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Malcolm, R.R. (1990). As-If: the Phenomenon of not Learning. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 71:385-392.

(1990). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 71:385-392

As-If: the Phenomenon of not Learning

Ruth Riesenberg Malcolm


In this paper I discuss a clinical problem presented by those patients who, instead of using analysis as an emotional learning experience, invest all their energies in keeping it in a static condition. Using the material of four patients, I illustrate how they have an underlying state of disintegration which is contained in a precarious enclosure. The patients experience great difficulty in facing this situation and preventing further disintegration. I describe a particular type of splitting, which I call 'slicing', by which they achieve an arrest of further disintegrative processes, and for which they need the continuous existence of a useless analysis. I link this situation with Bion's concept of 'minus K'.

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