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Mendelsohn, E. (2011). The Not-Me and the Loving Self. Psychoanal. Perspect., 8(1):62-71.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 8(1):62-71

The Not-Me and the Loving Self

Eric Mendelsohn, Ph.D.

This paper recounts a piece of clinical living arising from the intersection of the defensive and loving experience of patient and therapist. It considers how a characterological and interactive impasse may become sequestered in the realm of the not-me. The ability to bear shame and loss and to gather in that which has yet to be recognized and experienced can render accessible and workable our disidentifications with others, and can facilitate the ability to be lovingly present.

This is a clinical story, a personal story, and the story of their intersection.

MICHAEL WAS A DISSATISFIED AND PETULANT MAN, DISAPPOINTED with his achievements and prospects. Possessed of movie star looks, he was a magnet for beautiful, mostly younger women who wanted to like him but who, invariably and soon, grew tired of his peevishness, emotional stinginess, and oppressive sense of inadequacy. Alienated by his self-absorption, they left him before any relationship grew beyond the most preliminary stages of need and knowing. While these endings were depicted by Michael with a mix of relief and embittered dismissiveness, lurking around the edges of this repetitive choreography was a haunting and painful sense of insufficiency, a conviction that he had little to give and would never rise to any meaningful challenge, or truly come through for anyone.

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