How might we best understand the meaning and experience of analytic work at its deepest level where something important takes place beyond our conscious comprehension?
Sometimes in life we act out something literally until we can understand it and work it out psychologically. At other times, something simply happens to us, as though “ it” is acting itself out literally through us. Take, for example, a burning skin rash, what could that mean psychologically? At such times we must hope to work it out consciously but also pay heed to a deeper mystery it may represent in the unconscious life. Through the lens of a case example, this talk will consider how the body is a containing vessel for the transformation of the psychic life in which the lived experience can become the transformative, healing substance. This work in analysis, while life changing for both analysand and analyst, is one of transforming lived experience into symbolic understanding. This is a distillation, the function of the alchemical oven, which is a symbol for the human body. The work of analysis is to trace this distillation process as it unfolds and becomes visible symbolically in both the lived life experience and through dreams.