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Magnenat, L. (2016). Psychosomatic Breast and Alexithymic Breast: A Bionian Psychosomatic Perspective. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(1):41-63.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(1):41-63

Psychosomatic Breast and Alexithymic Breast: A Bionian Psychosomatic Perspective

Luc Magnenat

(Accepted for publication 20 May 2015)

The author develops the concept of ‘psychosomatic breast’ in both clinical and theoretical terms, a concept developed by Bion (1962b) to account for a breast in charge of primary symbolization and of the psychosomatic integration of the infant's raw physiological, emotional and sensory experiences. As such, the psychosomatic breast is a prototype, a core in the mother endowed with the capacity for reverie insofar as the transformative function of the latter not only pertains to the primary symbolization of emotional life, but also to its secondary symbolization. The author contends that a primal failure in the transformation of such raw emotional and sensory experiences through the reverie of primary objects results in the incorporation of an ‘alexithymic breast’ - a kind of obstructive object that has become impervious to communication via projective identification and has been internalized as a source of psychic and physical breakdown. This early deficiency in parental reverie is experienced by the infant as a primitive disaster that establishes a point of fixation, a fault line in psychosomatic organization which the individual is likely to regress to, at a later stage, by developing physical illness. The author illustrates the dynamics and the economy of the conflict between psychosomatic and alexithymic breasts thanks to fragments from the analysis of a woman who developed cancer in the course of her psychoanalysis and was eventually cured.

[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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