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Thorner, H. (1981). Either/or—A Contribution to the Problem of Symbolization and Sublimation. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 62:455-463.

(1981). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 62:455-463

Either/or—A Contribution to the Problem of Symbolization and Sublimation

Hans Thorner


Symbol proper and symbolic equation (Segal) represent two extreme positions of many possible experiences which lie between them. A patient complained, that a game like cricket is the symbolic presentation of a fight, in which one person is to be shot. He considered this game reprehensible and a trick by which the participants act out their aggressive feelings without admitting them to themselves. This idea was traced back to an inability to establish a meaningful synthesis of the two aspects: the symbolic representation and the idea of a game. A meaningful synthesis was not possible as any contact was felt as a powerful collision demonstrated by clinical examples (dreams, fantasies, powerful projective ideas). The powerful projective ideas were derivatives of greedy taking possession of the desired object. In addition to the disturbance of symbol formation this led to an inhibition of activities and wishes. As a result the patient became the prisoner of the desired object (fixation). The powerful projective mechanisms were also related to anality. It was remarkable

that in spite of these limitations, which concerned mainly his private life, the patient retained clear intellectual faculties and could successfully fill a very responsible professional position.

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