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Ahumada, J.L. (2004). On intolerance to the object's goodness. A response to Dr Symington. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(4):1005-1007.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(4):1005-1007

On intolerance to the object's goodness. A response to Dr Symington

Jorge L. Ahumada

Dear Sirs,

I can readily accept Dr Symington's idea that separation is highly traumatic when the attachment is of a leech-like nature but much less so if the attachment involves an inner creative act; however, here the fact of such inner creative act is itself evidence of achieved individuation. While Lawrence's analysis went on mainly at neurotic levels, Dr Symington's statement that the focus was persistently on the leech-like nature of the attachment signals that relevant undercurrents of the analysis belong at autistic levels. I also agree that Lawrence's remark acknowledging the significance of emotional contact in the sessions denotes a significant psychic evolution from leech-like autistic-mimetic attachment to a more evolved level of emotional functioning.

Thus, on the question of why I find that contact with the goodness of the object tends to be intolerable, the short answer is that acknowledging the goodness of the object requires, as just mentioned in Lawrence's case, a significant evolution in the mode of psychic functioning. This is prone to evoke what Bion called a hatred of a process of development (1959, p. 89), the issue being most acute at the level of autistic-mimetic functionings.

Intolerance of the goodness of the object is not a newcomer to our literature. Fittingly, Freud builds on the terrain opened up in Beyond the pleasure principle (1920) by introducing it into The ego and the id (1923) in the form of the ‘negative therapeutic reaction’ at the point where the felt goodness of the analyst and of the analytic process itself elicits a sometimes incoercible intolerance, which he mainly attributes to unconscious guilt.

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