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Meltzer, D. (1975). Chapter IX: Dimensionality as a Parameter of Mental Functioning: its Relation to Narcissistic Organization. Explorations in Autism: A Psycho-Analytical Study, 223-238.

Meltzer, D. (1975). Chapter IX: Dimensionality as a Parameter of Mental Functioning: its Relation to Narcissistic Organization. Explorations in Autism: A Psycho-Analytical Study, 223-238

Chapter IX: Dimensionality as a Parameter of Mental Functioning: its Relation to Narcissistic Organization Book Information Previous Up Next

Donald Meltzer

It is of interest with regard to the psycho-analytical method that altered views on life-space found expression in the interpretive work long before they came as theoretical realizations. A delineation of the theory has therefore been left very pointedly for the end of this book in order that the clinical experiences upon which it is based, insofar as they relate to autistic children, will have become to some extent part of the reader's equipment. The same cannot be said of the manifestations of simplified dimensionality in non-autistic patients, and this will have to be set right. For this purpose it will be necessary to quote extensively from the pioneer paper of Mrs Esther Bick.

But first perhaps it would be useful to spell out the theoretical formulation briefly. It is our view that, insofar as an organism can be said to have a mental life and not merely to exist in a system of neurophysiological responses to the stimuli coming to it from internal and external sources, it lives in ‘the world’ and this world may be variously structured. One has perhaps become accustomed to think of ‘the world’ as four-dimensional and constituting the ‘life-space’ (K. Levin) of the organism. From the psycho-analytical viewpoint this life-space may be said to comprise the various compartments of the ‘geography of phantasy’ (Meltzer) moving on the dimension of time. This geography is ordinarily organized into four compartments: inside the self; outside the self; inside internal objects; inside external objects; and to these may sometimes, perhaps always, be added the fifth compartment, the ‘nowhere’ of the delusional system, outside the gravitational pull of good objects. The dimension of time on the other hand can be recognized to have a development from circularity to oscillation and finally to the linear time of ‘life-time’ for the individual, from conception to death.

We have now become aware that the spatial dimensionality also has a development, a view probably in fundamental accord with the ideas of Bion as described mainly in ‘Transformations

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