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Con-Verse-ations: Re-Verse-ing Uni-Verse and Re-Visioning Psychoanalysis as Multi-Verse

Con-Verse-ations: Re-Verse-ing Uni-Verse and
Re-Visioning Psychoanalysis as Multi-Verse © 1999

by Gloria E. Cruice, Ph.D.


As a student in a clinical psychology graduate program that had a tradition of being psychoanalytically oriented, I became interested in the socio-political climate within the field of psychology which was radically changing the focus of graduate education and training in the United States.  The changes reflected a nationwide trend of unification of curricula and followed from what seemed to be an underlying philosophy that included universalism as an ideal.  The writing of this paper was very much inspired by personal contemplating on the implications of this philosophy within organizational and systems dynamics.

It became apparent to me that "speaking with one voice" is a sometimes thinly disguised imperative within institutional establishments that insist on surrender of individuality and diversity of thinking for the good of the organization.  To offer a different perspective, or even to have an opinion, much less to question theoretical or philosophical assumptions underlying policy, theory, methodology, or training is unacceptable and often leads to being ostracized or excommunicated from the group.

I have come to believe that an underlying philosophy that demands categorical thinking in the name of 'science' in psychology and the social sciences has had a profound effect on the direction mainstream psychoanalysis has taken.  The idealization of THE scientific method and the medicalization of psychoanalysis has led to a disregard for individual interpretations and unique experiences that pervades all aspects of professional practice.  This paper addresses these issues as they pertain to current psychoanalytic thinking and offers alternative ways of conceptualizing psychoanalysis as fundamentally based on Multi-Verse-ity, a philosophy that is distinctly different from the prevailing ideology that emphasizes Uni-Verse-All-ity.

This paper was presented at the Michigan Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology's monthly meeting and New Member Reception January 11, 1998.  It is a modified version of a presentation to the International Federation for Psychoanalytic Education on October 4, 1997 at their Eighth Annual Conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The paper was entitled, "Return to the Repressed of Uncertainty:  Rethinking Uni-Verse-All-ity and Resituating Psychoanalysis in the Be-Knowing."


The need to discover Uni-Verse-al laws, logic, and morality in the search for Absolute Truth has been an undisputed driving force within the episteme of the modern era. This trend of unification has necessitated an, as of yet, unarticulated assumption that the closer we get to the Truth, the more we must, by definition, speak "with one voice" to reflect that Truth. In order to hasten this journey, it has become necessary to requisition unanimity, no matter how far from "the Truth" we may estimate ourselves to be. Like putting the cart before the horse, this predetermining, prestructuring, and presaging illusion of Uni-Verse-ness-- resounding with One-Voiced-ness-- portends fulfillment of our expectation(s) to locate this Truth within an imagined singularity of mind. One of the most exciting aspects of "the postmodern era" has been an emphasis on bringing into the foreground such previously unquestioned assumptions about our understanding(s) of human experience, inviting inquiry into the nature of psychoanalytic thinking and theorizing.

This paper is intended as a contribution to the articulation of such underlying presuppositions and assumptions within psychoanalysis, with implications for theory, education, and practice. It is here suggested that the Enlightenment assumptions of Absolute Truth and Uni-Verse serve as partial solutions for our Terrors of existence in everyday life and that impulsion(s) toward singularity of thinking function as a necessary and powerful organizing force within institutionalized psychoanalysis, formalized psychoanalytic "training," and the education to be found in the Uni-Verse-ity. This paper also defines and considers a particular way of thinking, the paradigm of paradoxical intentions, which serves to maintain the illusion of ultimate omniscience of science and omnipotence of psychoanalysis at the cost of immobilizing innovative thinking and stifling creativity. A philosophical alternative for psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic education is offered, locating human experience within the context of Multi-Verse-ity which is simultaneously an essential aspect of the contextualizing potentialities within what I am calling Being-in-the-Present-on-the-Way-to-Knowing, or, Be¥Knowing. The ideas presented in this paper are thought to constitute but one Version among many which I would like to post for modern thinking and are intended as a contribution to the study of the psychoanalytic arts.

