IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

Back to Table of Contents

identification of a certain presence within him with a feeling of emptiness or death which led him/her to becoming ill, in the first place.

VI. Ah. Willy Baranger: “Half Dead Half-Alive Object” Willy Baranger (1961-1962) described a particular structure of the object that seems to occur in all mourning processes and depressive states, though not exclusively, in which the object is experienced as half dead – half alive. Clinical experience and products of fantasy (myths, legends, novels, etc.) reveal a great variety of such structures, some of which are persecutory, others damaged and depressed. In some cases, the genesis of depression seems to focus around the half dead-half alive object, which occupies a place of primary importance in the world of the unconscious. It has, as a corollary, a certain type of idealized object, both being distinct from the superego. He described the rigidness of this structure of the object, and its difficult assimilation by the ego. Taking into consideration the previous existence of an important symbiotic situation between the ego and the object allowed him to shed some light on its genesis. Baranger observed that understanding the tension between the impoverished ego and the hypertrophied and sadistic superego was insufficient to effect change. Only taking into account the relationship of the self with its dead-alive object and its idealized object, both of which are distinct from the superego, can make a difference. In prolonged depressive states, the process of grieving cannot take place and the subject remains, in a more or less concealed form, tied to an object that can neither return to life nor completely die. The person in a depressed state lives subjected to a dead-alive object. Only by means of analytical work does this object manifest itself more and more clearly, allowing us to study its structure and its characteristics. Some dead-alive object types closely resemble persecuting objects: at one extreme, we are faced with a series of structures in which there are dying objects that the self/the ego must preserve at any cost and, at the other extreme, objects are presented that cause a mixture of depressive anxiety and paranoid anxiety in the ego / self. Among the many different deads-alive objects Baranger describes, the most important variety is the dying object of the depressive states. Here, the subject is "inhabited" by an internal ‘almost dead’ object, which keeps the subject enslaved and obliges it to a sterile activity of reparation, which always remains incomplete. This unconscious situation determines the depressive anxieties related to external objects, such as guilt, inhibitions and other defenses found in depressive states. In states of grief/mourning and depression, he recognizes the existence of two different objects, both ambivalent, although differing in structure and function. Both feed off of the ego/the self, impoverish it, and lead the ego/the self to adopt a masochistic attitude. One dead- alive object has the function of containing sadistic fantasies and allows control of depressive anxiety. The second, the idealized object, serves as a refuge for the ego/the self, who deposits


Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online