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Rosenfeld, H. (1947). Analysis of a Schizophrenic State with Depersonalization. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 28:130-139.

(1947). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 28:130-139

Analysis of a Schizophrenic State with Depersonalization

Herbert Rosenfeld


I will briefly summarize my conclusions from the analysis of this case.

Schizoid processes, including depersonalization, can be used by the ego as a defence-mechanism at comparatively late stages of development. They are, however, processes which affect the very structure of the ego, causing varying degrees of splitting and projection of the ego. These processes are related to the working within the ego of destructive impulses, which are felt to be alien (split off) and therefore persecutors. Oral and anal sadistic impulses, directed against the inside of mother's body, also increase the persecutory anxiety. These factors suggest an origin of these schizoid mechanisms on a paranoid level, which weakens the subsequent development of the ego. The

weakened ego of my patient felt the birth of the brother and the circumstances related to it as a shock, and a considerable regression took place through which the schizoid processes became reinforced.

Depersonalization is still considered by psychiatrists and psycho-analysts alike as a very obscure subject. It is often found in the beginning or end of a neurosis or psychosis; it accompanies some organic diseases of the brain, schizophrenic conditions, depressions, obsessional neurosis, hysterical conditions, and has been described as a separate disease entity.

I have tried to show in this paper that there is a definite relationship between the schizoid process and depersonalization. The schizoid splitting mechanisms described were manifested both in the schizoid ego-disintegration and in the depersonalization of my patient. I suggest, therefore, that there is a quantitative difference only between the two clinical states. Among analysts, Helene Deutsch (1942) has drawn attention to certain emotional states similar to depersonalization, and their relationship to schizophrenia, and lately Melanie Klein (1946) has suggested that in depersonalization regression to the paranoid schizoid position takes place.

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