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Weinberg, R. (2016). The impossible reparation. J. Child Psychother., 42(2):152-162.

(2016). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 42(2):152-162

The impossible reparation

Ruth Weinberg

This article discusses the phantasy of returning to the past and symbiotically merging with the mother, which, in an autistic patient, constituted an attempt of impossible reparation. This mode of reparation resulted in a cycle in which any attempt to repair the inner experience by contact with an external object was destined to be disappointing because of the desire for an infantile connection without separateness. The author reviews the literature on reparation and emphasises recent developments resulting from work with Autism Spectrum Disorder children who are far from the depressive position and who have difficulty bearing separateness. The author recognises an essential positive aspect of reparation independent of the ability to perceive the object as separate and suggests that when working with very primitive emotional states, it seems suitable to use a wider definition for what can be considered essentially a primitive reparative act or a precursor for reparation. Next, the author discusses the significance of a phantasy of impossible reparation in an autistic girl with emphasis on the importance of considering the reparative aspects of this defensive phantasy to enable development. Finally, the author relates to the despair that occurs in both analyst and patient when the phantasy is not transformed.

[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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