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Question-ing Bodies of Knowledges and Mark-ing Psychoanalysis as Uncertainty

? . . .Question-ing Bodies of Knowledges
Mark-ing Psychoanalysis as Uncertainty. . . ? © 1999


by Gloria E. Cruice, Ph.D.


By attempting to reduce Uncertainty in the science of the modern era, psychoanalytic Bodies of Knowledge have unwittingly closed paths of inquiry that might have otherwise led to further understanding human experiencing.  In the process of rethinking psychoanalysis, this paper poses questions originating in the "new sciences" about underlying assumptions in our thinking and practicing.  Opportunities are discussed for new versions of psychoanalysis in the third millennium that are marked by and defined within the very Uncertainty that we have tried for so long to reduce.

These opportunities include: resituating the domain of psychoanalytic thinking from islands of Uni-Verse-All theory to intercontextualing processes in a "participative Multi-Verse;" rethinking underlying assumptions grounded in the politics of knowledge, suggesting a metalanguage of responsibility rather than authority; and conceptualizing the role of language and semiotics in appreciating the Multi-Verse-ities of human experience from within a socio-cultural context.

This paper was presented at the Michigan Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology's monthly meeting held on April 11, 1999.  it is a version of the paper presented to the International Federation for Psychoanalytic Education at their 9th Annual Conference held in November, 1998 in Ann Arbor, Michigan entitled "Question-ing Bodies of Knowledge and Mark-ing the Anatomy of Uncertainty."


The survival of psychoanalysis as a way of understanding human experiences depends on vigorous re-thinking of how we as psychoanalytic thinkers conceptualize the purposes, meanings, and contexts of our endeavors. Such re-thinking necessitates comprehensive inquiry into the philosophical underpinnings of traditional psychoanalytic theorizing and practicing. By situating psychoanalysis among Bodies of Knowledges that have recently re-defined the parameters of scientific investigation, this presentation identifies some of these underlying assumptions, describes how such hidden assumptions have shaped psychoanalytic thinking in the modern era, and suggests an alternative way of conceptualizing psychoanalysis as we enter the third millenium. In this process of re-thinking, I would like to invite you to join me in posing questions along the way, questions which I am hoping we can continue to formulate and elaborate upon.

• • •

A curious paradox unfolds at the dawning of the Information Era: with more information on the horizon than ever before, we have entered an age filled with increasingly complex arrangements of intellectual and sensory stimuli and Bodies of Knowledges which are accompanied by equally complex constellations of Uncertainties. Whether one’s field of study is in the physical sciences, the social sciences, or the humanities, the more we come to "Know," the more is learned about what is not known or yet to be learned, and increasingly diverse and controversial questions are raised in the process. We are faced with the challenge of re-thinking long-held cherished assumptions within and about Bodies of Knowledges that have been previously unquestioned. In this process of re-examining current ways of thinking, we are invited to examine our relationships with a multitude of Uncertainties that we have worked so hard to describe, explain, and eradicate.

Recent discoveries in the natural sciences have been made through processes of setting aside traditional methods and modes of thinking which were found to be inadequate for the purpose of understanding observed phenomena. Quantum physics is an example of a Body of Knowledge that has found Newtonian science to be unable to explain certain phenomena, presenting challenges to current notions of time, space, and matter (Ripkin, 1987; Wheatley, 1992). Chaos theory in mathematics, while based on Newtonian principles, has recognized the limitations of a traditional Cartesian science that has tried to understand nature by identifying and examining its parts. New conceptualizations deriving from chaos theory emphasize contextualism which appreciates the wholeness of nature and the complexity of its processes (Wheatley, 1992). Advances in astronomy have necessitated a shift in thinking about the nature of the universe. Concepts of a dying, energy-depleting universe have given way to notions of an expanding universe that consumes and creates energy, perpetually increasing in complexity (Ripkin, 1987). In the field of biology, the concept of autopoiesis describes structure-maintaining processes of self renewal in living systems and argues that, rather than viewing systems as acquiring information from the environment, changes in systems are best explained as results of interactions with the environment (Devlin, 1997; Wheatley, 1992). Such discoveries have called into question the very assumptions and methods which for more than two hundred years have shaped Bodies of Knowledges and scientists are becoming more familiar with Uncertainty in the process.

QUESTION: Is it possible that, in attempting to reduce Uncertainty through systems of reason and logic, we as psychoanalytic thinkers have unwittingly foreclosed alternative paths to understanding and further developing questions about human experiences?

