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Lutenberg, J.M. (2009). Alpha-Transformation, Mental Void, and Edition. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 18(2):86-89.

(2009). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 18(2):86-89

Alpha-Transformation, Mental Void, and Edition

Jaime M. Lutenberg

Translated by:
Silvia Feld, Marco Conci and Judith File

There are patients whose outstanding feature is a particular difficulty in “communicating with themselves.” According to Bion, who reconceptualized Freud's theory, all of us have in our inner world the potential for both producing and blocking alpha-transformations. When they are blocked, beta-elements are formed, which are unable to generate thought. Our capacity to think and to think “ourselves” depends exclusively on alpha-elements. Patients suffering from problems derived from a compensated “structural mental void” are unable to think. Following Bion, the “non-edited” would, generally speaking, be one of the facts that condition the formation of beta-elements. The production of beta-elements transforms these personalities into “functional illiterates.” To what extent can we ignore the “novelties” that these patients present us with through the production of beta-elements and “bizarre objects”? I wonder whether the concepts of “repetition” and “re-edition,” as they are currently used in the clinical process, are not actually casting a shadow over our minds, thus thwarting our ability to assess the total dimension of this “functional illiterate” condition. The analyst's mind can be the first link in a patient's chain of unthinkable thoughts: (1) repetition; (2) embryonic thoughts; (3) the non-edited; (4) structural mental void; (5) functional illiterate; and (6) mental abortions.

(Received 19 June 2008; accepted 20 February 2009)

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