19 Chapters
Medium 9781855757554

9 Splitting of the ego and perversion

Bokanowski, Thierry; Lewkowicz, Sergio Karnac Books ePub

9

Louise Carignan

Freud's views on perversion evolved through successive stages. In the Three Essays (1905d) he conceived of perversion as the persistence in adult life of untamed components of childhood, or “pregenital” sexuality, at the expense of adult genital sexuality. Perversion was contrasted with neurosis, in which these pregenital or perverse impulses were censored. By the 1920s, however, he had modified his views, seeing perversions as regressive defensive formations in relation to the Oedipus complex (Freud, 1919e). Finally, in his late works on fetishism and the splitting of the ego in the process of defence (Freud, 1927e, 1940a [1938], 1940e [1938]), he described disavowal-a mechanism that allows the fetishist to maintain his belief that his mother has a penis and negate the perceptual reality, side by side with acknowledging the fact of sexual differences and drawing the correct conclusions from it. The disavowal of female castration protects the fetishist from the fear of losing his own penis. Rather than hallucinating the missing female penis as would a psychotic, he only transfers the importance or value of the penis onto another part of the female body or another object called a fetish, which then renders the woman tolerable as a sexual object. Freud noted that the “artful” way of dealing with reality at work in disavowal, where two contradictory attitudes coexist without influencing each other, was, however, achieved at the price of a rift in the ego, which persists or increases over time.

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Medium 9781855757554

2 Splitting, processing loss, and borderline states

Bokanowski, Thierry; Lewkowicz, Sergio Karnac Books ePub

2

Gérard Bayle

Borderline states involve some degree of instability of the sense of identity both in the individual and in his or her objects. Intra-psychic conflict no longer remains within the confines of neurotic structures; it involves attacks and retreats between the intrapsychic and intersubjective modalities. The frontier between inside and outside is more or less blurred by projection and by projective identification, carried out or endured (Green, 1990).

Given the continuous fluctuation between neurotic and psychotic processes, the aetiology of borderline states involves very many factors. I shall take one of these as the starting point of this chapter: the failure of the work of mourning or, more specifically, that of processing loss. I have been studying this subject for over twenty years now (Bayle, 1988).

Emergency barriers and the impact of loss

When the object is no longer there, the drive-related impulses that were linked to it fall as it were into a void. If that absence is a lasting one, what results is a massive drive-related outflow that may prove fatal. The loss of libido generates so much distress and anxiety that it can lead to helplessness [Hilflosigkeit].

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Medium 9781855757448

4: Not letting go: from individual perennial mourners to societies with entitlement ideologies

Karnac Books ePub

4

Vamlk D. Volkan

For three decades my colleagues at the University of Virginia and I conducted a study of hundreds of mourning processes and their various consequences (Volkan, 1972, 1981, 1985, 2004; Volkan, Cil-luffo,&Sarvay, 1975; Volkan&Josephthal, 1980; Volkan&Zintl, 1993; Zuckerman&Volkan, 1989). In this chapter I draw upon our findings, first by updating and summarizing the psychodynam-ics involved in an adult's mourning and depression, about which Freud's (1917e [1915]) conclusions still provide the basics. Second, I describe a condition that was not touched upon in “Mourning and Melancholia”: some individuals become stuck for years…or even for a lifetime…unable to let the lost person or thing go. They utilize their various ego functions to cope with their losses, primarily to deal with the conflict between “killing” or “bringing back to life” the lost object, and they do this at the expense of using them for more adaptive purposes. They become “perennial mourners” while not developing depression. Third, I focus on societal mourning (Volkan, 1977, 1997, 2006), a concept that is also not mentioned in “Mourning and Melancholia”, and ask this question: can a large group, such as an ethnic or religious group, become a society that suffers from perennial mourning?

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4 Real wolves and fake wolves: alternating between repression and splitting in complex clinical cases

Bokanowski, Thierry; Lewkowicz, Sergio Karnac Books ePub

4

Stefano Bolognini

On the heels of a century of psychoanalysis, we are faced in our field with an extremely complex theoretical dimension, enriched by a myriad of scientific contributions, which are coming from various directions and which take care of, at least in part, illuminating ever-widening areas of the individual's psychic life and of the analytic couple's functioning at work in analysis.

Most analysts set themselves to the long and demanding task of getting to know, augmenting, evaluating, and selecting a kit of conceptual tools that can be gathered together from the literature, seminar studies, and congresses. The goal of getting equipped this way is to integrate new theoretical breakthroughs that prove themselves to be useful for understanding a continually mutating clinical reality and, at the same time, prove to be consistent and sufficiently in tune with one's own analytic identity, founded earlier on.

This approach is profoundly different, then, from ridding oneself of that which one has learned, substituting it in block form with that which seems new.

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1 On splitting of the ego: a history of the concept

Bokanowski, Thierry; Lewkowicz, Sergio Karnac Books ePub

1

Ira Brenner

Human thought leads us to wonder about the origin and nature of things. While such curiosity is not the exclusive domain of our species, our primate cousins appear to be more concerned with the more basic issues of finding food and a suitable mate and of surviving. We, too, concern ourselves with such instinctual demands, and with more sublime themes. Our wonderment about such matters as human nature, our existence, and the origin of the universe have occupied us for millennia and promise to vex us for many more. Such ineffable questions spawn not only scientific inquiry but also challenge our imagination, activate primary-process thinking, and provide a canvas onto which projective phenomena may be painted. As these mental processes converge, resulting in richly textured ideas, theories, and belief systems, it cannot help be noted that certain patterns keep appearing in our attempts to understand and organize our world. One of these patterns is that a thing can change by becoming divided, separated, or split into two or more parts. For example, the division of cells-mitosis-is a basic pattern of life. It is a spatial model, which seems to be more readily understood than a model based on the more abstract but more comprehensive space-time continuum, which is less readily apparent to our minds (Brenner, 2002).

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