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The Inevitability of 'Routines'

Updated: Jun 27

Notes on the Psychic Rhythm

Inner Rhythm
The Role of Inner Rhythm

Do you like Pages better or Word?

What a random question, right.. well, it might surprise you but yours truly spends a minute deciding which one to open to write the newsletter! (As if the ‘right’ format will make the ‘(w)righting’ seamless.)


While on some level this may seem an absolute BS, but I’m a creature of habit and I have learnt to see value in the conundrum of ‘space & time’ for any form of thinking, being & feeling.


I can only write with Jazz playing at the back (and so plays Sinatra at this point);

I can only be my therapist self when I’m in my chair.


Basically, I’m a cat, living in my own world of routines.


While for Freud there’s no concept of time in the unconscious, there ought to be an organising agent that situates psychic continuity in the reality. For me, that’s the reverie of space & time, aka, the Inner Rhythm.


What I’m trying to build towards is something quite simple, and hence rejected by the hustle & grind culture, or practically anything that is designed to render us anxious- like deadlines!!

I’m talking about the rhythm of being.


What is your rhythm of being? We never talk about it.

I’d love to know, really?

Do you wanna build a snowman?


All we talk about are the notes of music- we keep a checklist, we keep a tab on our productivity, we have a to-do list but there’s no app to measure how it all comes together.

There’s no one coming to weave our notes of the mind into psyche. How could they?


This reminds me of a podcast where the analyst (forgetting the name) made a clever statement- that “psychiatry is mindless, and psychology is brainless”.

From where I sit, I hear in that quoted statement an inherent incompletion, a deep & wide gap. 

The world without music, even of nature, is pierced empty; it gives an imagery of an abandoned, no-one’s land. A town that is all concrete without any semblance of life. Now cut paste this idea to the inner world & imagine how barren the psyche could feel without a rhythm.


I never see you any more

Come out the door

It's like you've gone away!


(Sometimes I think about the titles I pick to write on, almost trying to make my life difficult. Anyhoo…)


So, what is your rhythm?


I was reading, a while back, The Rhythm of Music by Ogden (yeah, you’ll soon realise I repeatedly read a few thinkers). He opens the paper saying “In the course of this discussion, I will ask the reader to listen to his listening” (* weeping *— leave it on to the psychoanalyst to make things poetically difficult). He goes on to explain it (pheww) as “to listen to the ways he (the therapist) listens and hears listening to an analytic session”.


Somehow, I find myself readily inviting of this idea for it opens the window for fiction & anonymity in therapy, in ways that otherwise a non-rhythmic role would not. To be able to transition from the listener to the listener’s listener, from the knower to the unknown, from the conscious listening to the reverie- basically, any transition or movement needs a rhythm, and any analytic listening demands this swaying.


Now, I can slowly see my writing becoming more about analytic listening, than the inner rhythm.


But that’s perhaps the liberating format one needs in order to listen, read, write, think & be in the world of Psychoanalysis. To be able to flow, float and fuse is the work of rhythm; to be able to survive ruptures is the possibility of rhythm; to be able to reckon & reconcile is the goal of rhythm.


Let’s just put it this way- Winnicott writes in On the Capacity to Be Alone, “the goal for the child is to be alone in the presence of the mother”, what our piece is brewing First name is to replace (not literally, if ever you take anything in psychoanalysis in literality), replace the mother with rhythm. The goal for the therapist, or the inner world, is to integrate in the presence of a rhythm. 


So let me put our favourite men in the field to use!


Freud- Okay, I don’t know if to stick the idea of Biorhythms to Freud or his bestie William Fliess, but it’s certain that this idea was conceived between them.

Basically, the concept of biorhythm proposes human lives are influenced by rhythmic cycles of physical, emotional, and intellectual states recurring over 23, 28, and 33 days respectively, & that our behavior and performance fluctuate based on these purported cycles.

Now, I don't know why mister didn't follow through this idea when most women can vouch for it (maybe that's why!), however, the ideation around rhythms & psychic functioning goes long back.


Winnicott- If one is to read closely, for Winnicott, the experience of childhood, if not a rhythmic, is a disaster. From the rocking of the infant by the mother, to the child forming a sentence by tying sounds & syntax in a rhythm to the possibility of play made accessible via rhythmic movements, Winnicott’s understanding of psychic & bodily movements is tied via “the rhythms of his need for sleep and for wakefulness, of his need for engagement with others and his need for isolation, the rhythms of hunger and satiation, the rhythms of breathing and heartbeat” (1956). He goes on to build on the idea of ‘attunement’, one of his most significant contributions, parallel to the importance of rhythmic experiences in early development


Thomas Ogden- More than others, Ogden is dedicatedly invested in the idea of rhythm. For him, rhythm symbolises an inseparability that makes human experience fundamentally possible. In other words, his idea of rhythm in psychoanalysis refers to the unconscious patterning of bodily experiences, affects, and fantasies that shape an individual's sense of being. Ogden wrote a paper on rhythm for god's sake!!!

The point isss that aware or not, our TLC is a product of a well understood psychic rhythm. What else is a therapeutic alliance if not a dance on that rhythm?


So, what does your rhythm look like?



P.S Do you wanna build a snowman?

It doesn't have to be a snowman… (hope you know by now the snowman here is the symbolic 'rhythm’!).


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