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Wangh, M. (1954). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 23:160-163.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 23:160-163

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

Martin Wangh

June 9, 1953. ON PSYCHOTIC IDENTIFICATIONS. Edith Jacobson, M.D.

The author purposes to compare the narcissistic identifications of schizophrenia with those of the manic-depressive psychoses. She briefly reviews the developmental stages of the identification mechanism. She postulates that at first, in the very young infant, we are dealing with 1, self-representations; 2, object representations. In the psychoses not only the object world but also the world of the self as an integrated entity is apt to break down and to be replaced by unrealistic concepts. In early infancy, there is no clear delimitation of the boundaries between the self and the love objects. Magic fusion and refusion between self and object is experienced upon close physical contact. Thus, the infant participates in the parental omnipotence. To imitate the parent is to be him. Ego and superego identifications arise from the striving not to be one with, or to be, the love object, but to become like him in the future. Ego identifications are realistic and they achieve real changes in the ego which justify, at least partly, the feeling of being like the object. In her paper the author intends to study the breakdown of object relations and normal identifications and their replacement by regressively revived magic identification mechanisms in a manic-depressive and in a schizophrenic case. The manic-depressive treats himself in his delusions of grandeur or worthlessness as though he were, respectively, the good, aggrandized or bad, devaluated object. The schizophrenic, on the other hand, in the prepsychotic state tends to behave as though he were the admired love object and, when delusional, may consciously believe he has become another object. Dr. Jacobson illustrates the first group by the case of a woman at the start of her depressive episode. Endless complaints about her husband, stressing his aggressiveness and worthlessness, insiduously turned into complaints about herself. One day the patient said: 'I am so confused, I don't know whether I complain about my husband or myself.

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