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Alvarez, A. Boch, S. fonagy, P. Mayes, L. Slade, A. Target, M. (2000). Discussion. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 1(3):89-106.

(2000). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 1(3):89-106


Anne Alvarez, Sheldon Boch, Peter fonagy, Linda Mayes, Arietto Slade and Mary Target

Mary Target: I think it's very cruel to start with the least clinically experienced person on the whole panel, but I'm glad we've got time and plenty of perspectives to discuss this very rich case material. There are so many different aspects directly relevant to what we've all been talking about. I'm going to try and pick up just one or two bits that illustrate some of what Peter and Gyuri and I were talking about last night and earlier today. So, if we ask a few questions about this woman's self, we know a little bit about how she saw herself as a child. There's Amelia Earhart, with the swagger, the androgynous clothes that she wears to analysis, the inhibited achievement of her effectiveness as a person, the retreat into being a boy as a child, and the poignant, pervasive, often silent sense of being just too much for everybody—or, I should say, being both not enough and too much simultaneously.

And what image does she have of the other person, going back to her parents? Unfortunately, some of the history had to be left out of the presentation but I think that what still comes across is the picture of a withdrawn father and absent mother, a mother who oscillates between abuse and rage and rejection. This may have been skimmed over in the history, but this was a mother who seriously thought about abortion and had in fact aborted a number of babies before Amelia was born, a mother who thought seriously about having her adopted after she was born. Amelia, in turn, was at very best ambivalently welcomed into the world and most likely rejected from the beginning. One can see how such a child grows up feeling not right, not wanted, in the wrong place at the wrong time. In later childhood, she tries to find a solution to this problem; if she radically changes herself, if she becomes a boy and not a girl, maybe that will make something feel better. I think it's interesting that she adopts that solution also in response to her father's own interests.

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