The analyst's containing mind
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The analyst's containing mind book
My understanding of what constitutes the 'containing function' embraces both positions reviewed in the previous chapter. I see them as inextricably linked in that I take the essence of the 'containing stance' as being one of straddling, or bridging, different vertices of experience. The analyst's (and patient's) containing function offers a mental bridge between a number of opposing vertices: between analyst as 'dreamer' and analyst as a 'proper' object, between unassimilated internal experience and a focus on external reality, between the 'absence' and 'presence' of the analyst, between identifying and dis identifying with mental contents, and between 'not-knowing' and certainty. This is what I understand Bion to mean by the therapist's ability to maintain 'a balanced outlook' (1959, p.313): the ability to hold in mind multiple perspectives on an object in order to allow them to become something else or evolve new meaning. This position emphasizes the idea that the container function engages in a creative process of 'becoming' and resists being tied to categorical, factual, finite ways of thinking, endpoints. In considering the analyst's containing mind at work I apply MatteBlanco's (1988) theory of symmetrical and asymmetrical principles to try and elucidate its transcendent, polar, dynamic qualities. Although my emphasis is on moving away from the notion of the container as overly schematic and static in its usage, it remains important that part of the analyst's containing function works as a 'limiting function' and I consider Caper's (1999) view on the analyst as 'proper' object as useful in this regard.