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Tip: To go directly to an article using its bibliographical details…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

If you know the bibliographic details of a journal article, use the Journal Section to find it quickly. First, find and click on the Journal where the article was published in the Journal tab on the home page. Then, click on the year of publication. Finally, look for the author’s name or the title of the article in the table of contents and click on it to see the article.

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Simha-Alpern, A. (2019). Touch Me, But Don’t Get Under My Skin: The Skin-Ego and the Conflicting Needs for Connection and Protection. Psychoanal. Perspect., 16(1):70-87.

(2019). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 16(1):70-87

Touch Me, But Don’t Get Under My Skin: The Skin-Ego and the Conflicting Needs for Connection and Protection

Amira Simha-Alpern, Ph.D.

This paper is inspired by Anzieu’s concept of the “skin-ego” as a psychic agency distinguished by a set of ego functions that are symbolic representations of the three main physiological functions of the skin: a primary mode of communication with others, a protective barrier from the external world, and a container of internal organs. The author suggests skin-ego configurations along three qualitative dimensions: sensitivity, permeability, and elasticity. As the imaginary space in which fantasies, dreams, thoughts, and psychopathological formations are established, the skin-ego affects how one negotiates subjectivity and intersubjectivity. The author presents two patients whose skin-ego functions were compromised by early trauma to illustrate how their skin-ego characteristics shape the way they negotiate their contradictory, coexisting needs to connect with others and to protect against the other’s potential impingements. The implications of skin-ego functions to the therapeutic process, as well as the therapist’s skin-ego functions, are also discussed.

[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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