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Nininger, E.V. (1966). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 35:477-479.

(1966). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 35:477-479

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

Eugene V. Nininger

DISCUSSION: Dr. John McDevitt thought that rather than reality constancy evolving out of object constancy, it might be more useful to see the two as developing simultaneously out of an animate and inanimate environment in which a consistent positive relationship to the mother is crucial. A disturbance in this relationship would affect both object constancy and the line of development from the body to the toy, as described by Anna Freud. Also of importance to both would be those cognitive ego functions described by Piaget, which account for a permanent object at around eighteen months. From direct observation of psychotic and borderline children, Dr. McDevitt has found disturbances of reality constancy similar to those in Dr. Frosch's adult patients.

Dr. Edith Jacobson thought reality constancy might be better seen as the result of structures rather than a structure in itself. She felt it would be helpful to be more specific about the relationships at different phases between object and reality constancy; for instance, the importance of identification with the parent of the same sex during latency and his role at that time as a teacher of 'good' and 'bad' reality. For example, a psychotic girl said, 'How can I relate to reality? My mother taught me a false reality, such as that I was a genius.' As an example of how object and reality constancy can break down in a normal person in the presence of danger, Dr. Jacobson cited a doctor who had hallucinations while crossing the Atlantic in a sailboat; they disappeared on his arrival on shore.

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