In this process of rethinking Uni-Verse-al-ity as a powerfully organizing underlying philosophy within institutionalized psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic education, it is hoped that this paper will contribute to re-Visioning psychoanalysis as Multi-Verse, situated at the threshold of philosophical inquiry into the humanities which welcomes unveiling the rich and kaleidoscopic ever-new-ness perpetually and continuously rediscovered within everyday living as well as within the consulting room. From this perspective of Multi-Verse-ity, psychoanalysis both contextualizes AND is contextualized by Multiple Versions of Uncertainty and Unknowing, creating opportunities for embracing the uniqueness of individual experience, without which - within this Version - psychoanalysis is paralyzed.


Uni-Verse and Uni-Verse-All Thinking
The word universe, as defined by Webster, is derived from the Latin uni (one, whole)+ versus (turned toward - or, WORTH) - literally, universe means "turned toward one or one worth." What is this universe, this ONE we are turning our attention toward, this ONE we value above all else? Spatially, when we think of universe, we think of a place we situate ourselves "inside of." We live "in" the universe which is thought to encompass and give validation to everything we are and all that we know. Conceptually, universe is also a unifying representation of an imagined sameness or oneness with an imagined totality perceived as something residing "within us."

What if we take a closer look at this Universe we situate ourselves within? A recent issue of National Geographic (April, 1997) published photographs taken by the Hubble telescope which had reportedly been directed toward "one of the emptiest parts of the sky." It traveled around 276 revolutions over ten consecutive days, taking a photograph at exactly the same place each time which, from the Hubble’s perspective, was the size of a grain of sand, and captured an image of hundreds of galaxies, each containing billions of stars, as far as the Hubble’s "EYE" could see.

Attempts to incorporate such vastness into a unifying concept such as Universe demonstrate how humankind has been working very hard to not see the complexities and multiplicities that both surround us and reside within us. Perceiving ourselves as part of an ideal Whole, a Uni-Verse that works in ways that are consistent, predictable, and "logical" has been integral to modern ideology in the United States as a powerful underlying set of assumptions following from Protestant (Puritanistic) Rationalism. Within this frame of reference, an individual’s life goals are organized around the moral imperative of adapting and conforming to an ideal image of the Almighty, the Creator of Life and Creator of the Uni-Verse.

Turning our lenses, so to speak, toward Versions of Uni-Verse situated within us, the methods we use to better understand our world themselves contain hidden assumptions. These underlying traditional ways of thinking are as transparent as the glass of a window pane through which phenomena are observed and studied. Although seemingly transparent, however, they frame our view and shape our vision of the world (Slife, 1997). According to Slife and Williams (1995), "Scientists may be so accustomed to seeing the world through their particular theoretical ‘glasses’ that they forget they are wearing them (p. 6)." When unidentified, the limitations and barriers of underlying assumptions threaten to create illusions of Truth and Certainty that are acted upon without regard to alternative points of view (see Bevan, 1991). One such set of assumptions - known as THE scientific method - was initiated by 17th century thinkers such as Bacon, Galileo, Newton, and Locke, and followed from the Enlightenment search for Uni-Verse-al laws and fundamental principles based on empirically derived theories about nature, human destiny, and the universe.

Research in psychology and psychoanalysis deriving from the Rationalist tradition and THE scientific method is primarily conducted within a methodology which is based on prestructured questions in search of answers that correspond one-to-one with an imagined "Absolute Truth." Results from such research are presented as discrete objective units of discovered objective "Knowledge" which then serve as unquestioned Truths for further inquiry. Thus, homogenized (Uni-) Versions of hypothetical individuals are conceptually created to further THE scientific method in the process of theory building. Research questions are generated through such homogenizing hidden assumptions in order to offer idealized approximations toward the "Truth" which is believed to be knowable - and the illusion of Uni-Verse-al One-Voiced-ness is further perpetuated.

