Reflections on ‘A Kafkaesque Memoir’ (2)

I’m continuing to pick out sections from this extraordinary ‘inner autobiography’ which begins with Dennis McCort vociferously deriding psychoanalysis but over a 9 year treatment amending and altering his view until because of his experiences in therapy he is able towards the end of the work to say that:

the analytical mindset trumps all others except the authentically spiritual, that is, except for spiritual Enlightenment, analysis is the most comprehensive standpoint one can take vis-à-vis a given moment of consciousness. It yields the deepest truth about the phenomenal field at hand.

He goes on to explain why he believes this is so:

No matter what point of view one takes toward anything – intellectual, emotional, moral, aesthetic, even philosophical – that point of view is undergirded, informed, by the personal psychology of the one holding it.

There is also alongside this the realization that nothing is irrelevant to the therapy and what appears of no importance may hold the key to some further insight. In this sense there can be no boundary to what is discussed – free association as Freud called it: say whatever comes to your mind, whatever it is that you are feeling – and no boundary between the so-called process of analysis and ‘real life’. Ultimately, life itself and the process were identical.

However, interestingly, for him his confidence in the reality of the spiritual, in the sense of a fundamental consciousness ontologically prior to the individual, as ultimately trumping even the psychological remained intact during the long analytical process, and continues to do so, and as he puts it, ‘this is the final fact that balances the scales for me’.

There was for McCort a deeper awareness, gained from years of Zen practice and a lifelong interest in meditation that authentic spiritual truth could never be eclipsed even by the truth yielded to psychological inquiry. And why?

Because psychology, to the extent it is a systematic discipline, is based on the paradigmatic split between subject and object, between the one observing and the thing observed, whereas spiritual truth is precisely that which is revealed when this tragic split is healed – or, better yet, is shown never to have existed in the first place.

It seems that by holding the tension of on the one hand recognition of the unconscious determinism revealed through psychoanalysis (the reason I respond like this is because of this that has emerged from the unconscious) and on the other hand this deep experience of long spiritual practice led to the awareness of not either spiritual/or psychoanalytic but both/and. With this balance there came an ultimate freedom which was spiritual that remained immune to the analytic truth but somehow ‘co-extensive with it, pure and shining’ as McCort writes ‘a beacon from beyond it’.