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Bonnard, A. (1958). Pre-Body-Ego Types of (Pathological) Mental Functioning. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 6:581-611.

(1958). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 6:581-611

Pre-Body-Ego Types of (Pathological) Mental Functioning

Augusta Bonnard

This communication is an exercise into the realms of the unknowable. The word "unknowable" is here used in a literal sense as follows: not only do we not know what is the quality and type of mental functioning in the first weeks or months of post-birth existence, but we are here attempting to appreciate the impact of phenomena on the infantile mind, before it either knows what they are, or whence they emanate. It is according to this passive designation of phenomena befalling us, that I would wish to place even such aim-directed activities as the infant's initial weeks or months of nuzzling for the nipple, or of crying if the nipple fails to impinge itself in spite of its "seeking" efforts. This example, expressed in quasi-mechanistic or reflex terms, is offered at the outset in order to introduce you to the ontogenetically undifferentiated levels of mental functioning with which this communication sets out to concern itself.

It has been customary to speak of the functions of narcissism, and of libido and its cathexis, as if they were in dynamic operation from the beginning. Instead, it may be more helpful to postulate that while these trends are already larval, especially in the infant in process of normal development, their evolution may be markedly modified if certain more archaic patterns of affective mental functioning hold sway, instead of being integrated as mere components. If this postulate is correct, then its corollary is worthy of consideration and clinical evaluation.

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