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Durban, J. (2017). Home, homelessness and nowhere-ness in early infancy. J. Child Psychother., 43(2):175-191.

(2017). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 43(2):175-191

Home, homelessness and nowhere-ness in early infancy

Joshua Durban

The construction of a sense of home in early infancy is a complex achievement. It is intertwined throughout life with the child’s pursuit of a safe physio-mental coverage. This process will be described as an interaction between: (a) a safe dwelling in the body-as-mother (constitution); (b) the internalisation of the mother-as-me (internal object space) and (c) establishing Oedipal triangular space which is responsible for the capacity to move between narcissism-as-a-home and the world-as-a-home. The construction of a home as an interplay between these elements is accompanied by distinct anxieties and unconscious phantasies. Disruptions in this early process, due to deficit, internal object relations or environmental factors, might lead to severe pathologies, mindlessness, hatred, violence and murderousness. A distinction will be made between these mental states of being-at-home, homelessness and nowhere-ness based on the corresponding levels of early development and typical anxieties. Home and homelessness are seen as more developed states of object relating accompanied by some capacity for feelings of loss, mourning and longing. Nowhere-ness, however, stems from early states of anxieties-of-being which are characterised by confusion between self and object, by nameless grief, nameless dread and devastation. The varieties of home, homelessness and nowhere-ness will be discussed with the help of clinical material taken from an analysis of a refugee child on the autistic spectrum and of his father. The role of psychoanalysis and of the psychoanalyst in promoting the creation of an internal home will be described with reference to technique.

[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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