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Meltzer, D. (1968). Terror, Persecution, Dread—a Dissection of Paranoid Anxieties. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 49:396-400.

(1968). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 49:396-400

Terror, Persecution, Dread—a Dissection of Paranoid Anxieties

Donald Meltzer

This brief paper is intended as a contribution to the exploration of the paranoid-schizoid position in object relations, as defined by Melanie Klein. It is the result of analytic work employing the deeper understanding of personality made possible by her discoveries of the role of splitting processes in the formation of psychic structure and the mechanism of projective identification in the dynamics of object relations.

A spectrum of psychic pains is subsumed under the category of paranoid anxieties, the study of which has been begun in detail by other authors, for instance, confusion by Rosenfeld, catastrophic anxiety by Segal and Bion, nameless dread by Bion. Less well-defined terms such as hopelessness, despair, helplessness must also be dealt with, but this paper is limited to three: terror, persecution, and dread. I attempt to define these metapsychologically and to show their place and interaction in the analytical process, employing a case presentation to show them at work and their interrelation.

Case Material

Although this cultured and intelligent man in his late thirties entered analysis because of somatic symptoms, extensive character pathology was soon revealed. Early in analysis the narcissistic structure expressed itself clearly as in the following dream. He was walking uphill on a lonely woodland track and saw another man about his age, a former business client of very paranoid disposition, ahead of him. When the track divided, instead of going to the right as he had intended, he followed the other man, going down onto a beach which he recognized as belonging to the village where he had been born (and from which he had departed at the age of 6 months when his parents emigrated).

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