‘A Question of Training’ by Chris Oakley

By 1936 the International Training Committee at Marienbad came up with this… “Actually all the candidate has acquired through the training analysis IN THE BEST OF CASES, (i.e. it does not happen to all, my emphasis), is the ability to approach his own unconscious and that of another person WITH AN OPEN MIND.” This seems to leave so open as to what is meant by an ‘open mind’ that one could drive a coach and horses through it, in other words why this insistence on analysis at all? Is the assumption that without psychoanalysis we all go around with closed minds? And for those of you who might very well ask, but why go all the way back to before the second world war, surely there have been more recent developments, a more sophisticated understanding, I can assure you nothing has fundamentally changed.

But maybe this imperative is informed by an idea that by being “fully analysed”, a phrase that you will often hear, one clears up, cleans up even, that which we are not as yet aware of, exhausts or extinguishes our unconscious? If so, does this not reveal a potentially disastrous dissociation from one of the main discoveries of psychoanalysis: that there could never be a final destination, a last word, an exhaustive knowledge of anyone’s unconscious…it is always already interminable, insistently elusive. And of course, and this may be right at the heart of all these difficulties, this is true not only for analysis and being analysed, but for any learning and indeed any act of theorising at all. But, please, this is not to suggest that the solution is that all analysts are forever in analysis. It is Shoshona Felman (“Jacques Lacan and the adventure of insight.” Harvard Univ Press 1987 p.89) who emphasises that psychoanalysis “truly teaches only in so far as it subverts itself”, subverts any idea of an arrival at a resting up place of certainties… so do we come up against one of the resistences of psychoanalysis in this certainty of this unalterable requirement that all analysts should be analysed? But if one were to allow the idea that whilst some final rendezvous might be ruled out, surely a claim could be made for at least embarking on the journey. After all would not a psychoanalysis, in the best of cases, lead one to become more alive, more capable of enjoyment, of living the “good” life. Lets hope so, but surely no one would claim that this is the only route?

Meanwhile no greater clarity, no guarentees are forthcoming. In Vienna at the International Conference in 1971, where there is still ongoing concern over precisely these issues, the report states that “apparently we do not have DEFINITE CRITERIA FOR ASSESSMENT (i.e, as to whether someone becomes less unconscious with its potential link with greater stability) at ANY stage of progression (of the analysis)”.(Int. Journal of PsychoAnalysis 53 1972 p.41) But perhaps this requirement is informed by notions of indebtedness. In other words we owe it to submit to analysis…note here that one might understand this to suggest that psychoanalysis is something of an ordeal that one “submits” to, and that is not what I seek to suggest at all, rather the ‘submission’ is with regard to the insistence of the fundamental rule. But who does this indebtedness involve? Do we owe it to ourselves? To those who might come to see us for psychoanalysis? To psychoanalysis itself? Perhaps even to none other than Freud himself, for getting the whole thing going?