Divine space: Contemplating the object behind a religious patient's spatial metaphor

Moshe Halevi Spero

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


If we accept that psychic space is fundamentally all about 'having somewhere to put what we find' (Winnicott, 1967, p. 99), then the patient's becoming aware of and pointing out the metaphor-and her ability to utilize it-indicates that such 'place' is well on the way of having been experienced as available for creative psychic use. In the course of this exposition, I also think we've managed to confirm Charles Taylor's contention that 'the self only exists in a space of moral questions, that moral topography is not an external addition, an optional extra, but that the question of being or failing to be a self could not arise outside of this space' (1988, p. 317), emphasis mine). In Bollas's terms (1992, p. 31), makom may be identified as 'the place of the complex self.' No longer played upon according to the whim of external objects, nor even lost-albeit creatively-in the world of transitional illusoriness, the complex self has attained a modicum of detachment from which high point it questions, challenges, and redefines its relationship to objects. Moses and my patient, each in their own ways, sought out this place in the presence of what they identified as other. Each individual found a medium for carving out a better sense of internal dimensionality, even though this achievement required relinquishing the concrete comforts of the ever-present object and welcoming a certain degree of existential loneliness. In some sense, the Other's reciprocal sense of loneliness and alterity also has been discerned and must be internalized as well, adding that characteristically bittersweet element increasingly recognized as proper to the domain of the unknown within the very limnal categories of internal space. Ultimately, the makom of utmost psychological relevance to humankind is that place made sacred by internalization. And 'there, in the solitary space, we repeatedly contact that essential aloneness that launches our idiom into its ephemeral being' (Bollas, 1989, p. 22).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-485
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998


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