This paper considers different relationships with Uncertainty than we as psychoanalytic thinkers have been accustomed to in our traditional scientific methodology and psychoanalytic theory building. Among the many opportunities these new relationships offer, this paper discusses the following: re-situating the domain of psychoanalytic thinking  from islands of Uni-Verse-All theory to the intercontextualizing processes of a nonpredictable "participative Multi-Verse;" re-thinking underlying philosophical assumptions grounded in the politics of Knowledge, suggesting a metalanguage of responsibility rather than authority; and re-conceptualizing the role of language and semiotics in comprehending and appreciating the Multi-Verse-ities of human experiences from within a socio-cultural context. In this process of questioning, we stand at the threshold of discovering many new and different Uncertainties, places we might even desire to be as contemporary psychoanalytic thinkers.


Mainstream psychoanalytic theorizing has been significantly influenced by two major premises, Absolute Truth and linear time, each of which have been prevalent within modernist scientific discourse. The illusion of Absolute Truth originates from the Rationalist tradition of the modern episteme (Cruice, 1997). From the perspective of this world view, psychoanalysis as Bodies of Knowledge has pursued the idealized state of Knowing by searching for answers in the form of theoretical constructs, maps of the psyche, and diagnostic categorizing. These answers represent approximations of a Truth which is thought to be unquestioned, universal, and (eventually) Know-able (see Berger, 1995; Rabin, 1995). Uncertainty is systematically conceptualized and responded to as a temporary aberration and an unwelcome presence, equated with not Knowing and associated with Ignorance within the dualism of this modernist Rationality.

Another organizing premise within modernist scientific discourse which has profoundly influenced psychoanalytic theorizing and attitudes about Uncertainty is the concept of linear time and its assumptions of sequence and causality (see Slife, 1993). The assumption of the importance of sequential ordering implies that there is a beginning and, perhaps more significantly, an ending - as in an end result - to be reached. Thus, reaching a conclusion is postulated a priori in any process of inquiry within this modernist model. Notions of sequence also serve to simplify the "data" by directing attention toward one "event" at a time. Within the scientific tradition of the modern era, sequentiality is necessary for the determination of causality, the idea that present events are influenced and created by previous events in a temporally linear direction that proceeds from past to present to future. Both assumptions (sequentiality and causality, that is) have been important for psychoanalysis as a scientific Body of Knowledge that seeks to minimize Uncertainty by emphasizing "progress" and the necessity of predicting, curing, and striving to reach final conclusions about human nature (Absolute Truth).

Philosophically, fascinating questions about the nature and meaning of knowledge have puzzled and intrigued thinkers for thousands of years. Questions such as these have been posed: Is knowledge what we empirically perceive and sense about the external world? Is knowledge defined as rational thinking and intellect? Are there ways of knowing that are outside the realm of consciousness? Is intuition a form of knowledge? Is there a distinction between Knower and that which is Known? . . . . .

The idea that Knowledge is objective and external to the Knower has been a powerful underlying assumption within the episteme of the modern era, an aspect of contemporary psychoanalytic thought which lends itself to a re-examination of Uncertainty. Of course, discussions focusing on the distinctions between subject and object could only develop within a discourse of dualism and the imperative of differentiating Knower as "subject" from Knowledge as "object ." According to this perspective, if one speaks, one speaks about something of which one is to be certain. If otherwise, why speak at all? It is considered profane to speak from within an Uncertain knowing of Being which sustains curiosity and desire, or from within a known Uncertainty of Dying which poses the underlying threat of Death to Knowing.

QUESTION: Is it even comprehensible within this western empirico-rational discourse to conceptualize not distinguishing between the One who is On-the-way-to-Knowing and the Knowing that one is On-the-way-to-Being?

The imperative of Knowing has been a powerful underlying force in the modern era. Science, Truth, and the acquisition of Knowledge are signifiers of the Phallus in the politics of Knowledge, being associated with authority, power, and domination. Within this world view, Certainty is Phallus while Uncertainty is Other-than-Phallus, the place where Phallus can not and would not ever be. From the perspective of this prevailing ideology, the myth of duality of sexes is punctuated by disavowal of Uncertainty by Bodies of Knowledges, and completeness of sexed bodies is marked through the authority of Knowing. Uncertainty is epistemologically conceptualized as a gap in Knowledge, to be filled in by furthering the exercise of logico-rational thinking and metaphysical construct building.

