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Gottlieb, S. (1992). Failures in the Transformational Object. Brit. J. Psychother., 8(3):253-265.

(1992). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 8(3):253-265

Failures in the Transformational Object

Sue Gottlieb

This paper describes the hating, demanding, helpless behaviour of a borderline patient, which may be ascribed to the kind of early developmental failures in the primary ‘transformational object’ which leave the ego too impoverished to contain psychotic anxieties. The resultant ‘deficit transference’ is distinguished from a ‘conflict transference’. It is suggested that when the failing transformational object is sought within the transference, the patient is unable to internalise a good object. The possibility is explored that an autistic style of objectrelating may defend against anxieties about disintegration, and be a way of holding together the un-integrated ego.

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