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Balint, M. (1955). Friendly Expanses—horrid Empty Spaces. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 36:225-241.

(1955). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 36:225-241

Friendly Expanses—horrid Empty Spaces

Michael Balint


To help my readers to follow the argument of this paper in its many ramifications and side issues, I wish to start by stating the main theme in a condensed form. In studying our patients, or indeed man in general, two types emerge. I will quote a concrete instance of each of these types. The first is that of a young student, intelligent, artistic, and well-read. She always collected something, books, gramophone records, embroideries, art reproductions, and so on. People meant a great deal to her; she had friends all over the world, white and coloured, young and old, persons of high social position and simple folk. All of them had to help her in some respect or other, and all were willing to do so, at least for quite a time. This was vitally important to her, as she simply could not live alone. There constantly had to be someone, not necessarily the same person, to whom she could turn for sympathy, understanding, and help, if she came up against a difficulty—and difficulties she had in plenty. It did not matter who the person was—an ambassador of a great power or a penniless coloured student from the Gold Coast, one of our leading literary lights, an O.M., or the young secretary-typist of her professor—all had to be there in their turn to listen to her, to look after her—and they all did so. Her internal life was in harmony with the outward events; she had always recently received from someone an idea which explained practically everything.

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