This glorification of theory is an essential aspect of THE scientific method and modernist approaches to understanding human experience. Theory is cast as a representation of Truth which is exalted and offered as closest-to-(Absolute)-Truth. Slife (1996; 1997) points out that a theory is a universalized, atemporal conceptualization which, according to the Version presented here, presupposes relevance regardless of its location in time¥space, indifferent to changing contextual matrices and disregarding nuances, exceptions, and the inevitabilities of uniqueness. What is regarded as hypothesized "Truth" is expected to be verifiable regardless of context and in isolation from time¥space considerations.

While the intellectual movement of the Enlightenment era boasted a freedom from government and religious suppression and the right to free expression, the underlying philosophic premise- that the asking of the correct questions would lead to finding Truth- was nothing more than a relegation of Truth from a religious to a secular realm of discourse. The Terrors of existence (to be discussed further below) which gave rise to humankind’s elaborate construction of avenues to finding answers via magic, mysticism, and religious beliefs were likewise transported from religion and placed at the doorstep of science during the Enlightenment. Thus, science became revered as "God" and faith in THE scientific method generated acts of "godliness," with imagined protection from hidden Terrors and salvation being due rewards. Psychoanalysis as an intellectual movement was born within this era of "scientific" thinking, the search for Truth being its primary goal. This powerful ideological principle continues to reign supreme and can be observed as integral to current psychoanalytic thinking (we will return to this matter in a few moments).


Within this Version of Multi-Verse, four Terrors of Existence are identified: Terrors of Being, Terrors of Uncertainty, Terrors of Presence, and Terrors of Complexity. Pressing needs to protect against these Terrors have given rise to ways of thinking which console and protect at the expense of stifling creativity and compromising individuality.

Terrors of Being
The race to find Knowledge within the episteme of the modern era has given rise to the need for dichotomizing and categorizing experience. One manifestation of this is found in the idealization of the disease model within psychology and the social sciences in the United States. Within this model, the search for meaning in the here-and-now which unfolds from curiosity (wanting-to-Be) and from immersion in the time¥space of self¥other which requires temporal plurality rather than the singularity of objective time has become, itself, pathological. "Having Been" (something other than) and "Becoming" (something else) are exalted states while the state of Being (something one is) in the here-and-now - where there is no passage of time- is associated with nothingness, stillness, and Death. If time is not conceptualized as linearized and moving forward, flowing discretely in uniform units, the fear of nothingness which is equated experientially with dying becomes overwhelming. Within this model which equates objective Time with living, the expectation is to "get" the history, evaluate the subject, and formulate a treatment plan which is to be implemented toward specific, preset goals. Within this conceptualization, objective Time is authority, a silent and harsh ruler that permits no time¥space for Uncertainty which might otherwise permit the unfolding of here-and-now experience.

I have suggested elsewhere (Cruice, 1995) that although the unconscious as a construct has been characterized as time-less in much of the psychoanalytic literature, the aspect of mental life referred to as "the unconscious" actually contains a multiplicity of temporalities and, thus, may be more accurately described as time-full rather than time-less. The processes of simultaneity (of opposites), condensation (of anachronisms), and symbolization (parts representing wholes and vice versa) are actuated by alternative, nonlinear temporalities. The characterization of unconscious processes as time-less suggests that something is lacking within this unconscious aspect of psychic life but this notion is merely a satellite of the idealization of objective Time in psychoanalytic thinking, particularly ego psychology, which, in order to maintain a consistent logic according to the laws of THE scientific method, deems it necessary to make a very clear distinction between "conscious" and "unconscious" processes. 1 This exaltation of objective time as the ONE temporal Truth banishes recognition of the multiplicity of temporalities within lived experience and forecloses appreciation for the virtual inseparability of the linguistically, kinesthetically, and imaginally organized tapestral interweavings of "conscious" and "unconscious" mental processes.

