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(1977). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 46:722-723.

(1977). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 46:722-723

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society


Dr. Bergmann suggested that the appearance of phobic symptoms is related to residual defects in an unsatisfactory separation-individuation process, with an incomplete unification of the good and bad mental representations of the object. After reviewing the differentiation between psychopathology stemming from the oedipal period, which requires sufficient psychic structuralization for internalized conflict to be present, and psychopathology stemming from preoedipal stages of development at the time of structure formation, which results in pathogenic developmental arrest, Dr. Bergmann delineated three different phobic patterns. Certain early stress responses to a noncomforting internalized maternal representation are related to actual inadequate mothering that took place before internalization. Somatic stress responses, avoidance behavior, or rage toward the mother are typical examples. Later phobic character formation is believed to begin during the rapprochement subphase, whenever the mother does not adequately support and enjoy the emergence of the child's independent activities. Because the child equates independence with object loss, there will be inhibition of independent functioning (locomotor, curiosity) and a clinging, close, and hostile relationship with the mother. The residual defects in the separation-individuation process, as they become part of the patient's character, result in the phobic character.

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