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December 2021

An infant's experience as a selfobject

Journal/Book: Amer J Psychother. 1999; 53: Belfer Educ Center, Room 402 Albert Einstein Coll Med 1300 Morris Park Ave, Bronx, NY 10461-1602, USA. Assn Advan Psychotherapy. 177-187.

Abstract: Exploration of the clinic al literature shows an awareness that an infant's experience as a selfobject often is traumatic, but if there is an experience of mutuality, the trauma might be avoided. Where such mutuality does not occur, an infant's experience of constantly repairing a depressed parent, or of being blamed, abused ou having an identity imposed by a parent, leads to exhaustion and/or traumatization. Kohut's paradigmatic case of Mr. Z is presented as an example of the distressful effects of being a selfobject (of idealization) for a mother Patients who were traumatized as infants by functioning as a selfobject for a parent often present for psychotherapy seeking an archaic form of twinship that recreates the infant-parent traumatizing relationship by imposing on the therapist the function that had been imposed on them as infants. Until this archaic twinship is empathically, understood accepted and explored with the patient, the lasting effects of the traumatization are not resolved.

Note: Article Lee RR, 663 Canning St, Carlton, Vic 3054, AUSTRALIA

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