QUESTION: Rather than being a "lack" of Knowledge (as in not Knowing), could we consider Uncertainty as marking space(s) for questions, ideas, and awakenings on Bodies of Knowledges that are not permitted within a world view dominated by the need to Know and the search for Truth?

Historically, classical psychoanalytic theory has held that Uncertainty and not Knowing are associated with repression, an integral aspect of symptom formation. The need to not Know one’s natural self, riddled with impulse and primitive drives, is thought to be the etiology of repression. Such "not Knowing," which develops as a result of enculturation, is likely to result in "symptoms" which must be "cured" in the traditional psychoanalytic procedure where removing the barriers of repression leading to Knowing oneself is the sole objective. Psychoanalysis, conceptualized as "treatment" leading to "cure" of "dis-ease," is organized around the idea that Knowing one’s unconscious (wishes, fears, conflicts, and defenses) brings mastery and control of impulses which are necessary for "normal" functioning and freedom from pathology. Thus, psychoanalysis is viewed as a vehicle to Knowing, an implicit and defining assumption being that not Knowing is suspect and associated with "dis-order" and "ab-normality." This conceptualization of repression suggests that an internal representation of an event having occurred in the past is "forgotten," and that an ultimate state of optimal Knowing such events and distinguishing them from their respective internalized versions is possible. Furthermore, some measure of prohibition or fear can be identified as an obstacle to "remembering," leading to the reasonable, rational, and responsible state of Knowing.

QUESTIONS: Is it possible to conceptualize this obligatory state of Knowing as a sort of repression of states of Uncertainty about the ever changing present that is on-the-way-to-the-future? Is it perhaps more palatable to rely on theoretical generalizations about human nature than to risk the discomforts associated with realizing that we cannot in actuality either pre-dict or dict-ate the outcome of our endeavors?

• • •


As a temporal being, a body moving through space, I enter a field of rolling knolls and walk through wildflowers that cover the surface of the earth like a cozy blanket. Along the way, my desire overcomes me and I reach for pieces of this lovely universe of blossoms, carefully severing the stems and separating the blooms from their roots. I arrange the flowers in a vase and nourish them with water. I re-morse over the oppression I exercised as I marvel at the beauty of the buds I have captured. Wildflowers in the vase are not wildflowers in the field, although I pretend it makes no difference. I have structured Nature’s creations according to MY plan - SHE had arranged them otherwise. I try to not think about how the act of my re-arranging has changed the very landscape I have tried to incorporate into my Being.

Bodies of Knowledges are similarly arranged according to the plans of seekers of Knowledge. These arrangements are thought to be samples of "the way things are" rather than organizations created by the observer - and we pretend that we have captured nature in its "true" state. It has become important in organized fields of study to regard the act of arranging as being independent of the phenomena observed, separate from the experience of the arrangers, and distinct from the contextual surround which is viewed as being impervious to the act of arranging.

The physicist John Archibald Wheeler, a proponent of the concept of "participative universe," claims that we actively participate in structuring our realities, creating the present as well as the past through our observations. From this perspective, Margaret Wheatley (1992) states, "When we choose to experiment for one aspect, we lose our ability to see any others. Every act of measurement loses more information than it obtains, closing the box irretrievably and forever on other possibilities" (p. 63).

QUESTIONS: Could it be that each act of measuring or arranging is a kind of burial conducted by Bodies of Knowledges? And are we choosing to celebrate the post mortem findings without eulogizing Uncertainties and questions which are no longer available to us?


As Bodies of Knowledge, psychoanalysis in the Information Era has had to confront challenging questions having to do with relevancy, applicability, and efficacy in a rapidly changing marketplace of ideas. Consideration of such questions from a modernist scientific perspective has relied on possession of practical knowledge which is immediately available for technical application. As a result, brief intervention techniques, crisis management, and a focus on "medically necessary" treatment have become the "tools of the trade" for many psychoanalysts and psychotherapists in the United States. In the trade (or in the trade-off), many practitioners have adopted a reactive position in this socio-economic climate of "survival of the quickest" to try and meet the demands of the insurance and health care industries.

From the perspective of the current emphasis on practicality, immediacy, and technology in professional practice, Uncertainty has been regarded as an unwelcome detour on the road to Truth. Paths of inquiry about an individual’s experience are barricaded by diagnostic closure at the very outset of such endeavors. Decisions about frequency and number of meetings are often pre-scribed as an outcome of such diagnostic door slamming rather than being mutually decided, with both (or all) individuals involved participating in the process and taking responsibility for establishing the arrangements.