The emphasis on "objective" time within psychoanalytic theorizing is created out of the need for a context that subverts "Being." Concepts such as transference, reconstruction, and repetition compulsion rely on "evidence" of factual events and an account of history as having actually occurred in the past. These conceptual devices have been powerful vehicles of distancing, displacing what is (in the Present) for what was (in the Past) and disregarding the here and now (Being-in-the-Present). Even when history is conceptualized as narrative or historicization, an integrated, smoothly flowing Version is often taken literally and the stops, the starts, and the lacunae of lived Being are detoured in the process. Created images of a repeated actual past offer protection against Terrors associated with the newness and the possibilities that are freed with each yet to be known newborn moment. When such illusions of actuality or eventuality are allowed circumvention through what I call Being-in-the-Present-on-the-Way-to-Knowing (Be¥Knowing), understanding his-story or her-story as it unfolds in the moment of Uncertainty and Unknowing brings the twosome of psychoanalysis onto the frontier of the as yet unknown present-future, opening the gateway to myriads of worlds of meaning.

Terrors of Uncertainty
To be in a state of Uncertainty within the episteme of the modern era is to be unenlightened, immoral, and subject to ex-communication. The search to find Truth has given rise to the illusion that we have already found answers to many of our questions. This illusion of having attained "Knowledge" is valued over "wanting to learn" and, within this Westernized way of thinking, posing questions "marks" an individual as "suspect" unless one offers question-marks under the guise of postulating answers - as in modern research and theory building. In this way, the risk of unveiling Uncertainty and Unknowing leads to a forced state of "Conclusionary Knowing," subverting a continued searching for understanding, fostering ignorance and masking it with arrogance. Thus, a perplexing paradox presents itself- idealization of what we "already know" forecloses inquiry into Uncertainty and the Unknown and, Unabashedly, fosters Ignorance.

It has been important within psychology and psychoanalysis conceptualized as science in the United States to have answers, to Know what the problems are, to anticipate and predict outcome with some amount of certitude, and to be certain that our methodology -whether it is considered research, education, manipulation of the environment, rehabilitation, or therapy - holds the key to understanding, if not the answers, to the problems posed. Professional organizations have become iconic pinnacles for institutionalizing jargon implemented for the purpose of proselytizing such imagined Certainty. Jargon is employed, I submit, not so much for the communication of individual ideas and contributions to understand the complexities of living, but, rather, to buttress the illusion that we are all speaking the same language. Challenges to traditional constructs and precepts are sometimes met with "openminded unresponsiveness" whereby anything goes but nothing happens. Within this Version, such unresponsiveness is understood as one response to the Terrors of Uncertainty and serves to guarantee organizational survival by adherence to "tradition," maintaining the illusion of certainty at the cost of devitalization and inertia. In this sense, speaking with no-Verse is the con-Verse of Uni-Verse which functions to un-Verse rather than re-Verse unquestioned traditional assumptions.

Independent thinkers who coin their own terms for phenomena they observe risk being compared to the prevailing theory, sometimes accused of counterfeit for manufacturing new words for old concepts, in the rush to be reconciled with already existing "Knowledge." The idea(l) - or the ideal - or the (i)deal - is that we must speak with one voice and agree on the terms, but, along with this, we pay the price of standing mute, silencing our own unique contributions, as well as turning a deaf ear toward the contributions of others.

Terrors of Presence
In consideration of the questions engendered through visiting the complexities of human experience, something we rarely give ourselves the opportunity to contemplate is that an ultimate state of "Knowing" is a fiction which can never be attained. Ironically, our greatest vulnerability as human-Beings is the Uncertainty which is associated with the ever-Presence of our Being (born) and Dying which are among the few things we can know for certain. Because such Presence (of dying) is an aspect of everyday living, psychoanalytic discourse is obliged to address the terrifying questions of mortality, although such questions are threatening because they bring us face to face with the imperative of our dying before we will ever begin to find answers or fully comprehend what we sense. Thus, the distilled elements of Uni-Verse-al laws and sterilized principles of THE scientific method become reassuring, partly by disguising Uncertainty and Complexity, partly by giving us a false sense of "Knowing." However, Presence (of our Being and Dying) which contextualizes the perpetuality of our Being (born) and our search for new and different questions, is sacrificed in this search for Truth.

