Mourning and Melancholia – Freud, 1917


field-thunderstorm-rainy-meadow.jpgEnglish Translation, 1957, Standard Edition, 14, 237-58.

“An object-choice, an attachment of the libido to a particular person, had at one time existed; then, owing to a real slight or disappointment coming from this loved person, the object-relationship was shattered.  The result was not the normal one of a withdrawal of the libido from this object and a displacement of it on to a new one, but something different, for whose coming-about various conditions seem to be necessary.  The object-cathexis proved to have little power of resistance and was brought to an end but the free libido was not displaced on to another object; it was withdrawn into the ego.  There, however, it was not employed in any unspecified way, but served to establish an identification of the ego with the abandoned object.  Thus the shadow of the object fell upon the ego, and the latter could henceforth be judged by a special agency, as though it were an object, the forsaken object.  In this way object-loss was transformed into an ego-loss and the conflict between the ego and the loved person into a cleavage between the critical activity of the ego and the ego as altered by identification.”

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The Violence of Emotions – Bion and Post-Bionion Psychoanalysis – Giuseppe Civitarese

                                              Photo by c@rljones on / CC BY-NC

Routledge, 2013   p. 24

“Transcending the caesura and reversing perspective (RP) may be a process that initially leads to new ideas being ‘felt’ as if they possessed some of the qualities of bizarre objects – the objects that are created when the contact barrier is dispersed.  When new thoughts are allowed to arise, this may call for an unaccustomed permeability of conscious to unconscious thought, which is then the mental state that is actively pursued by evenly suspended attention or negative capability (NC).  For this reason, many original ideas may at first appear strange or mad, and may give rise to a sensation of excessive ambiguity or even of confusion, to such an extent that their protagonists can uphold them only if they have ‘faith’ in the existence of a reality (O) which they are deemed to reflect.  The contact barrier is seen to be unstable, and its state of permeability to be dynamic.  Just as projective identification (PI) and the paranoid schizoid (PS) –  depressive (D) oscillation have become physiological mechanisms of thought, so the mechanism of reversible perspective (RP) can be seen as not always pathological – at least when the subject, while switching between different viewpoints or reversing the figure, does not apply an absolute or once-for-all denial to the alternative perspective, but instead tolerates the ambiguity and frustration of not being able to see both the figure and the ground together.  The slash (i.e. the punctuation mark) as it were slopes the other way.  Throughout his oeuvre, Bion seems never to have proceeded in any other way.  In a passage from Learning from Experience in which he describes how the selected fact may represent the factor, the caesura, that confers sense and coherence on formerly meaningless elements, he hints at this non-pathological dimension of reversible perspective (RP), in noting that this event ‘is accompanied by an emotion such as is experienced  in regarding the object in reversible perspective’ (Bion, (1962), Learning from Experience, London, Karnac 1984, p. 87).”

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Attacks on Linking Revisited – A New Look at Bion’s Classic Work

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Edited by Catalina Bronstein and Edna O’Shaughnessy 

Karnac Books – 2017 

p. XXV (Introduction)   “ICogitations (1992), Bion differentiated experiences that appear to be transformed by alpha function from those that cannot be transformed.  In order for a  sense impression to be transformed by alpha function, the impression must stay for some length of time (it has to acquire some durability) and must be ideogrammaticised.  Bion gave the example that if the experience is of pain, the psyche must have some visual image of “rubbing an elbow, or tearful face”. He added,

If the reality principle is dominant, then the object of the ideogram will be to make the experience suitable for storage and recall; if the pleasure-pain principle is dominant, the tendency will be to have as the object of the ideogram its value as an excretable object.  (1992, p.64)  Bion W.R. (1992) Cogitations. London:  Karnac.”

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Projective Identification and Psychotherapeutic Technique – Thomas H. Ogden, Karnac Books 1992


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p.  1  “Projective identification is not a metapsychological concept.  The phenomena it describes exist in the realm of thoughts, feelings, and behaviour, not in the realm of abstract beliefs about the workings of the mind.  Whether or not one uses the term or is cognizant of the concept of projective identification, clinically one continually bumps up against the phenomena to which it refers – unconscious projective fantasies, in association with the evocation of congruent feelings in others.  Resistance on the part of therapists and analysts to thinking about these phenomena is understandable:  it is unsettling to imagine experiencing feelings and thinking thoughts that are in an important sense not entirely one’s own.  And yet, the lack of a vocabulary with which to think about this class of phenomena seriously interferes with the therapist’s capacity to understand, manage, and interpret the transference.  Projective identification is a concept that addresses the way in which feeling-states corresponding to the unconscious fantasies of one person (the projector) are engendered in and processed by another person (the recipient),  that is, the way in which one person makes use of another person to experience and contain an aspect of himself.  The projector has the primarily unconscious fantasy of getting rid of an unwanted or endangered part of himself (including internal objects) and of deposing that part in another person in a powerfully controlling way.  The projected part of the self is felt to be partially lost and to be inhabiting the other person.  In association with this unconscious projective fantasy there is an interpersonal interaction by means of which the recipient is pressured to think, feel, and behave in a manner congruent with the ejected feelings and the self- and object-representations embodied in the projective fantasy.  In other words, the recipient is pressured to engage in an identification with a specific, disowned aspect of the projector.

