In the Mind's Eye: A Portfolio of a Human Journey
The "journey" in this Gallery is through the inner landscape of the mind.
As a psychoanalyst, I have been accustomed to working in the métiers of prose and poetry even though my patients were often trying to describe what they pictured visually. Dreams and fantasies for example are almost always visual first and converted into words, however poetically, secondarily. A few years ago I decided as a photographer to take what was described to me in words and place it back in the visual language in which it originated. I decided to attempt this in psychoanalysis, a framework I knew well after many decades of practice. Here is my attempt.
Some of the concepts and the process as described may seem unfamiliar but I have shown this work to a number of male and female analytic colleagues and they find the portfolio credible in its depiction of the course of an analysis, even if condensed into only fifteen images. There is no way, of course, that any fifteen images can capture the complexity of the human mind and the analytic process but within the restrictions of being necessarily abbreviated, these images do capture the essence.
The human story is that of a woman in psychoanalysis struggling with whether she is to be a woman like Eve, and inherit the cultural weight of that profound story, or to be a woman as in #MeToo, with a new cultural freedom and assertiveness.
All images in this gallery are copyrighted by Jon Meyer © and all rights are reserved. I do not license any of these images but would be happy to discuss custom prints. Please contact me about custom prints and I would be happy to discuss options and materials.
This image is the first in a portfolio of fifteen. It is a very human story of a woman taking a journey to find herself through the vehicle of psychoanalysis. As a practicing psychoanalyst for many years it is a story that I have seen repeatedly. Any journey to find oneself begins with self-reflection and a recognition that there are questions, conflicts, and unknown territories within oneself yet to be traveled. In this image the woman who is to take the journey is having a hard look at herself in the mirror. The door is open to a corridor that leads somewhere as yet unspecified. An apple is on the window sill. A serious question to be answered is whether she bears the burden of Eve's temptation in the Garden, and the guilt and shame that are integral to it, or whether she has the freedom of #MeToo. *Please see the monochrome version of this image added at the end of this series.
In this image the journey has begun on the couch. Her analyst is present who will be a guide, a support, and a fellow participant in her journey. In the beginning, she is tearful and grieving because one of the first stops along the way is to grieve the disappointments and losses that every human being experiences. There are three panels created by the walls surrounding the couch: the wall at the foot of the couch, the wall behind the couch, and the framed picture on the wall at the head of the couch. These spaces serve to hold the projections of past, present, and future. At the foot, self-reflection is reprised--the past. Behind the couch, the woman is seen walking head down to her first session--the present; she is walking down the corridor seen from a different vantage point in the open door in the bedroom scene above. And, finally, within the frame is the image of something yet to happen--the future.
Not all of an analytic journey takes place in the consulting room. Important parts of it take place during sleep, in dreams. In a surreal fashion, the reflected image from the day before remains in the mirror. There is something different in the doorway; something not yet known or experienced. In the pictures on the wall are images from earlier in the day at her session. As nature abhors a vacuum, the human mind will not tolerate blank spaces and will fill them with its own projections of past, present, and only vaguely seen, future. The apple is on the bureau.
In her first dream, the analyst is included, not as a professional but as a civilian. Analysts are often included the the dreams of those they work with to fulfill roles as needed. She is holding the apple which strongly suggests that this phase of her journey is about working through issues of temptation and the legacy of Eve. In the dream, good and evil represent the gates that form the portal of the dream. While the dream belongs to its creator, psychoanalysis is a two-person process and the analyst will have his own feelings that make him more or less suitable as a figure in the dream.
Once a person has begun his/her journey, those travels through the inner world, what I have referred to as the inner landscape, influence other parts of one's life. The woman has been out in her little black dress and wine and an apple are on the nightstand. There is an unfamiliar scene in the mirror, a man who resembles the analyst in her dream is disappearing through the doorway and an unfamiliar image is in the visible picture on the wall.
There comes a point in analytic inner travels that the relationship between the inner and outer worlds comes together and blends. There is a trajectory, a story of inner life, that needs to be played out in order for the direction and geography of the inner travels to become clear. Part of that playing out of the story has to do with the recognition and confrontation of the fact that two people are involved. That recognition and confrontation gives substance to what has been previously only a vague intuition of an inner compulsion to play something out with the analyst.
The relationship with the analyst, its sexualization, and the replaying of the Eve story have intensified. The good and evil gates surrounding the portal of the dream are still there but the action in the dream suggests that the feelings involved are more sexual and likely to be more destructive. Evil seems more paramount.
As the inner playing out of the relationship becomes more intense, the outer relationship remains restrained. In the absence of actual enactment of the dream material, frustration mounts, criticism sharpens, and anger at the whole situation becomes more intense. If there are two of us in this, why are you remaining so passive!
In the ultimate intensification of the saga of temptation, sense of evil, and frustrated rage, this dream is in hell with the apple offered directly and angrily as the forbidden fruit. Anger is the engine that powers much of inner life.
In the aftermath of the most intense dream, comes a hint of peace. Having pursued the legacy of temptation, guilt, and shame into the very pit of hell, as it were, there comes the reasonable question of what is this all about anyway? Is this really me? On the walls bracketing the couch is the naked temptress, the journey into hell, and in the picture on the wall something more peaceful not yet experienced but on the horizon.
I am adding this image, in a sense, with an asterisk. It is a monochrome version of the first image in this series, so why add it? The reason is that it was awarded first place in the annual juried print show of Cary Photographic Artists in 2019. This is a high-powered show so I was pleased with the results to say the least.