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Molinari, E. (2014). Action across emptiness. J. Child Psychother., 40(3):239-253.

(2014). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 40(3):239-253


Action across emptiness

Elena Molinari

This paper examines how autism may affect the processing and containing of emotions and sensations. At the beginning of life we can hypothesise that the baby develops two means of processing experience: containment that involves a sensory and mimetic trace of relational experience (proto-containment) and containment which, through the α function and projective and introjective functions translates feelings into meaning (♀/♂). Both these means of processing emotional experience remain active throughout life but oscillate the one with the other. The main hypothesis of this work is that the autistic child is not able to oscillate between real containment (♀/♂) and a primitive form of proto-containment. The author aims to explore, through clinical material, the factors which may promote this oscillation. Autistic children often use non-verbal communication. The author examines how a particular type of action can cross the relational void in the therapeutic relationship through a process that can transform feelings of great distress in the analyst via acts that can be described as an Act of Faith, as described by Bion. This form of action that can cross the void is like an artistic performance.

[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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