The recipient may be able to live with such induced feelings and manage them within the context of his own larger personality system, for example, by mastery through understanding or integration with more reality-based self-representations.  In such a case, the projector many constructively reinternalize by introjection and identification aspects of the recipient’s handling of the induced feelings.  On the other hand, the recipient may be unable to live with the induced feelings and may handle such feelings by means of denial, projection, omnipotent idealization, further projective identification, or actions aimed at tension relief, such as violence, sexual activity, or distancing behaviour.  In these cases the projector would be confirmed in his/her belief that his/her feelings and fantasies were indeed dangerous and unbearable.  Through identification with the recipient’s pathological handling of the feelings involved, the original pathology of the projector would be further consolidated or expanded.

The concept of projective identification by no means constitutes an entire theory of therapy, nor does it involve a departure from the main body of psychoanalytic theory and technique.  It does go significantly beyond what is ordinarily referred to as transference, wherein the patient distorts his view of the therapist while directing toward the therapist the same feelings that he held toward an earlier person in his life (Freud 1912, 1914, 1915).  In projective identification, not only does the patient view the therapist in a distorted way that is determined by the patient’s past object relations; in addition, pressure is exerted on the therapist to experience himself in a way that is congruent with the patient’s unconsious fantasy.”

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The Figure of Beatrice – Charles Williams, 1943

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apocryphile press, 2005  p. 15

“The image of the woman was not new in him, nor even the mode in which he treated it. What was new was the intensity of his treatment and the extreme to which he carried it. In his master’s great poem – in Virgil’s Aeneid – the image of the woman and the image of the city had both existed, but opposed.  Dido had been the enemy of Rome, and morality had carried the hero away from Dido to Rome.  But in Dante they are reconciled; the appearance of Virgil at the opening of the Commedia has about it this emphasis also.  Virgil could not enter the paradise of that union, for his poem had refused it.  But after Virgil the intellect had had visions which it communicated to the heart, if indeed they are so far separate.  Since Dante the corrupt following of his way has spoiled the repute of the vision.  But the vision has remained.  People still fall in love, and fall in love as Dante did.  It is not unusual to find them doing so.”

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The Human Condition – Hannah Arendt, 1958


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The University of Chicago Press

p. 50 “Indeed, the most intense feeling we know of, intense to the point of blotting out all other experiences, namely, the experience of great bodily pain, is at the same time the most private and least communicable of all.  Not only is it perhaps the only experience which we are unable to transform into a shape fit for public appearance, it actually deprives us of our feeling for reality to such an extent that we can forget it more quickly and easily than anything else.  There seems to be no bridge from the most radical subjectivity, in which I am no longer “recognizable,”  to the outer world of life.  Pain, in other words, truly a borderline experience between life as “being among men ” (inter homines esse) and death, is so subjective and removed from the world of things and men that it cannot assume an appearance at all.

Since our feeling for reality depends utterly upon appearance and therefore upon the existence of a public realm into which things can appear out of the darkness of sheltered existence, even the twilight which illuminates our private and intimate lives is ultimately  derived from the harsher light of the public realm.  Yet there are a great many things which cannot withstand the implacable, bright light of the constant presence of others on the public scene; there, only what is considered to be relevant, worthy of being seen or heard, can be tolerated, so that the irrelevant becomes automatically a private matter.  This, to be sure, does not mean that private concerns are generally irrelevant; on the contrary, we shall see that there are very relevant matters which can survive only in the realm of the private.  For instance, love, in distinction from friendship, is killed, or rather extinguished, the moment it is displayed in public.  (“Never seek to tell thy love / Love that never told can be.”) Because of its inherent wordlessness, love can only become false and perverted when it is used for political purposes such as the change of salvation of the world.”

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Losing and Fusing, Borderline Transitional Object and Self Relations – Roger Lewin, M.D. and Clarence Schulz, M.D., 1992

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Jason Aronson Press

p. 10-13   “The Doctor – Patient relationship is the central integrative feature in an ongoing broadly conceived treatment of a borderline patient.  Everything else depends on it…. What do we mean when we talk of the doctor – patient relationship? … A relationship is not a thing.  Rather, it is a process of a high order of complexity, with many different aspects high-lighted differently at different times.  It changes.  It rearranges.  It can appear strikingly different at different times.  … When we talk of the doctor-patient relationship, we are talking of the “back and forth” between the doctor and the patient, which takes place along a variety of channels.  This “back and forth” has to do with words, looks, postural sets, and a whole series of cues that are interpreted, misinterpreted, and elaborated into fantasies, ideas, and actions by both parties.  It is visceral. …  It is the “back and forth” itself that is of the most fundamental importance and that serves to protect the flexibility and vitality of the treatment. … Relationship means repetitive meetings, separations, reunions.  It means repetitive risks, and hopes, repetitive disillusionments and despairs, repetititve repairs and doubts, but, above all, repetitions.  We intend the term repetition in the original etymological sense of trying over and over again.”

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