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Niedecken, D. (2016). The Primal Scene and Symbol Formation. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(3):665-683.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(3):665-683

The Primal Scene and Symbol Formation

Dietmut Niedecken

A video abstract of this article can be viewed at: http://youtu.be/5XxKSQ3pgWw

(Accepted for publication 1 May 2014)

This article discusses the meaning of the primal scene for symbol formation by exploring its way of processing in a child's play. The author questions the notion that a sadomasochistic way of processing is the only possible one. A model of an alternative mode of processing is being presented. It is suggested that both ways of processing intertwine in the “fabric of life” (D. Laub). Two clinical vignettes, one from an analytic child psychotherapy and the other from the analysis of a 30 year-old female patient, illustrate how the primal scene is being played out in the form of a terzet. The author explores whether the sadomasochistic way of processing actually precedes the “primal scene as a terzet”. She discusses if it could even be regarded as a precondition for the formation of the latter or, alternatively, if the “combined parent-figure” gives rise to ways of processing. The question is being left open. Finally, it is shown how both modes of experiencing the primal scene underlie the discoursive and presentative symbol formation, respectively.

[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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