slightly high-heeled sandal, turning my foot under and breaking it. Was this accident the result of feeling induced by the class?