QUESTION: Are such mechanistic principles of practice contributing to the death of psychoanalysis as a way of thinking and practicing, and the extinction of psychoanalysis as Bodies of Knowledge?


One way of understanding the pertinacious searching for Truth so characteristic of the modern era is to consider how important it is that in our quest for Knowledge which is equated with power, we are paradoxically disavowing our need to not "know," our need to conceal Terrors of existence and the inevitability of Dying. Jeremy Rifkin (1987) points out that materialism and the emphasis on progress in the modern era "is our ticket to immortality, our way of cheating death, of overcoming a fleeting existence" (p.142). The need to attain Knowledge, that is, to be sciential and to have science on the one hand, and the need to disavow Knowledge of our mortality on the other hand, are thus in direct conflict. Uncertainty has offered promising positions of compromise to traditional psychoanalysis as scientific Bodies of Knowledge which must also silently conceal hidden Terrors of Knowing. This Version of such positions of compromise will consider the perspective of the search for Truth and the need to Know, the perspective of existential disavowal and the need to not Know, and the perspective of curiosity, desire, and the need for questioning.

Regarded as a remedy to cure symptoms associated with the disease of not Knowing, Uncertainty is like a medicinal treatment, administered temporarily for therapeutic effects. If not prescribed in the proper doses, Uncertainty is potentially toxic, leading to states of confusion and chaos. From this perspective, Uncertainty is a controlled medicinal substance which must return a Body to its healthy state of Knowing, thereby justifying the existence of professionals who must regulate and manage Uncertainty. After all, what need does a healthy and robust scientific (or scient) Body of Knowledge have for maintained doses of Uncertainty? And without the Certainty of Knowing to market and sell, how else could psychoanalytic practitioners charge a fee?

From the perspective of a need to not Know, Uncertainty is like a protective cloak which conceals the "truth" of mortification and disguises the threat of mortality. Beneath the veils of Uncertainty, desire for questioning and learning is girdled by needs to disavow naked innocence which might otherwise lead to curiosity and the threat of exposing Knowledge of Death. In this temporary robed state of Uncertainty, to be with "not Knowing" keeps us eternally seeking the Truth which is omnipotent, infinite, and omniscient (or omni-scient), disguising Terrors of Death. Therefore, a sacred and virtuous Body of Knowledge surrounds itself with immortal Uncertainty while sacrificing curiosity and desire in order to guarantee everlasting life. Would it not be considered obscene or even blasphemous to claim the place of Certainty and Truth, rejecting the precious "gift" of everlasting life? And if it weren’t for unifying psychoanalytic belief systems, overarching theoretical principles, and icons of jargon, how else could psychoanalytic professionals build the sanctuaries of scientific psychoanalytic organizations to house and protect innocent believers?

Within the context of the search for Truth which has traditionally characterized scientific inquiry in the modern era, curiosity, desire, and wanting to learn are temporary states, like thirst or hunger. Questions arising from Uncertainty are cultivated as necessary substances to be ingested and purged, potentially and temporarily nutritious, yet decomposable. Questions are processed and packaged in educational institutions and are posed as "food for thought," providing the nourishment needed to sustain the development and growth of Bodies of Knowledges, and digested Uncertainties become nothing more than unwanted waste products. A conscientious (or con-scient) and respectful student Body goes forth bearing the fruits of Knowledge, leaving Uncertainty behind to ferment in the classrooms and corridors of the Uni-Verse-ity. After all, what use has an educated and mature Body of Knowledge for the continuous flow of nourishing questions that are associated with the curiosities, longings and desires of youth? And without the socio-political hierarchies determined by "degree"of Knowledge and amount of education achieved, how else could psychoanalysts justify the establishment of psychoanalytic training institutes that, from a business perspective, can only survive by appropriating the distinction between student and Training Analyst?

By contrast, it is here suggested that Uncertainty constitutes the very essence of psychoanalysis as Bodies of Knowledge. Uncertainty as the living flesh of psychoanalysis is sustained and nourished by curiosity and questions which bring life to psychoanalytic thinking and Being. Psychoanalysis conceptualized as the embodiment of Uncertainty re-situates inquiry from Bodies of Theory to the participative Multi-Verse where human experience is intercontextualizing rather than being pre-scribed, pre-authorized, or pre-determined according to Science and the prevailing (or pre-veil-ing) politics of Knowledge. Within the participative Multi-Verse, both questions and answers can only be conceived, articulated, and understood within the context of the enunciating subject’s Being.


