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Fenichel, O. (1925). An Infantile, Preliminary Phase of 'Defiance by Lack of Affect'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 6:452-454.

(1925). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 6:452-454

An Infantile, Preliminary Phase of 'Defiance by Lack of Affect'

Otto Fenichel

There is a type of patient, as Ferenczi has quite recently pointed out, who produces no phantasies invested with affect, nor indeed any genuine affect at all, and who speaks of the most agitating experiences and recollections without becoming in the least agitated. A patient of mine uses this lack of affect entirely for purposes of resistance. He expresses his defiance of the rules of analysis by a complete indifference to analysis itself and to the analyst. I have been able to ascertain that this stoical equanimity has always been his most powerful weapon throughout the rest of his life as well. He has been in the habit of tormenting father-substitutes almost to death; he works them into a violent passion in order that he may express his own superiority by remaining entirely without emotion.

The patient came for treatment on account of obsessional characteristics; in spite of numerous sexual relationships he is wholly on the anal-sadistic level of libidinal organization. The sadistic nature of his unemotional defiance is obvious: it is designed to annihilate his father; but the anal roots of this attitude could at first only be inferred by the analyst, until at last the following recollection emerged. In his childhood, when he happened to be engaged in games of an obsessional character and his father told him to come for a walk, he used to elude this order by going to the water-closet and continuing to sit there with perfect equanimity for hours at a time, until his father outside had exhausted his anger and had gone for a walk without him.

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