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4 - Fighting the use of Autistic Objects

Marisa Pelella Melega Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

This chapter covers a period (1981–1982) in which I focussed on the problem of dealing with Mário's use of autistic objects, and made some experimental explorations. From April 1981, I decided to make my presence more emphatic in order to tackle this problem. It seemed it was not enough to simply speak aloud, to ponder, to show that I am present; this approach still tolerated the use of autistic objects. So from this time, when he came in and started telling his stories or enumerating his lists, I tried standing up myself, in a more confrontational way.

When I saw, for example, that he was listing a numerical sequence with an interval of four figures, I spoke the next number in the sequence, showing him that I had solved the riddle. He became furious, hitting me and trying to wrestle back control by forcing me to go back to “my place”. On other occasions he would threaten me, assaulting me with the cushion, the footstool, the box, kicking out and climbing onto the table so that he felt more powerful than me.

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Medium 9781780491042

1. Esther Bick in South America: supervision of the observation of a baby girl from birth to eight months

Mariza Leite da Costa Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

This chapter takes a look at Esther Bick at work, in the context of a series of group seminars on infant observation that took place in Montevideo in August 1970. Several sessions are transcribed here from Mrs Bick’s supervision of the observation of a baby girl, Andrea.

The observer says the parents had agreed to the observation sessions the previous week.

Observer: (reads) I telephoned the mother and a person who identified herself as her sister informed me she was unable to come to the telephone as she was in bed with a fever. I was asked to call back the following week. We agreed that the meetings would be held regularly at 5.30 pm on Saturdays, a time when the mother normally baths the baby. The telephone conversation was polite. I felt the mother was very depressed, but her voice

EB: The dog is the father’s baby. Before the baby was born, the dog was both parents’ “baby”, but now it is just the father’s – a very common situation.

O: (reads) The door is opened by a young woman who, on being asked, introduces herself as the mother’s sister. We cross a spacious patio and turn right, toward a patio surrounded by residences. This is where the dog is kept: a large and tough animal, kept on a chain, which jumps up and lets itself be petted by the sister before coming over to sniff me.

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Medium 9781782204657

5 - The Birth of a Baby and Premonitions of the Depressive Position

Donald Meltzer Harris Meltzer Trust ePub


Alfredo Colucci

The diagnosis of this patient, whom I will call Roberto, was clinical narcissism. He is almost 40 years old, has been in analysis for a year and a half, and has four sessions a week with me. I will not hand out copies of this material even though the patient has given me his permission to present it here.

Donald Meltzer: Just out of curiosity, if the patient had not given you his permission, what would you have done?

Alfredo Colucci: I would have talked about another patient.

DM: I am interested in this question regarding confidentiality. Would you ask his permission to submit this material to an ordinary supervision?

AC: No.

DM: Would you ask the patient's permission to talk to your wife about this case?

AC: No, I would not either.

Participant: His wife is an analyst.

DM: I was not talking about the colleague; I was talking about the wife. This issue of confidentiality is so complex that it becomes a little hypocritical.

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1 - Mário and his Stories

Marisa Pelella Melega Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Mário was referred to me aged eleven years and nine months, and his treatment lasted around seven years, monitored over most of that time by Donald Meltzer, with a review of the case eighteen years later. The following narrative will demonstrate the steps taken toward building an analytical relationship with the boy, and testify to the analyst's emotions in the face of the difficulty of establishing a link that could evolve into a growth relationship. When Mário came to me for analysis, I knew that he had severe difficulties in getting in touch with reality and a strong learning disorder and, when he was almost two years old, presented with autistic behaviour, according to a clinical assessment made by a neurologist at the time.

Mário's developmental history

From the very beginning of his life Mário's fragility in his object relations was clear: he had difficulty in taking his mother's nipple, took too long to suck; his mother had the impression that he didn't like feeding until at two years of age, he started to be fed with a bottle. During the first three months, he cried his eyes out, day and night, apparently due to colic. Then he would calm down and wherever his mother placed him he stayed calm, provided she was close to him. His mother reports that she didn't hold him on her lap except at feeding time, so that he wouldn't get in the habit of expecting her to carry him around. At ten months, he started speaking some words: “dada”, “mummy”, “pooh”; imitated his father saying “get out”, and tried to say a girl's name, “Heia”. He was never a happy child. He started walking at thirteen months. At eighteen months, playing hide-and-seek with his uncle, he was startled by his uncle appearing suddenly, and began to cry and laugh. From that moment his behaviour changed; he stopped speaking and wouldn't look at his mother or other people. He was very restless and kept walking all day long, moving his arms a lot, sometimes so he hit his ears. He was not interested in any toy, and looked like a puppet that walked and ate.

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5 - Mário Reaches Adolescence

Marisa Pelella Melega Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

It is now February, 1983. Our sessions continue after a six weeks’ holiday. At the beginning of the year he continues with his list of candidates, which takes about two months to complete and runs to around 58 pages. The sense I make of this “great invention” is that of a manoeuvre that will infallibly maintain neutrality in the face of the threat of my attempts at “anti-neutrality”. I believe this is the only way he can be with me. If I threaten to get up and leave (fighting against his mental customs), he gets up and leads me from the door back to my seat, asking me to stay. However his use of autistic manoeuvres has somewhat decreased. It seems we have reached a modus vivendi in which he feels bonded to me, does not dismiss me, and is more often able to listen to me.

Session of February 10th, 1983

As soon as he enters, Mário starts to draw up a calendar for 1983.

Analyst: Strange child. Now we're getting a 1983 calendar. This is too much!

Mário continues as if nothing had happened.

Analyst: This is impossible! I shall have to leave. (I get up.)

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