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Kavaler-Adler, S. (2006). “My Graduation is My Mother's Funeral”: Transformation From the Paranoid-Schizoid to the Depressive Position in Fear of Success, and the Role of the Internal Saboteur. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 15:117-130.

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(2006). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 15(2):117-130

“My Graduation is My Mother's Funeral”: Transformation From the Paranoid-Schizoid to the Depressive Position in Fear of Success, and the Role of the Internal Saboteur

Susan Kavaler-Adler

Freud's conflation of neurotic and existential guilt is challenged in this paper. A study of fear of success in a female analysand is presented that illustrates the resolution of this syndrome through a mourning process in which the neurotic guilt of Melanie Klein's paranoid-schizoid position is transformed into the existential guilt of Klein's depressive position. An evolution within the depressive-position existential guilt is seen as the analysand mourns and separates from an internal mother and father, who are hostile to her developmental needs. This evolution involves the transformation of an idealizing transference, symptomatically enacted through gradations of vicarious living through the analyst, being profoundly transformed into the analysand's active creation of an identity in the world. Simultaneously, the internal world becomes alive in psychic fantasy. This transformation also involves the modification of an internal sabotaging psychic structure, which had been compelled by the dissociated punitive reaction of an internalized angry mother of separation trauma, employing the unconscious re-enactment of an early infant illness. Split-off envy and split-off self-sabotage become consciously owned through the grieving of existential guilt, as visceral experience is converted into symbolization.

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