That "Knowledge" can only be an illusion is painful. To be with the Uncertainty of one’s existence is to be staring wide-eyed into the face of Death. The compromise is to achieve certainty by the very Death one seeks to escape - Death of questions, Death of desire, and the Death of the unknown self. With its strong adherence to the medical (disease) model and its endorsement of pathologizing and Uni-Verse-All-izing jargonese, mainstream psychoanalysis in the United States represents a foreclosure of semiotic discovery and colludes with Death of inquiry while participating in a presumed "rediscovery" of supposed "Truth." Such renditions of "Truth" provide the foundations for institutionalized psychoanalysis and formalized "training" programs which sanction Uni-Verse-alizing and circumvent the arduous yet potentially rewarding task of trying to further articulate the Uncertainties and Complexities within the Presence of our Being.

Terrors of Complexity
Within the episteme of the modern era in Western culture, idealization of consciousness and elevation of cognition which collaborates with the fundamental principles of THE scientific method have masked Terrors of Complexity. The need for clearly defined, straight forward methodologies and prudence in interpretation of an observable, objective world has created the illusion of simplicity which is intolerant of multiplicity and complexity and has necessitated constraining the boundaries of Knowing. The need to Know the Truth has shaped our ideology such that we have come to believe that we are entitled to Know. By disavowing complexity, we have rearranged our perception of the world to make it more comprehensible and manageable at the cost of closing our eyes to a plethora of meanings and understandings which are closer to lived experience than the austere vision viewed from the narrow stationary lens of an episteme that overvalues THE scientific method and an imagined Uni-Verse-al Truth.


Along with the Enlightenment assumptions of an objectifiable Absolute Truth and Uni-Verse-al principles wherein "God" was no longer the sole proprietor of perfection, it became necessary to differentiate Absolute Truth from Arbitrary Truth which, in turn, necessitated a system of determining and differentiating what is considered Normal and what is considered Abnormal. The importance of establishing norms and Uni-Verse-Alls has become so integral to psychoanalytic thinking that it often goes unnoticed that we are peering through the window of a scientific method that lures us into using textbooks as templates and making sweeping generalizations which do more to conceal than reveal individual human experience(s).

To illustrate an example of this fervent search for scientific "Truth", Freud’s retreat from ideas which contributed to ushering in the postmodern era can be attributed, at least partly, to the need for the reassuring illusion of the certainty, the predictability, and the simplicity of THE scientific method. According to Barratt (1993), "there is a sense in which, from around 1914 until his death in 1939, he [Freud] systematically retreated from the radicalism of his own discourse (p. 5)." In the process of developing his ideas, Freud moved from searching for semiotic organizations to a search for (pre)structuring his ideas according to the rational-empiricist doctrine so powerfully attractive at the time. At the peak of his burgeoning career, he was fascinated with trying to articulate the sensory experiences of dreams, looking and listening for the endless ways pictures, feelings, and memories can be expressive of connections among meaningful psychic experiences which have been repressed (Freud, 1900).

Although he has been highly acclaimed for revising his theories of anxiety, the nature of repression, and for formalizing structural theory (Gay, 1989), from another perspective it might be considered that Freud injected himself with a strong dose of positivism following the outbreak of the war which fueled his redoubled efforts to align psychoanalysis with THE scientific method. These revisions were intended to answer questions born of this scientific method and pertained to issues of sequence and causal links (the question of which comes first, repression or anxiety?) and operationalized descriptions of variables and categorization of functions (the institutionalizing of psychic structure).

Such an oversimplified Version of the re-Visions in Freud’s theory does not do justice to the complexity and multiplicity of questions Freud was attempting to address nor to the socio-political context which framed the motivations for his work. Certainly Freud had a strong desire to be recognized as a scientist in a world that idealized THE scientific method of the Newtonian/Darwinian tradition which was the prevailing intellectual climate at the time. In his later years, ("The Question of a Weltanschauung"), Freud struggled with the relation of science to Truth and asserted that because the scientific method was the only means of verifying objectivity, as contrasted with religion, it is the only reliable way of knowing our world. The powerful underlying assumption was that the sources of Knowledge were to be found in observable, testable criteria and that alternative ways of knowing which include the entire realm of subjectively derived perceptions, sensations, and cognitions are unverifiable, hence suspect.

