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Maguire, J.G. (1978). The Transference Enactment of Early Body-Image Determinants. Ann. Psychoanal., 6:181-207.

(1978). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 6:181-207

The Transference Enactment of Early Body-Image Determinants

J. Gordon Maguire, M.D.

Early psychic states have traditionally posed special difficulties for both the theory and practice of psychoanalysis. To a science that relies, though not exclusively, on language as a most important vehicle both operationally and conceptually, the risk of “adultomorphism” (Lichtenberg, 1975p. 457) is particularly serious. However, venturing into the “unknowable” (Bonnard, 1958) through the specific application of the psychoanalytic process, can assist greatly in the elucidation of those early psychological and prepsychological states that we deem so essential to the determination of healthy personality or its pathological vicissitudes. The “special kind of history” (Schafer, 1976pp. 181-182) that we reconstruct in the psychoanalytic situation, that we formulate through the use of our concepts, theories, and techniques, that allows us to discover and appreciate new configurations directly or through “thought experimentation or action thought” (Kohut, 1975, 1977) contributes substantially to our understanding of these early phenomena. It is the purpose of this paper to report on such an exercise as it pertains to the use of the transference neurosis both in the rehabilitation of a patient's defective body image as well as in the clarification of some of the early psychological and prepsychological determinants of that image.

Although an exhaustive or detailed survey of the literature on each of the principal elements of this paper is beyond the purview of a clinical presentation, it is, nonetheless, germane to indicate certain broad areas of agreement among analysts on these subjects, since an operational, and to a lesser extent, conceptual alternative is being offered here in the management of psychoanalytic data, particularly that emanating from the transference neurosis.

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