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Kramer, S. (1986). Identification and its Vicissitudes as Observed in Children: A Developmental Approach. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 67:161-172.

(1986). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 67:161-172

Identification and its Vicissitudes as Observed in Children: A Developmental Approach

Selma Kramer

SUMMARY

In the last thirty-five years, theories derived from observational studies on normally developing infants and toddlers as well as on children with severe pathology have augmented Freud's original contribution to the theory of identification.

Mahler's formulations, in particular, are used in this paper to demonstrate the importance for identification of the mutual interaction between mother (or caregiver) and even the very young infant, and to delineate the gradual process by which are achieved intrapsychic self and object-representations. The thread of identification is followed from earliest mirroring of the young infant to post-oedipal ego identifications.

I present aspects of the treatment of a borderline adopted boy to demonstrate problems in identification which occurs in part because his two primary caregivers competed to such a degree for possession of him, each demanding loyalty to herself and to herself alone, that his identity and identifications were confused, in fact duplicated. This white child had as his alter-ego, really as part of his self-representation, a black half of the self, personified as a black boy whom he fantasized to be his twin.

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