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Obsessionality: Modulating the Encounter with Emotional Truth and the Aesthetic Object.

J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 2016 10;64(5):959-982

Authors: Bergstein A

Experiences with autistic and primitive mental states have significant implications for our understanding of obsessionality. Consequently, obsessionality is seen as an attempt at a massive simplification of experience, in order to deal with the pain inherent in the encounter with intense emotional experience and with the separateness of an enigmatic object that eludes one’s omnipotent control. Moreover, early loss and a precocious awareness of separateness often play roles in the withdrawal to obsessional thinking and verbosity, and to an illusion of omnipotent control of the object. Interpretations focusing on conflicting desires, or linking repressed and displaced parts of the personality with the defenses against them, do not reach these patients in a way that facilitates psychic change. An alternative approach, it is suggested, is to work at primitive, nonsymbolic levels of mental functioning, where experience cannot be verbally communicated and dynamically interpreted, but must first be lived in the here and now of the analysis. This is illustrated through the analysis of a person trying to cope with the experience of early loss by deadening emotion and finding shelter in obsessionality.

PMID: 27742754 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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