I’ve written about this concept by DW Winnicott on past posts – ‘the capacity to be alone in the presence of another’ – one that underlies many aspects of our developmental journey – our capacity for solitude, for good reading and attention, love in relationships, and self respect, inter alia…
This excerpt is from a write up that details an interview with Adam Phillips on this topic. Both links are included below:
PHILLIPS: That idea was one of Winnicott’s most radical, because what he was saying was that solitude was prior to the wish to transgress. That there’s something deeply important about the early experience of being in the presence of somebody without being impinged upon by their demands, and without them needing you to make a demand on them. And that this creates a space internally into which one can be absorbed. In order to be absorbed one has to feel sufficiently safe, as though there is some shield, or somebody guarding you against dangers such that you can “forget yourself ” and absorb yourself, in a book, say. Or, for the child, in a game. It must be one of the precursors of reading, I suppose. I think for Winnicott it would be the definition of a good relationship if, in the relationship, you would be free to be absorbed in something else.
“How should we read psychoanalysis? Many of its great theorists – Sigmund Freud, Donald Winnicott, Jacques Lacan – trained as doctors, and their successors tend to follow the rigid formulae of academic papers. However, for Adam Phillips, a practising psychoanalyst who is also a perceptive literary critic, it is “more illuminating” to consider psychoanalysts as poets “rather than failed or aspiring scientists”. “
“This attitude is characteristic of how, since the publication of On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored 20 years ago, Phillips has distinguished himself from most psychoanalytical writing. He is fond of playfully addressing subjects (freedom, boredom) that he feels his colleagues have neglected, and in a form – the literary essay – far removed from clinical studies. After 17 books, this collection brings together pieces that span Phillips’s career, arranged chronologically, although it excludes his writing on literature.”
See link: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/dec/01/adam-phillips-essays-one-way-review
“[Scientists] found that emotionally charged writing activated areas of the brain which are known to respond to music. Predominantly on the right side, these regions had previously been shown to give rise to the “shivers down the spine” feeling caused by an emotional response to music. The researchers found that when study participants read one of their favorite passages of poetry, regions of the brain associated with memory were stimulated more strongly than “reading areas.” This suggests that reading a favorite passage is like a recollection. When the team specifically compared poetry to prose, they found evidence that poetry activates brain regions associated with introspection – such as the posterior cingulate cortex and medial temporal lobes.” See links below:
I certainly believe we all suffer damage, one way or another. How could we not, except in a world of perfect parents, siblings, neighbours, companions? And then there is the question, on which so much depends, of how we react to the damage: whether we admit it or repress it, and how this affects our dealings with others. Some admit the damage, and try to mitigate it; some spend their lives trying to help others who are damaged; and then there are those whose main concern is to avoid further damage to themselves, at whatever cost. And those are the ones who are ruthless, and the ones to be careful of.
—Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending. Vintage Books 2012