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Proner, B. (1988). Envy of Oneself, Adhesive Identification and Pseudo-Adult States. J. Anal. Psychol., 33(2):143-163.

(1988). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 33(2):143-163

Envy of Oneself, Adhesive Identification and Pseudo-Adult States

Barry Proner, B.A, M.D.

Recently I have been struck by a tendency in a number of my patients, both child and adult, to suffer from abnegation of a particularly virulent kind. These are often sensitive and creative people who appear to be unable to bear the responsibility for their good qualities, good feelings or good thoughts. They seem to abhor the merest hint of appreciation from others and feel deeply and genuinely threatened by any recognition of their worth. On the other hand, criticism is also painful, as it is an outside confirmation of all the contempt they feel towards themselves. This contempt is often a closely-kept secret, however, and to all appearances these are highly competent people. Moreover, they frequently have a very knowing and confident air, more adult than any adult, more parental than any parent.

Although, in the transference-countertransference relation, deep infantile envy of the analyst and the good world that the patient believes him to contain, but which the patient has split off inside from his own self, does account for a certain amount of this problem, I am not referring to the clear-cut envy of the inner world of the other, which is frequently met in analysis. Contrary to the state of mind in which the object (the analyst, in this case) is seen as ideally well-endowed, while the subject, the patient, experiences himself to contain all the badness, we find a situation in which there appears in the material of the patient quite evident envy of all the good things in himself. It is an envy which inhibits the enjoyment of his own good qualities and can at times even obliterate, in such a patient, all sense of those qualities. In relation to the analyst, this can mean that the patient cannot bear for very long the existence of a good connection between them, or to make use of his offerings.

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