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Hills, O.F. (1999). Ego Erection: Regressive Perceptual Phenomena in Relation to Psychic Growth. Psychoanal. St. Child, 54:259-288.

(1999). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 54:259-288

Ego Erection: Regressive Perceptual Phenomena in Relation to Psychic Growth

Oscar F. Hills, M.D.

Regressive phenomena involving alterations of perceptual and other ego functions are exemplified by the Isakower phenomenon. Originally considered to be a defensive process involving regression to the oral phase in the face of conflict, a number of additional dimensions have been clarified in the literature over time. This paper describes analytic work with a patient who experienced distortions in the perception of his body on the couch. It examines the relationship of these experiences to the Isakower phenomenon. With close attention to analytic case material, it corroborates the oral core, the defensive structure, and the transformational processes characteristic of the episodes. Further, this case demonstrates that orally rooted ego phenomena, arising in response to oedipal conflict, can call forth the analysis of attachment. The vicissitudes of these phenomena throughout an analysis can give representation to the developing capacity for emotional attachment. The capacity for physical attachment, achieved in infancy via the mouth and breast, gives rise incrementally to the capacity for psychic attachment, achieved in adulthood by the waning of the Oedipal complex.

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