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Isaksson, A. (2005). The containing object: A prerequisite for developing the symbolic function. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 28(2):74-81.

(2005). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 28(2):74-81

The containing object: A prerequisite for developing the symbolic function

AnnaLena Isaksson

The paper aims at investigating the prerequisites for the process of symbolisation to develop and to be used by the personality. The starting point for this exploration is the psychoanalysis with a little boy of four and a half, who started analysis because of an encopresis that was an expression of an overwhelming and concrete annihilation anxiety. It is argued that the symbolisation process has its basis in the relation to a real, reliable object and that this relation is a prerequisite for the child to start trying to transmit his experiences. The clinical material shows the boy's efforts to find an object capable of containing his anxiety and giving words to his unbearable affects, and the way this is worked through in the transference. This process contributed to his growing capacity to use symbols as an expression of his emotional experiences and it offered him a way of thinking about them instead of acting them out concretely.

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