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Modell, A.H. (1980). Affects and their Non-Communication. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 61:259-267.

(1980). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 61:259-267

Affects and their Non-Communication

Arnold H. Modell


The non-communication of affects is the most evident form of defence in a certain group of narcissistic patients. This non-communication of affects may take the direct form of a state of non-relatedness or may be disguised as the communication of false affects or affects that serve the function of inducing corresponding feelings in the object. We have examined in detail the motives for this non-communication and its implications for a more general theory of affects. Although the motives are variegated we have observed the recurrent wish to control omnipotently the affects of others. We have understood the induction of dysphoric affects in the transference and countertransference as the wish to recreate actively what has been experienced passively. It is an attempt to bring the trauma arising from the external world into the internal world and thus to create an illusion of mastery and control. This is analogous to Freud's description of the child's game in 'Beyond the pleasure principle'.

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