IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

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or elaborates lies and hallucinations in service of evasion (Meltzer, 1975), the infant’s projections may be stripped of what little meaning they may bear and be returned as nameless dreads (Bion). Finally, mothers who fear separation or loss of part of themselves in identification with their infant may fail to give back what is projected. Winnicott (1971, p. 114) describes this as the failure in “mirroring” of a depressed mother. Mitrani (1993) proposes that, in some cases, a black- hole depression in the mother may prevail. The “deadness” of such a mother may absorb all aliveness in the infant, sucking in or swallowing up the infant’s dynamic, though painful, projections, without echo, re-coil or reflection, leaving the infant with an experience of depletion and emptiness. She observes that this experience, of what she terms an absorbent mother, could result in a diminution of normal projective identification as a means of communication with the mother in an attempt on the part of the infant to preserve the nascent self. Additionally, mothers may reflect back to the infant elements more terrifying and unthinkable than those originally projected, resulting in the infant’s loss of the ability to utilize an adequately containing mother. In this instance, normal projective and introjective activities are curtailed and the development of an apparatus for mentation is truncated. In all the above-mentioned cases, the obdurate, absorbent and unthinking objects involved in a deficient containing experience can lead either to massive unmodifiable projections, an insatiable search for maternal sanctuary or the inhibition or atrophy of projective and introjective functions. As a consequence, a mind for thinking, or even the thoughts themselves, may fail to develop. Donnel B. Stern , an interpersonal analyst heavily influenced by the work of Sullivan and Levenson, notes that the analytic interaction involves the constant interplay of both conscious and unconscious aspects of analyst and patient. In such a process, the projective identifications are embedded in the interaction and the process is bi-directional and fluid. In his model, the roles of patient and analyst are both mutual and reciprocal. Stern studies the analytic dyad from the standpoint of “the interpersonalization of dissociation”, redescribing projective identification as a form of “dissociative enactment” which can be described as the: “attribution of one’s dissociated parts to the other, whom one then treats as the alien, dissociated part of oneself” (Stern, 2011). Philip Bromberg’s work (Bromberg, 1998, 2006, 2011) focuses on the analytic situation as a complex field of projections and introjections wherein the patient’s dissociated self- experience can be processed and reclaimed by the patient. He describes the process by which dissociated self-states in the patient triggers associated self-states in the analyst in an unconscious communication to be then decoded by the participants. One commonality between the relational view of enactment and Bionian projective identification is that for each the therapeutic effect is achieved by the transformation of “raw” experience that cannot be used in making meaning (Bion’s beta elements [1962,1963]) into a form that can be thought about by both patient and analyst (Bion’s alpha elements) (Stern, 2011). One element that distinguishes Baranger and Ferro’s field theories (see below) from that of Bromberg and Stern’s is that, as interpersonalists, they more emphasize the separateness of patient and analyst as co-participants in the process. Both Stern and Bromberg also put a great emphasis on what is actually happening between patient


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