Constructing Realities: Transformations Through Myth and Metaphor

Published on 
July 2004
Marilyn Charles, PhD ABPP

Constructing Realities book coverOne of the challenges in psychoanalytic work is to find ways to enliven the space when working with individuals whose thinking is highly constrained and who have little capacity for play. This incapacity often signals a split between valued and devalued aspects of self. In cases such as these, self-protection becomes paramount and may profoundly impede growth, as whatever is not known is perceived as dangerous, rather than being a challenge that invites further development.

For the therapist who must create aliveness within the consulting room, we are caught by the very real threat that this aliveness poses to the defensive structures on which the patient's equilibrium rests. Movement thus can be quite precarious. In this volume, Marilyn Charles considers how notions of "play" and "myth", as brought into the literature by Winnicott and Bion, can help to provide an interim space in which impossible realities can be constructed at a safe enough reserve that we can more actively consider them and thereby create possibilities, rather than foreclosing on them.

"In this and in her other writings Marilyn Charles reveals an admirable talent for conveying the texture, the nuances, the tonalities of human self-limitation and the subtleties of the therapeutic relationship -- how and why it works, when it does. She integrates theory, e.g., of Winnicott and of Bion, and clinical practice in an evocative way which has the effect of making the reader want to do likewise."
Robert Maxwell Young, Editor of Free Associations

"Marilyn Charles treats us once again to a highly readable, articulate, erudite, work in which she seamlessly glides between fascinating, poignant, and "alive" clinical material and current, broadly-based psychoanalytic theory"
James S. Grotstein