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Seton, P.H. (1965). Uses of Affect Observed in a Histrionic Patient. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 46:226-236.

(1965). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 46:226-236

Uses of Affect Observed in a Histrionic Patient

Paul H. Seton


I have tried to describe the functions of affect in a histrionic patient. This patient had reified his feelings to an extraordinary degree and made use of them in very many of his internal and external negotiations. Histrionics are most often taken to be primarily an instrument of interpersonal transactions. Here I have described them as having their chief importance as an adaptive instrument of the ego in its complex intrapsychic operations. Though I have not explicitly taken up these phenomena in terms of their genetic, economic, dynamic, adaptive, and structural implications, these aspects are touched on in the clinical material reported. I see the shifts in affect accomplished by this patient as occurring along a continuum that extends from the surface deep into the personality structure. The continuum begins at one end with the facile shifting in moment-to-moment feelings; it runs through shifts in sentiment and changes in mood to where early internalized objects, represented and preserved as affective configurations, are summoned up to effect an alteration in the currently prepotent identification, or to create seemingly an environmental change.

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