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Mahler, M.S. (1975). Discussion of Bernard L. Pacella's Paper "Early Ego Development and the Déjà Vu". J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 23:322-326.

(1975). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 23:322-326

Discussion of Bernard L. Pacella's Paper "Early Ego Development and the Déjà Vu"

Margaret S. Mahler, M.D.

AN ATTEMPT TO DISCUSS the rich details of Dr. Pacella's paper has led me to undertake a research project in its own right, to present the results of which now certainly would go far beyond the scope of a short discussion.

Taking Dr. Arlow's classical paper, "The Structure of Déjà Vu Experience," as his point of departure, Dr. Pacella has attempted to apply the open-ended dimensions of presentday psychoanalytic metapsychology to deduce from these relatively rarely discussed déjà mechanisms, the material that lies beyond the basic or primal repression barrier, at which most psychoanalytic writers have thus far stopped their clinical and theoretical investigations.

To me, efforts to go beyond that line of primal repression are courageous undertakings, which are promising, indeed fascinating, and without which I believe psychoanalytic research would become self-limiting. Those efforts constitute a long overdue challenge to rethink what Freud left for us to work out. With Dr. Pacella, I think that the fabric of déjà phenomena might derive from a point far behind the oedipal situation, from a time when images were primary and words secondary.


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