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De Litvan, M.A. Manzano, J. (2005). Intergenerational transmission of psychopathology. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(2):517-520.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(2):517-520

Intergenerational transmission of psychopathology

Reported by:
Marina Altmann De Litvan and Moderator Juan Manzano

The objective of the paper by Marina Altmann and M. Luzardo, ‘Working on the frontiers of clinical practice and empirical research. Patterns of verbal and non-verbal interaction’, was to describe clinical work with a mother-infant dyad, accompanied by microanalytic research on the sessions of that same treatment, and to visualize, from the perspective of these two methodologies, what happens in intergenerational transmission of pathology.

Taking as a starting point the clinical material from a 13-month course of mother- infant psychoanalytic psychotherapy, co-author Altmann set out a complementary analysis: a) from the perspective of clinical work; and b) from microanalytic research on the patterns of pathological interaction, with an intergenerational perspective. The mother presented very concrete, very unreflective psychic functioning. Her narrative told of abandonment, loss, traumatic experiences, an adolescent pregnancy that presented organic disruptions (hypertension) and concluded with pre-eclampsia in labor. Her accounts revolved around present-day situations, her ties in the institution where she lives and her difficulties containing her daughter. The accounts reveal what she rejects, what she hides and what she does not symbolize. The anxieties of this mother are fundamentally paranoid, and she operates with splitting and projective identification mechanisms which she deposits, massively, on her daughter. She does not recognize her hatred and hostility toward her daughter, but projects it with her body.

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