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Cesarei, A.O. (2005). Early trauma and narcissism-autism bipolarity. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(3):657-675.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(3):657-675

Early trauma and narcissism-autism bipolarity

Anna Oliva de Cesarei

The analyst makes a series of considerations taken—a posteriori— from the analysis of a small number of patients. These patients have saved themselves from an early narcissistic catastrophe by developing precocious mental processes, while affective relationships rudimentarily repeat the impact with the original trauma. Primitive defences, essentially denial and vertical splitting, dissociate the tear in the psyche and structure a ‘narcissism-autism bipolarity’, revealed in aspects of the character which oblige the patient to automatically repeat a single matrix of experience. In therapy, it is necessary to construct a ‘first time of the trauma’, by finding and linking threads of the primary relationship and strengthening them in the analytic relationship. This reconstruction of the background, a screen to project what had originally been rejected, is the prerequisite for coming out, in deferred action, from the hold of the pathological identifications. The author dedicates particular attention to the undifferentiated background, the nature-environment torn by the trauma, and to the need to reconstruct this fabric of experience in the analytical relationship, as a fundamental element to the recomposition of the dissociated nuclei. In the clinical case, the analyst describes in particular how the analyst's words encounter an unbridgeable gap, a failure in the capacity for representation when opening the autistic nucleus. Through a regression lasting for about a year, a patient was able to live the experience of ‘primitive agonies’ and that of an unbearable helplessness and, at the same time, was able to feel how the analyst supported her sense of existence. Subsequently, the patient was able to give shape, through visual images, to deep states of being and start the process of metabolising and symbolising the trauma.

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