The established order of modern science, replete with dichotomous determinations and binary categorizations, serves to organize and structure seemingly disparate elements of an objective world that is separate and distinct from the observer. The "new sciences" which developed primarily from discoveries made by quantum physics, have brought to awareness the astounding implications of a contextualizing philosophy that we are organized by our world as much as we organize it (Lotman, 1990; Wheatley, 1992). Dichotomies, binaries and cause-effect sequences are insufficient to explain much of the phenomena we observe in the natural world while multiplicities, simultaneities, and cosmic rhythms bring new shapes to Bodies of Knowledges. Theories and constructs offered by modern Science can no longer make either current or eventual claims to Truth as the universe is increasingly being understood as incomprehensively complex, evolving and ever changing in unpredictable ways.

Despite such new waves of intellectual awareness, mainstream psychoanalysis in the United States holds steadfastly to time-worn theories and constructs such as repression, transference, and reconstruction which were developed within the modernist scientific tradition. Of greater significance, however, is that the prevailing philosophical assumptions in the politics of Knowledge born of the Enlightenment era are well-preserved in the so-called "paradigm shifts" within contemporary psychoanalytic discourse (Rabin, 1995). The "new" relational models such as social constructivism (Gill, 1995; Hoffman, 1993) and intersubjectivity (Stern, 1985; Stolorow, Brandchaft, & Atwood, 1987) perpetuate the dualistic emphasis on domination of the subject and the dialectics of Rationalism. Grounded in dynamic systems theory, intersubjective approaches purportedly address some of the problems of dualism but the analyst’s authority is maintained by virtue of the psychoanalytic dyad being viewed as a corrective or ameliorative experience (Stolorow, 1997; Stolorow, et. al., 1987). From this perspective, the analyst possesses reparative Knowledge to offer the analysand who is viewed as developmentally deficient or lacking in Knowledge of Self.

These models offer alternative views of subjectivity within the psychoanalytic process in an alluring language of mutuality which on the surface presents the illusion of contextualism and egalitarianism. However, these deficit models perpetuate the positivistic-objectivist approach to Knowing through empirically-derived a priori assumptions about pathology, influence, the need for "help," and authority that serve to pre-conceptualize and pre-organize human encounters. The focus is shifted from intra-psychic to inter-psychic perspectives and influence over the Other remains an unquestioned premise in these relational models (see Slavin, 1998), punctuating the myth of authority in the psychoanalytic encounter. Whether or not such influence is seen as mutually determined, the minimization of theory together with the image of Analyst as being in an advantaged position marks an insidious turn in the politics of psychoanalytic Knowledge within the modernism of the so-called "post-modern era."

QUESTION: Is it possible that within these contemporary psychoanalytic paradigm shifts, the power of Knowing is wrested from Theory only to be placed firmly in the grasp of the Analyst who now maintains a stealthy and, thus, unquestioned authority over the Other? 1    


According to Elizabeth Grosz (1995), changing representations of subjectivity are associated historically with changes in representations of time and space. Might we also consider that socio-cultural shifts in conceptions of time and space also correspond in turn with shifts in prevailing modes of signification and semiotics? It is here suggested that the intercontextualizing relationships among time-space-subjectivity-semiotics are characteristic of the ever-changing processes in a "participative Multi-Verse."

In ancient civilizations, time was relativized to conform to events, organized to fit human experiences of the world. Cyclical views of time predominated along with the belief that events, as time itself, were destined to repeat themselves (Slife, 1993). Along with cyclical notions of time, mythical thinking was based on the use of the symbol as a predominant mode of thought which, according to Julia Kristeva (1980), functioned both to mark universals and to resolve contradictions by concealment. Subjectivity, then, was characterized by a collective consciousness, with notions of repetition and rebirth being mediated through associations with deities which were the arbiters of human virtue and corruption.

