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Bergstein, A. (2009). On Boredom: A Close Encounter with Encapsulated Parts of the Psyche. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(3):613-631.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(3):613-631

Child and Adolescent Psychoanalysis

On Boredom: A Close Encounter with Encapsulated Parts of the Psyche Language Translation

Avner Bergstein

(Final version accepted 1 November 2008)

The psychoanalytical literature has numerous scattered references to the analyst's experience of boredom, especially amongst writers working with primitive mental states. In the present paper, the author tries to gather some of these references in an attempt to integrate the various facets of this widespread phenomenon, and reflect on some clinical issues and dilemmas it raises. It is suggested that the experience of boredom in analysis may be a reaction to an encounter with a hidden, encapsulated part of the psyche, a bidimensional area of experience in which mental activity has been suspended, and experience remains meaningless. This is a barren area of lack, an encounter with the autistic core of the psyche. However, boredom may also be an experiential expression of despair, a re-living of primitive object relations with an emotionally non-existent primary object. Through bringing the emptiness and desolation into analysis, the individual makes room for the empty, blunt, dead inner object which resides within him, and that needs to be integrated into the psyche. This inner object is a vital part of the patient's inner world, part of his history, and can neither be erased nor filled in order to eradicate the emptiness. This is illustrated by clinical material from patients along the spectrum of autism, autistic reaction following trauma and autistic barriers in neurotic patients.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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