Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To see Abram’s analysis of Winnicott’s theories…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

In-depth analysis of Winnicott’s psychoanalytic theorization was conducted by Jan Abrams in her work The Language of Winnicott. You can access it directly by clicking here.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Lafarge, L. (1989). Emptiness as Defense in Severe Regressive States. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 37:965-995.

(1989). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 37:965-995

Emptiness as Defense in Severe Regressive States

Lucy Lafarge, M.D.


This paper examines the empty states experienced by severely ill borderline patients. At times of stressful regression, these patients use complaints of emptiness to describe profound disturbances of affect, cognition, object relations, and bodily experience. Empty states may be seen as complex defensive configurations which protect a borderline level of psychic structure from the impact of aggressively charged object relations, and ward off further regression to states of fragmentation or fusion. Severely ill borderline patients consolidate an empty screen by means of a characteristic repertoire of primitive defenses consisting of various forms of projective identification, including bitriangulation and projective identification of psychic agencies, somatization, acting out, and specific alterations in cognition. The author describes the highly deviant organizations of the object world seen in empty states, and the complex and disturbing countertransferences which these states evoke.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2019, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.