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Myers, W.A. (1992). A Possible Hereditary Factor in the Isakower Phenomenon. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 40:1229-1230.

(1992). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 40:1229-1230

A Possible Hereditary Factor in the Isakower Phenomenon

Wayne A. Myers, M.D.

September 27, 1991

I am currently seeing in analysis two young people in their thirties who have reported a number of experiences of the Isakower phenomenon during the course of treatment. In both instances, these regressive ego states date back to the patients' teen years. One of the patients is male and the other female.

Both patients reported these sensations as happening primarily in the hypnagogic state, when they were falling asleep, and both of their descriptions of these occurrences closely parallel the phenomenology detailed in Isakower's (1938) original article. Specifically, both patients reported large, round objects moving toward them and pressing into or against their mouths, hands, and skin, and then receding in size as they moved away from them.

While regressive ego states are always of interest, what is especially noteworthy in these two cases is that both of the patients had mentioned having these Isakower phenomena to their parents, and had been surprised to be informed that each of their fathers had experienced similar occurrences. The psychoanalytic literature on this subject does not mention any instances of such altered ego states occurring in families; hence the reason for this report. While these two cases cannot be anything more than suggestive of the presence of a hereditary factor in the genesis of these states, it would be helpful for analysts who work with such patients to be on the lookout for other instances.



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