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Roth, D. Blatt, S.J. (1974). Spatial Representations and Psychopathology. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 22:854-872.

(1974). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 22:854-872

Spatial Representations and Psychopathology

David Roth, M.D. and Sidney J. Blatt, Ph.D.


The spatial parameters described have been found to serve as reliable auxiliary indices to the general level of psychological development and to offer valuable guides for the evaluation of psychological organization in diagnosis and treatment. Spatial representations are an integral part of the individual's attempt to understand and organize reality and to achieve individuation and differentiation. The development of object relations and advances in object constancy occur with progress in the separation of the self from objects and with increased differentiation and articulation of the self and of objects. These advances in the differentiation of self and objects can be evaluated by the cognitive development of spatial representations. Complex and developmentally advanced spatial representations indicate greater self and object differentiation and more mature object relations. Thus, spatial representations can be of considerable aid in evaluating the level and extent of psychopathology. Levels of spatial representation, which have evolving levels of complexity, may also be the cognitive matrix for the formation of defensive structures. The cognitive development of spatial representations appears to parallel and partake of more general

psychological development and therefore these constructs add considerable insight to the processes of clinical evaluation and treatment. Our clinical data indicate the value of these spatial dimensions in identifying the level of object relations, defenses, and the quality of the transference and transference neurosis in psychoanalysis and in psychotherapy.

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