During medieval times through the fifteenth century, the symbol began to be gradually superceded by the sign as the predominant mode of semiotics (Kristeva, 1980; see Lotman, 1990). This transformation of symbol to sign coincided with the blossoming of art and literature in the Renaissance period and culminated with the Enlightenment developments in physics, mathematics, and astronomy. During this period, the increasing predominance of the sign was a result of the need for representations that corresponded more directly with the world as objectively conceived and conventionally perceived. Subjectivity from this new socio-cultural world view influenced by Cartesian dualism came to be characterized as distinct from objectivity. The emerging predominance of the concept of time as linear and directional also contributed to shifts in representations of subjectivity. Beginnings and endings, birth and death, now had to be reconciled through significations such as those offered by Judeo-Christian ideology which were not conceivable or even necessary with notions of time as cyclical. Such new significations included the need to create heaven on earth and systems of rewards and punishments which contributed to the emerging emphasis on materialism and progress in western culture (Rifkin, 1987; Slife, 1993). 

The Information Era and the paradigm shifts now underway in the natural sciences have introduced us to different conceptualizations of time, space, semiotics, and subjectivity. Time-space concepts of sequence, causality, and universalism are being superceded by synchronous rhythms, simultaneous processes, and contextual matrices in the parlance of the natural sciences. We now live in a multiplicity of temporalities which are neither cyclical nor linear but, perhaps, best characterized as spiral or even double helix (Rifkin, 1987). As for semiotics, having moved from an emphasis on universal meanings as in the symbol of ancient times to an emphasis on referenced objectivity with the predominance of signs in the modern era, we are facing a semiotic shift characterized by mutually in-forming and context-forming significations.   Conceptualizations of subjectivity, characterized by connectedness with the universe in ancient times, shifted to an isolated subjectivity of individualism in the modern era. It is proposed that we are currently in the midst of a shift toward conceptualizing subjectivity in terms of an intercontextualizing process of mutual interactions with our own (self-constructed) environments.

From a socio-cultural perspective, shifts in predominant ways of thinking as just described suggest different interpretations which are currently being debated by contemporary thinkers. A dominant world view increasingly confronted with spatial and temporal multiplicities might argue an interpretation of contextualism as being radically deterministic. Rifkin (1987) quotes a student of the computer age responding to the question of whether the human mind is "anything more than the feeling of having one," by saying, "You have to stop talking about your mind as though it were thinking. It’s not. It’s just doing." Even if we think we are deciding things, we are not, according to this interpretation (which is an extension of modernist thinking), de-scribing a pre-ordered universe and a mechanistic and nonparticipating subject.

Another very different interpretation, and one that is growing by leaps and bounds, is that the universe is continually evolving, becoming and being re-created in the process. The intercontextuality of Multi-Verse-ity is based on this interpretation, characterizing human experience as a continual process of making choices in the face of Uncertainty, de-scribing a thinking, participating subject.  Implications of this second interpretation for psychoanalysis include the idea that we have choices with regard to the direction in which we will go, including the choice of having a choice or not.

QUESTION: If we maintain that we must continue to model our psychoanalyses according to the principles of dualism and the politics of Knowledge, are we perhaps unwittingly allowing ourselves to be defined by the dominant modernist socio-cultural climate of the past two hundred years rather than re-defining our own contemporary psychoanalyses?

Given all that we are learning from the discoveries of the "new sciences," contemporary psychoanalysis is hard pressed to relinquish its claim to authority based on the prerogatives of acquired Knowledge and the prohibitions against Uncertainty.   Based on new concepts of time, space, semiotics, and subjectivity is the perspective of psychoanalysis as . . ."participative Multi-Verse" where ways of thinking and practicing make significant shifts. Uncertainty is no longer viewed as an emptiness or an impoverishment disavowed and alienated by a psychoanalysis of authority and power. Rather, Uncertainty is now a fullness and richness which is the flesh, the very essence of a psychoanalysis of mutual responsibility and participation.  From this new perspective, Uncertainty is not a temporary state or a lack, but, rather, an ongoing process of questioning, and an evolving process of Being-in-the-Present-on-the-Way-to-Knowing.


In the prevailing psychoanalytic Bodies of Knowledge, boundaries are established through dichotomous categorizations such as conscious-unconscious or self-other to de-marc-ate aspects of self experience. Distinctions are thus established between "objective" and "intrapsychic" realities by the Analyst who is rendered authority as arbiter of Reality and Truth. Such distinctions crystallize the separation, the boundary between inside and outside, and marking Bodies with piercing Questions is frowned upon as representing mutilation of the sacred Bodies of Knowledges in the established order. To live IN the boundaries where Uncertainty thrives is to penetrate the skin that contains us - which is forbidden.

