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Peto, A. (1955). On So-Called "Depersonalization". Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 36:379-386.

(1955). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 36:379-386

On So-Called "Depersonalization"

Andrew Peto


I assume that depersonalization phenomena, in clinical experience, in the transference neurosis, in the course of normal development and as illustrated in folklore, all refer to a common basic process. This is a phase of defusion of the two basic instincts—as postulated by Freud—that always occurs during mental activity that is not in the service of immediate drive gratification. I suggest that this is a repetition of a universal human experience; that of the baby who loses the nipple from his mouth. I suggest that this experience represents the inevitable transitory phase between the trauma of losing the object and the defensive stage of coping with this loss through integrating the lost object into the ego with the help of some archaic defence mechanism.

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