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The Impossible task called 'Writing'!

Updated: Jun 27

Notes on Writing Psychoanalytically


Notes on Writing Psychoanalytically

Well, this month’s highlight has been ‘writing’ (what a vague way to start, right?!).

 

Let me give a bit of context- it’s 5:03 am, I’m sitting with an espresso, my cats sleeping in their usual spots, still dark outside, and slow jazz playing in the background. I live for this moment, basically. 

 

And at this dawn of perfection- I’m deciding to write about, Writing.


 

Well, I recently organised a writing workshop with some dear colleagues, "haiku for Psychotherapists", & I realised that I (must) write to dialogue...

Writing is how I (can) express love or feel loved, it’s my paintbrush to create the beautiful and the ugly. 

 

It's the most private relationship I’ve had, lived and been careless with.

Writing is how my grief shows up; it's how I endorse my enactments.

 

I’m no longer talking about academic writing, am I? (if I was talking about that anyway). 


I’m talking about writing not as an act, but as an emotional currency.

 

How else does it explain both withdrawal & yearning that floats in it? 

From something as understated as writing a text message, to receiving as intense as a love letter; we're caught up in the battle of seeing, & being seen. Alas, to the mind in emotional debt, anything that requires giving language to feelings feels like labour.

 

Writing is how we connect (with the self & the other), and withdraw (from the self & the other)- lately, more the latter for me. 


Now, what got me back to writing? 

 

That’s a tough one… if I tell you, I’ll have to kill you! (please tell me you also make bad jokes to evade...). 

 

Perhaps, this is what I’m talking about- writing as a reverie of our intimate relationship with the self-- the one that I have been estranged with since past few years. 

Quick context part 2- I loved writing, presenting & publishing till 2020. I loved the guise I had at University of Essex, or IIT, or where-ever words were enough. 

Writing was a part of the being, until one day it was hard to be.


Coming to the point, ... I always say that the impact of the lockdown on the collective psyche will only be known in generational hindsight, which is both true, and convenient!

I’m not here to write about my (shared) shock & grief of betrayal, loneliness, loss, absurdity, helplessness (simply because that would be brave...), but I believe I’ve reckoned that it will always be a part of me, and my writing. 

 

And hence, I got back to writing (lucky you!!!!), out of recognition- that I can no more pretend it’s an external deed for me; it's a lived panorama of my relationship with the unkept parts of me. 

Writing is what we do from a place of vulnerabilities, and it gets torn & illegible when those vulnerabilities are shamed & unsafe.

 

Now I write to build a relationship with those irrevocable parts of the self, to not deprive them of the chance of recognition, to not make them central, but ordinary. 

 

I write (this piece especially) to speak to similarly withdrawn parts of your self,  which might show up as flamboyance, or as absence; which might be supported by silences or the therapy hour; which might be making you who you are, or masking who you really are. 

 

I write to those tattered parts of you and invite them to form a relationship with the tattered part of me- my writing. 

We may not heal together, but we can be safely unhealed together. 



 

What helps me keep my head above water when it comes to Writing?

 

Just some things I realised the hard long way (& you might want to save it!!)

 

Write like you drink! 

Work of an artist, any artist, is to make the other feel less lonely.  Adam Phillips has repeatedly said that “one of the main problems with his psychoanalytic colleagues is that their writing is so boring”- now as a psychoanalyst, I’m certain his concern is not with the monotony of the work, but with losing the reader interim for un-fun reasons. 

 

When in doubt, Write!

Psychoanalysis is not just a ‘talking cure’, but a ‘writing cure’- 

and I can stretch myself to say that after reading a bunch of letters that Freud wrote to his dear best friend Fliess. One would find such ordinariness of struggle in them- the difficulty of finding patients, the longing for the companionship of a colleague, the development of an idea (that eventually became concepts of Psychoanalysis).

So basically, write because you can!

 

What kind of a person writes to restrict?

Ogden says, and I passionately agree, “When analytic writing is good, it is evident that the author’s intent has not been to be ‘poetic’ (if it were, the sentences would feel embarrassingly contrived). Rather, the words and phrases have unself-conscious poise” (Ogden, 2005).

 

Writing like Dreaming!

Freud rightly figured, "Patients don't get better by free association, they get better when they free associate". To write like free association is a private invitation to the self.

 

 

What am I trying to say? 

 

Well, if you know me by now, you know the answer is, "I don't know"! 

Just that, I’m happy to be giving writing another chance, & hoping it drives home a point. 

 

Has it evolved & densified in the last few gap years; I don’t think so. 

But it has gotten, digestible. 

I no longer must regurgitate it, it’s getting flavorful, even if it’s not my known & favourite flavour. But, well, I’ll develop a taste. 




P.S. You don't have to be a writer to write, you just have to not be a stranger.


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