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Hardin, H.T. (1985). On the Vicissitudes of Early Primary Surrogate Mothering. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 33:609-629.

(1985). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 33:609-629

On the Vicissitudes of Early Primary Surrogate Mothering

Harry T. Hardin, M.D.


I have noted estrangement from biological mothers and intolerance of intimate relationships in patients with an early history of primary surrogate mothering. This observation facilitated discovery of such early histories in 31 of 102 patients I examined during a five-year period. With a review of the literature, and clinical examples, I attempt to associate the estrangement and intolerance with (1) the mother's exclusion resulting from her infant's close tie to a surrogate and (2) the infant's inevitable traumatic loss of the latter. In the analyses of screen phenomena, traumatic loss of the latter. In the analyses of screen phenomena, mother and surrogate mother transferences, all peculiar to that caretaking, the surrogate is seen to emerge from obscurity. In the clinical examples (limited to losses of surrogates following the infant's eighteenth month) screen memories, dreams, and eclipse are found to possess a common feature: the image of the surrogate is screened by that of the mother. Biological mother and, in the countertransference, the analyst play a significant role in perpetuating the concealment of the surrogate.

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