One of the foundations of THE scientific method (and from the perspective of Multi-Verse-ity, its most debilitating weakness) is its reliance on objective time and the need to situate the causal links in sequential ordering within a predetermined unit of time that by definition must be inclusive of the sequence of events to be measured within it. Through his avowed preference for the cold hard facts of the scientific method, Freud nearly disqualified the very data he had spent a lifetime examining, in the name of science. How could the subjective experiences of memories, dreams, and slips of the tongue be operationally defined and measured according to the laws of THE scientific method except as spoken words uttered in the here and now? If the uttered word is considered to be the only objectified representation of individual experience, then language is the only valid data within the analytic moment and it can only be presumed (which would be Unacceptable methodology according to THE scientific method) that there is a one-to-one correspondence with external events which cannot be observed and measured from within the hour. Within the moment, there can be no verifiable outside world, and THE scientific method, which requires objectively measured temporal linearity and distance, is rendered irrelevant and inapplicable.

The urgent and burning need to find simple, straightforward, absolute laws and sequentially ordered causalities to explain human behavior continued to be adopted and assimilated by psychoanalytic thinkers interested in the understanding of mental processes. Following the advent of ego psychology, categories of pathologies were developed, the diagnosing of mental disorders was exalted, and repair (and repair-enting) of the individual became the objective of psychoanalysis. Furthermore, a course had been plotted which was to explicate in minute detail the developmental processes which might account for such pathology. For over 70 years, this measuring, categorizing, and pathologizing has represented the mainstream of psychoanalytic inquiry in the United States which has remained loyal to the fundamental principles of THE scientific method.

The latest developments within psychoanalysis which have serious implications for professional practice are found in the catastrophic consequences which have derived quite naturally from such Uni-Verse-All-istic conceptualizing. The consequences I am referring to are the trends toward standards of practice across social science disciplines which are based, necessarily, on One-Voiced-ness and imagined singularity of thinking. The expectation that derives from categorizing symptoms and "research" results that justify certain methods and lengths of treatment for given diagnoses is that there are correct and incorrect ways of "treating" individuals. What follows from this is that, from the perspective of the One-Voiced-ness, it is unethical to "treat" anyone differently or even to offer alternative approaches to understanding the difficulties and problems presented by individuals who enter the consulting room.

One response to such trends within some psychoanalytic circles has been that psychoanalysis can accommodate to such standards (that is, become appropriated). Another response is that psychoanalysis proper is above these standards, operating within the "private sphere," and that the "dirty work" of reporting, record keeping, and other breaches of confidentiality should be left to agency workers (Bollas, 1995), rendering psychoanalysis unavailable to the underprivileged. While such positions may be adopted to guarantee survival of the organization and the profession, psychoanalysis as a way of thinking becomes undermined by socio-political concerns, sequestered and vulnerable to the quiet decay of irrelevancy. Such claims to privilege and exclusivity cannot exempt psychoanalysis from having contributed substantially to the prevailing emphasis on diagnosing within a disease model that, from a socio-cultural perspective, creates and justifies the very standards psychoanalysis claims to be above (See Paradigm of Paradoxical Intentions below).

Yet another response to such Uni-Verse-All trends, and one being increasingly discussed by a growing number of individuals nationally and internationally, is that psychoanalysis is philosophically, theoretically, and ethically incompatible with the health care industry and that psychoanalysis is more aptly situated within the arts, humanities and the anthropic sciences (Kavanaugh, 1996a). . .

Uni-Verse-All-ism and the Paradigm of Paradoxical Intention
At the socio-cultural level of discourse, it has been suggested that during the 1950’s and 60’s, the government encouraged fear of "the bomb" while simultaneously presenting the image of itself as protector of the populous (A. Cruice, 1996). It is believed that within psychoanalysis as professional practice, illusions of pathology are created and fostered while protection and "cure" are simultaneously offered. Thus, the paradox of mainstream psychoanalysis is that it Uni-Verse-All-izes pathology while re-presenting itself as the cure for that very same pathology it created through categorizing, pathologizing, and diagnosing. Ego psychology’s unified emphasis on diagnosis and ego assessment has been an important aspect of mainstream thinking within psychoanalysis and, paradoxically and unwittingly, may be an important validating technique creating the illusion of a demand for psychoanalytic "cures." Students of psychoanalysis are taught to assess ego functioning and object relations in the search for pathology and are expected to be prepared and armed with psychoanalytically informed diagnoses. Just as war keeps the economy going and the "masses" in control through fear of "the bomb," so, too, adherence to a disease model of mental functioning keeps the Truth of Psychoanalysis as necessarily and justifiably in power for the Go(o)d of the people. Within this paradigm of paradoxical intention, cure is offered by the same epistemological hand that creates the pathology. Thus, the Uni-Verse-al One-Voiced-ness of Absolutism is strengthened and the principle of supply and demand is balanced.

