I was poking around today for first, or probably more important, most influential uses of the term "annihilation" in a psychoanalytic context. It's been coming up pretty frequently in my recent reading. And blowing through the shreds and tatters of my former life. As I spent most of today wrestling with the panic attack from hell, I figured it was time to get serious about this psychic annihilation business. A man has to have something to keep his mind off his, uh... well... mind.
Seems that Freud uses the term, but not (as far as I was able to discover in my rapidfire googling) in any what you might call principled way. Melanie Klein, however, and her pet alien, Wilfred Bion (yes, Virginia Bionic analysis is not a joke; whereas Kohutian analysis may well be; long story short, maybe later) are indeed responsible for the special meaning annihilation has come to have in the psychoanalytic world, such as it is. And then D.W. Winnicott who studied with Klein, extended it in some interesting directions. It's all totally terrifying, as you can imagine, and makes it really hard to fucking breathe when it drops around. As it did today.
Believe it or not, this little research project began with the line from the Evanescence song, Going Under, where Amy Lee (that's her at your left) is going (I wish I could play it for you): "I'm going under (going under) / drowning in you (drowning in you) / I'm falling forever..."
Because, and here's the weird part, that very notion of "falling forever" is explicitly mentioned by Winnicott (1992) and Stolorow, et al. (2002). I know this because I read these passages -- the Stolorow just this past week; the Winnicott maybe 6-8 months ago. And I pay attention to shit like that, because, in fact, this feeling of "falling forever" is tightly coupled to annihilation anxiety. Or panic. Or the thing where you suddenly need a whole lot of heroin -- even if, like myself, you've never done any, well, smoked a little O once, but that was mixed with hash and I was ripped on speed so it was hard to tell -- and a state-of-the-art heart-lung machine. To be more formal: unbearable mental anguish. So anyway, I found these little refs...
"Klein believed that the anxiety in the paranoid-schizoid position was persecutory, threatening the annihilation of the self..."
"Psychic life consists of symbiotic anxieties (at the prospect of annihilation or loss) and defenses (expressed in mature love as alternations between guilt and reparation)."
Look, I didn't really mean to get into all this. But then I found this book, and well... you know, it was just too good to pass up. I saw Melanie Klein drinking a Pina Colada at Trader Vic's. I saw Wilfred Bion walking with the Queen. His hair was perfect.
better stay away from him
he'll rip your lungs out, Jim
I'd like to meet his tailor
well, I saw Lon Chaney walking with the Queen
I saw a werewolf drinking a Pina Colada at Trader Vic's
his hair was perfect