Moving into the epidermal space occupied by the boundaries between word-objects such as conscious-unconscious and self-other that have been established as necessary by the prevailing ideology of logic, reason, and objectivity, beginnings and endings do not exist. Being inside the boundary itself, empirically derived dichotomies and categories have no meaning. Inside each word, phrase, and gesture, are distinctly personal meanings that mark both questions and answers about the enunciating subject’s Being. Helene Cixous (1993) suggests that anonymity, or "the loss of a name," is associated with death and must be repressed "at any price" (p. 130). Boundaries, borders, and words, are thus constructed to give experiences names, to facilitate having something to hold onto, and to mark one’s existence. By moving inside each word-boundary itself, it becomes apparent that experiences structure languages as much as languages continuously structure and re-structure experiences. Psychoanalysis as Uncertainty resides in this unbounded space within boundaries. One place of Uncertainty called Being-in-the-Present-on-the-Way-to-Knowing invites moving with and into each written and spoken word, every gesture and expression, spaces to be entered, lived, and re-signified in psychoanalytic encounters.


As the flesh of psychoanalysis, Uncertainty is situated within the space defined as boundary where Bodies of Knowledges are not recognized as such. Psychoanalysis defined as Uncertainty can never Be and at the same time always Is. Psychoanalysis lives inside the mark, the punctuation that marks questions. It is in the overlapping time&space of Uncertainty that we find the unarticulated questioning marks of punctures and paintings at the surface of the flesh of Bodies of Knowledges. Such markings are like corporeal body piercings and tattooings that symbolize the struggles inherent in questioning and challenging traditionally powerful and dominant world views while protecting such question marks from being absorbed by the established order and disappearing. These marks might take the form of scar-lined spaces permanently inscribed to contain the earring-posts of theoretical adornments and institutionalized "positions." Iconic word-objects such as Drive, Ego, Object, and Self (see Kavanaugh, 1996; 1998) are painted on versions of psychoanalysis as Bodies of Knowledge, concretized markings that maintain stability over time. Just as the unique Body languages of markings and piercings "speak" an individual as they are "spoken" by and through that individual, so, too, the markings of such word-objects on psychoanalytic Bodies "speak" traditional psychoanalysis even as they are "spoken" by this psychoanalysis.

The "new" psychoanalysis that speaks Uncertainty provides opportunities for posing questions which lead to new ways of thinking about the barriers of rigid theories and unquestioned underlying assumptions. The nurturing tension between Uncertainty and curiosity in this "new" psychoanalysis provides sustenance for such questions which concurrently pose the threat of Death to those sciences that require universal answers. Irreverential curiosity is threatening to the established order dominated by Cartesian-Newtonian rationalism as it opens doors to the perpetuality of Uncertainty which has historically necessitated efforts to expunge such curiosity, questioning, and wanting to learn. This phenomenon is readily apparent within mainstream psychoanalytic thinking in the United States through the ossification of Theory (Truth) found in psychoanalytic institutes and in the institutionalization of Knowledges that coincides with the alignment of psychoanalysis with the health care and insurance industries. 2


So far, the writing on the walls of mainstream psychoanalysis - in theory and in practice - points the way to a path of institutionalization and appropriation in the politics of Knowledge as it conforms to socio-political standards sanctioned within a culture dominated by biology and medicine. This paper suggests that scurrying to follow this path is driven by discomfort with Uncertainties.

QUESTION: Could it be that opportunities to create other paths are waiting to be discovered, paths which may even be found to be more meaningful if they are not recognized as such at the outset?

Given the current complexity of information available to us as psychoanalytic thinkers, an increasing appreciation for Uncertainties presents opportunities for situating the domain of psychoanalytic thinking within the "participative Multi-Verse," for abandoning diagnostic dualism and unquestioned authority of the Analyst, and for enriching an appreciation of semiotics in the psychoanalytic discourse. Embracing Uncertainties thus paves the way of marking new ideas with yet to be formed Bodies of Words, and developing languages that celebrate rather than mark questioning as we speak our "new" psychoanalyses.



1.  One proponent of social constructivism unabashedly situates the analyst firmly in a power position as "moral authority" who must offer "magical gifts" to be "assimilated" by the analysand for the purpose of developing hidden "potentials" (Hoffman, 1993).

2.  A radically different psychoanalysis has recently emerged which views itself as philosophically, ethically, and morally incompatible with the medical model and health care industries (Kavanaugh, 1996).


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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