Knowledge as Commodity
With the rise of industrialization and capitalistic economy which were fueled by the promises of an objective and Uni-Verse-All Truth offered by THE scientific method, education turned from being a way of living and a personal search for greater awareness to a commodity which can be bought (and sold). Knowledge is now viewed as a possession owned by the One-Voice which imparts it. An underlying philosophy within most educational programs is that what is sold as Knowledge must conform to the program’s theoretical bias and the institute or training program begins to itself have views and a position which pervade the educational experience, yet are often overtly unidentified. Such reification of the Institute is one of the ramifications of this burning, incessant requisite that we must know Absolute Truth, that "our" Truth is exclusively paramount and that others who do not think as "we" do are "insufficiently informed and Un- Enlightened." This reification within institutional discourse is, in this sense, a deification, whereby the theoretical bias takes on a mystical, omnipotent, and omniscient quality, in a word, it becomes THE WORD which is written for the Go(o)d of the people.2

An interest in studying human experiences which emphasizes ethnic and cultural diversity has been a relatively recent trend within mainstream psychoanalysis in this country. Psychoanalytic concepts are applied for the purpose of understanding various cultures, literature, and the arts. While presenting the opportunity for tasting the riches offered by acknowledging the unfamiliar, these approaches often take the "Truth" of psychoanalysis as a given, to be offered like a charitable contribution as part of a mission to inform and educate the unenlightened. Thus, the Uni-Verse-alizing of institutionalized psychoanalysis is strengthened. Another way of thinking from the perspective of Re-Verse-ing Uni-Verse is one which views psychoanalysis as both contextualized by and encompassing multiple Versions of unique experience, each individual seen as creating a culture and even a psychoanalysis exclusively her or his own. Within this Version, artistic and literary expressions inform psychoanalysis conceptualized as BEING Multi-Verse, generating questions to enrich Uncertainty and providing opportunities to learn from what is Unknown rather than to demonstrate what psychoanalysis purports to Know.


The contextualizing conceptualizing of Multi-Verse-ity is offered as a way of thinking, one Version amongst many, and an approach to considering the multitudinous Versions of experience which are individualistically determined and organized linguistically, kinesthetically, and imaginally in concert with the perceiving and experiencing Other. Multi-Verse-ity is not a theory - although questions, speculations, and ideas abound within it; it is not a discipline - although it requires vigorous application of a different set of assumptions and different ways of thinking; it is not a location - even though we may easily be tempted to try and find it a home. Multi-Verse-ity is an attitude, a philosophy, a state of Being that has been, so far, suspect in Western culture. Given the idea that Uni-Verse-All-ism and Uni-Verse-ity are idealized pretexts, illusions created out of the need for pro-tection from the epistemological text of the Terrors of Existence as described above, the idea of Multi-Verse-ity is offered as con-textualized picture of an alternative way of thinking which is based on very different underlying assumptions. These underlying assumptions within Multi-Verse-ity provide for a multiplicity of certainties about a multitude of Uncertainties. It presumes that whenever we think we Know, we are certainly attesting to our discomfort with all that we do not know, calling into question the very Knowledge we think we have.

