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Frisch, S. Frisch-Desmarez, C. (2010). Some Thoughts on the Concept of the Internal Parental Couple. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 91(2):325-342.

(2010). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 91(2):325-342

Some Thoughts on the Concept of the Internal Parental Couple Language Translation

Serge Frisch and Christine Frisch-Desmarez

Some patients are incapable of engaging in a relationship with a partner on a long-term basis. To explain these relationship issues, they invoke reasons that have to do with external reality rather than with their own internal reality. The authors present several clinical examples that have given rise to an initial attempt at theorizing the concept of the internal couple: some patients fail to internalize a positive representation in which they can see themselves as part of a couple. Psychoanalysts tend to think of the father and mother (or their internal representatives) as separate entities, differentiated and complementary, and not in terms of a single object that brings them together as an internal couple. In the author's view, an internal parental couple is also internalized by the infant under the guise of various internal objects. The internal parental couple thus appears as a complex construction that goes beyond the mere addition of father plus mother. Underneath their neurotic veneer, these patients have severely damaged representations of internal parents and of the internal parental couple. Unable to identify with a stable and procreative internal parental couple, they tend also to attack the psychoanalytic couple. Early distortions in the oedipal sphere may be one cause of the stumbling-block they encounter on the way to introjecting a well-attuned couple-as-object and the idea of parenting.

(Final version accepted 23 September 2009)

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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