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For a Clinic of the Imaginary

December 12/21/2020 | Sergio Spritzer ©


An inspiring metaphor for the composite way of thinking comes from an ancient fable from the Orient.

A group of blind people examined an object larger than themselves, trying to define what it was. (The narrator says it's an elephant and describes how each one proceeds): One of them touches the animal's ear and imagines it's a palm tree. The other touches his leg and imagines it is a tree trunk. The third touches its tail and imagines it's a vine. The fourth blows the horn and imagines that it is a rope for tying up a ship and “concludes” that they had already reached the port where they intended to catch a ship. Another objected saying that it was a ravine when touching the trunk. How to know "The Truth?"

The truth for this set of people is a composite of perceptions that appears as a composite representation between them. It is through the effect of the composition of imaginaries that each person has access to the elephant phenomenon, which at that moment becomes real for everyone. This “emergent property” only exists as an effect of the interactions between them. Fixed each one in their vision, they would continue sustaining a distorted imagery and struggling to impose theirs on the other indefinitely. Opening up to interaction, a new field appears, transcending the formation of meaning, more inclusive than that of me, you and he. It is the field of We. It is only perceptible as a meta-perception, which exists between the perception of the self of each one and the self of each other.

The elephant would then become conscious and existent. It could be avoided or used as a means of transport or an indication of where the group of blind pilgrims is.

What if the elephant were built imaginary? The elephant could be created among themselves without having a physical existence, as a metaphorical exercise of belonging in a group. One would imagine that he is holding each of the parts of the animal until everyone imagines its shape in three dimensions from a composite imagery.

This group of pilgrims could be any human relationship in search of an understanding, at least three-dimensional, of meanings that are not closed in themselves. It could be a couple looking for their identity as a couple, a family, a group of friends, a team of a human nature organization looking for their identity as a whole.

The movement of dividing in two and one of the parts of oneself living experientially in the existential place of the other and realizing what it is like to relate from there, while the other performs the same operation of dividing his self, reciprocally and then these singular operations are composed in the plural, the emergence of a new instance that is the We. This We is the reference for a transforming practice of a group from a clinic that we call the clinic of the imaginary.

As each one of us is essentially a group of experiences with varied relationships in the time and space of our private lives, the same operating principle applies when we examine the multiple selves and others in our personal history, imagining a way in which it is possible to try to interact with them and offer an open position for them to interact with us at any time. The result of all this is the appearance of an emergent reality that is our transcendent self, which gives meaning to our entire life and wonders what is the meaning of this or that moment in relation to our entire life.

This text succeeds the fundamentals of Relational Consciousness towards the compound way of thinking and aims to qualify how a practice of research and clinical intervention is possible through active and co-active imagination as long as the disposition, desire or expectation of defining and/or achieving a common goal or objective.

The body is the original imaginary reference for all others, physical and mental. An object is on top of, beside, inside or outside another object in reference to the body position that can be inside or outside that object. People, in the same way, can be mentally above, below side, behind themselves and others, in complex operations of the mental imagery that have the physical reference as a base. In short, if something is, it is for an embodied representation of itself. So much so, that existence and identity are evidenced by self-perception: seeing to believe or believing to see, in both cases it is the self that operates as a referent. And what refers to the self is its physical representation. If on the physical plane the withdrawal of the self causes death, on the mental plane it does the same.

The perception of oneself in relation to others is inevitable. Self-reference was only made possible by the interaction with certain others with the proper developed self-reference, through which mirroring, incorporating and assimilating the mirroring of the other, we perceive ourselves as one I among others.

Hence the need for a methodology that composes self and hetero-knowledge of a reality of common interest.

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