The underlying assumption of a multiplicity of certainties about a multitude of Uncertainties calls for re-Vision of some very familiar ways of thinking. It suggests that we shift from an emphasis on finding answers to an emphasis on listening to and further developing our most difficult questions. It calls for abandoning "standards of treatment" and the institutional discourse of treatment plans, "managing care," and other methods of enacting the Uni-Verse-All-izing of human experience. It means setting aside notions of diagnosis, pathology, and the masterful tricks of jargonese that distance and disguise while portending to formulate and illuminate. It challenges us to search each moment in the consulting room for words that fit the experience, the interaction, and the communication of psychoanalysis, each individual having his/her own unique philosophy/theory to be understood only within the context of that person’s Being. Different voices bring new questions for further inquiry and never ending re-Visions of our own Versions of psychoanalysis. The Version presented here calls for investigation of a radically different relationship to language than we are accustomed to which includes respect for the personalized meanings that are both revealed and concealed in an individual’s choice of words as well as a commitment to searching for new worlds of pictures and movements in our attempts to grasp and elucidate experience as best we can. This Version requires taking a long hard look at ways we might blind ourselves with pre-conceived Versions of our image of Other in the name of science, theory, and Truth.

Being-in-the-Present-on-the-Way-to-Knowing is the underlying philosophy of Multi-Verse-ity. For (Co)Be-Knowers within the Multi-Verse-ity, each captured moment may be likened to the stroke of a brush on the artist’s canvas, a note written on the musician’s score, a movement in the choreographer’s dance, parts of a whole which also contain within them the essence of the totality and all organized through an internal essence of Being that is lived and known yet all the while on the brink of Uncertainty.


To summarize, the predominance of Uni-Verse-All conceptualizing within the modern era which has been fueled by THE scientific method and the search for Absolute Truth is considered to be a powerful organizing presence within institutionalized psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic education. A pervasive underlying philosophy of the modern episteme is that we must strive to Know the Truth and to speak with one voice in this Uni-Verse to protect and distract us from the Terrors of Existence which are characterized by Uncertainty and Complexity. It is suggested that Being-in-the-Present-on-the-Way-to-Knowing (Be¥Knowing) poses opportunities for re-Verse-ing Uni-Verse and re-Vision-ing psychoanalysis as Multi-Verse which welcomes and respects multitude(s) of meanings and understandings and calls into question the Uni-Verse-al-ity(s) in our current thinking.

The modernist search for predictability and the illusion of certainty sanctioned by THE scientific method mask the Terrors associated with knowing that we will never know the answers to our otherwise most passionate questions, leaving us with the picture of a dry skeleton of living, a nearly unrecognizable shape of our existence, moving to the muted tones of hollow notes, and able to "dance" only with many strings attached. The opulence associated with moving to the contextualizing experience of Uncertainty within our own burgeoning thoughts, perceptions, and ideas is extracted within this quest for Absolute Truth. Curiosity, questioning, and self¥other discovery are dehydrated in the process, and being invited to enter the private world of Other becomes little more than psychic autopsy.

 1 The confusion arising from discussions and debates about "unconscious ego functions" and "conflict free sphere of the ego" stem from the underlying assumptions and idealizations having to do with objective time and identifiable processes that can only be observed and measured within linear temporalities.

2 Kavanaugh (1996b) has suggested that such deification is embedded within the Codes of the Culture in westernized thinking and has been an integral contextualized aspect of the modern episteme.


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Dr. Cruice received her undergraduate degree in psychology and sociology from Oakland University in 1975, her Master's degree in psychology/marriage counseling from the University of Detroit in 1978, and her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of Detroit Mercy in 1995.  She is currently serving as President of the Michigan Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology (MSPP) and is a member of the Academy for the Study of the Psychoanalytic Arts.  As a member of the International Federation for Psychoanalytic Education, she has been on faculty for the 1997 and 1998  annual conferences.  She is also a member of the Division of Psychoanalysis and the Division of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology of the American Psychological Association.   Dr. Cruice is currently on the teaching faculty at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, has served as adjunct teaching faculty at the University of Detroit Mercy and is in private practice of psychoanlaysis in Southfield, Michigan, where she also offers individual and group consultation to those interested in further study from the perspective of Multi-Verse-ity.

Office:  18400 W. Twelve Mile Rd.
            Southfield, Michigan  48076

Telephone:  (248) 557-4067