The sublime ordinary

Henderson, David (2014) The sublime ordinary. In: The Notion of the Sublime in Creativity and Destruction: A Joint Jung/Lacan Conference, 12-14 Sep 2014, Cambridge, UK. . [Conference or Workshop Item]


This paper explores the ways in which, for some patients, images of the “normal” or “ordinary” can function as sublime objects. Ordinary life and a normal self are beautiful, but terrifying prospects. Fantasy is woven around the longing to attain release in the normal world. Simultaneously there are defences against the terror of engulfment and loss of orientation.

For some patients the normal and ordinary represent lost worlds. These lost worlds can be mourned and to some degree reclaimed. As they come to re-inhabit the lost world its sublime aura fades. Other patients, however, have always been anomalous. By virtue of extreme early trauma, cultural dislocation or acute sensitivity they have never been unselfconsciously or instinctively part of ordinary society in any meaningful sense. For these patients notions of mourning or reclaiming a lost object are meaningless. For them the acceptance that the normal, ordinary life is unattainable is crucial.

To the degree that psychotherapists place a premium on a normative path of development and adaptation they are at risk of failing this second group of patients. For them the sublime ordinary remains an unattainable, disturbing and alluring territory.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Conference held at St John's College, University of Cambridge.
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology > Centre for Psychoanalysis
Item ID: 13798
Useful Links:
Depositing User: David Henderson
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2014 10:11
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:31

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