Lets Pretend! Synchronicity, Suffering & Psychoanalysis

Girl with Death Mask (She Plays Alone), Frida Kahlo
Girl with Death Mask (She Plays Alone), Frida Kahlo

Can there be a more reliable indication of stupidity than the phrase ‘everything happens for a reason’? But if we play the game of presupposing a shape or interconnection to life, this play space connects us to the real – the shared experience of illusion. This game allows us to act as though our lives had weight, to act as though the universe possessed meaning in relation to us, to the you and I (and I in you) of this moment. This is the game of faith, not in the nebulous other, but the dreamlike meaningful coincidence that Jung called synchronicity.

Alan Watts used to ponder, when confronted with cruelty or stupidity, ‘Oh how interesting the form Buddha has taken for me today!’ The form Buddha has taken for me today is precisely the ‘third space’ of the transitional phenomena D.W Winnicott speaks of as the birth place of play, culture, and the emergence of self; the transition space between the inner world of drive, and the outer world of succor / dukkha. In other words, the real.

If the structure of phenomenological reality is what Robert A. Wilson called a ‘reality tunnel’, then merely being a client (of analysis, of CBT or whatever) can create an inner world mirroring the therapist’s theory. Demand characteristics in the fragile sciences, refer to the affect on experimental participants of experimenters unconsciously expressed desires. Elizabeth Loftus, that great pioneer of imagined memory, applied the idea to psychotherapy, demonstrating the epistemic metaconsensus of the encounter is shaped by the implicit communication (in psychodynamic terms, the suggestion) of the therapist.

The patient of psychoanalsysis becomes the parapraxic analysand, the subject of analytical psychology arrives at each session brimming with archetypal dreams and so on. All the players have their scripts in the dramaturgy of the therapy session. This being the case, we see that psychoanalysis (and indeed clinical psychology) isn’t archaeology of the mind so much as the construction of a creationist theme park. But if we play the game of presupposing it is not… Then we all become Lacanians.