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Hoge, H. (2006). Divorce at Childbirth: A Self-Psychological Perspective. Int. J. Psychoanal. Self Psychol., 1(2):175-195.
    

(2006). International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, 1(2):175-195

Divorce at Childbirth: A Self-Psychological Perspective

Hilary Hoge, M.D.

Transition to parenthood generates profound disruptions not only in one's sense of self, but also in one's relationship with a partner. As the inter-subjective field shifts from dyadic to triadic to include the baby, each partner's preexisting organizing principles may be severely challenged by the new triadic context. For couples entering the developmental stage of parenthood, expanding these organizing principles to encompass a new experience of threeness thus becomes a primary task.

When a parent's self-structure fails to accommodate the new triadic situation, narcissistic rage may erupt in an attempt to avoid or repair damage to the self. Sometimes this may lead to the search for another selfobject experience outside the marriage; alternatively, the new parent may turn precipitously against a previously loved partner. In either context, separation and divorce may be experienced as a traumatic event that cannot be grieved. Drawing on her clinical work, as well as her interview with Carol, the author illustrates these ideas and suggests ways that self-psychology may inform the treatment of such patients. Key to this process is the therapist's empathie holding of the patient's “whole” self—a recognition of the either/or organizing principles that previously led to the disavowal of essential aspects of the personality.

Finally, a couple's relationship provides important selfobject functions for the child. As important organizing principles are both formed and break down in a triadic context, the author suggests that the notion of the triadic interpersonal field be further explored.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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