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Kalsched, D.E. (2015). Revisioning Fordham's ‘Defences of the Self’ in Light of Modern Relational Theory and Contemporary Neuroscience. J. Anal. Psychol., 60(4):477-496.

(2015). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 60(4):477-496

Revisioning Fordham's ‘Defences of the Self’ in Light of Modern Relational Theory and Contemporary Neuroscience

Donald E. Kalsched, Ph.D.

This paper explores the evolution of Michael Fordham's ideas concerning ‘defences of the self’, including his application of this concept to a group of ‘difficult’ adult patients in his famous 1974 paper by the same name. After tracing the relevance of Fordham's ideas to my own discovery of a ‘self-care system’ in the psychological material of early trauma patients (Kalsched 1996), I describe how Fordham's seminal notions might be revisioned in light of contemporary relational theory as well as early attachment theory and affective neuroscience. These revisionings involve an awareness that the severe woundings of early unremembered trauma are not transformable through interpretation but will inevitably be repeated in the transference, leading to mutual ‘enactments’ between the analytic partners and, hopefully, to a new outcome. A clinical example of one such mutual enactment between the author and his patient is provided. The paper concludes with reflections on the clinical implications of this difficult case and what it means to become a ‘real person’ to our patients. Finally, Jung's alchemical views on transference are shown to be useful analogies in our understanding of the necessary mutuality in the healing process with these 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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