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Mordant, I. (1990). Using Attribute-Memories to Resolve a Contradiction in the Work of Matte-Blanco. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 17:475-480.

(1990). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 17:475-480

Using Attribute-Memories to Resolve a Contradiction in the Work of Matte-Blanco

Ian Mordant


In 1984 Ross Skelton published an article in the International Journal claiming that Matte-Blanco's work is fatally flawed by an annihilating contradiction between the two principles that are its basis. Matte-Blanco gave his reply (1984). This paper attempts to clarify what is at stake in such a way as to propose a solution to the problem.

The solution is firstly to observe that primary process functions in memory, and that a particular person's memories of a thing are his or her memories of its attributes. These are this person's attribute-memories of that thing. We suggest that Matte-Blanco's fundamental idea that primary process functions by a type of symmetrization results from primary process making its registrations of sameness and of difference via a tiny number of attribute-memories. Thus the schizophrenic who says 'my arm is my body' could be classifying by a tiny number of attribute-memories in common—such as the body and its arm being both flesh-covered.

In this approach there ceases to be any general 'Principle of Symmetry'; it is replaced by a particular person's particular symmetrizations.

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