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Hartmann, H. (2004). Mirroring and Mentalizing: A Discussion of Nancy VanDerHeide's Clinical Case. Progress in Self Psychology, 20:253-258.

(2004). Progress in Self Psychology, 20:253-258

Mirroring and Mentalizing: A Discussion of Nancy VanDerHeide's Clinical Case Related Papers

Hans-Peter Hartmann, M.D., Ph.D.

In connection with this case report I would like to quote Christel Schöttler (1993, personal communication), who observed with regard to such difficulties as are described here: no development without involvement.

Josh quickly develops the form of relationship to his analyst that he experienced as vitalizing with his mother: He feels erotically attracted to his analyst, idealizes her, and does everything to bring her to a state in which she would reciprocate his desire. The repetitive aspect of the transference thus comes into the picture, together with Josh's lack of conviction that he can experience himself in any other way. This repetitive transference mode represents a form of bondage which is also reflected in Josh's addiction problems. Addictive behavior originates with the incapacity to be able to soothe the self.

In Josh's case, the early affect mirroring (Gergely and Watson,1996) appears to be severely disturbed by a narcissistically abusive mother as well as physically abusive parents. In contrast to Kohut's mirror transference, affect mirroring is described quite differently first by Gergely and Watson (1996) and later by Fonagy et al. (2002) as a process in which the parents in reaction to the infant's emotion expression “mark their affect mirroring displays to make them perceptually differentiated from their realistic emotion expressions” (p. 177). Thus the infant notices this markedness. According to Dornes (2000): “They [the parents] confront him/her with an ‘as-if’ joy…. They ‘play' with his/her smile in their response [pretend play].

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