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(1973). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 42:487-487.

(1973). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 42:487-487

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

May 30, 1972. EARLY EGO DEVELOPMENT AND THE DÉJÀ VU. Bernard Pacella, M.D.

Dr. Pacella suggests that the déjà vu phenomenon is a defensive regression for the individual, which revives an early preverbal experience of the mother. In the face of a current threatening reality situation, and in order to provide the reassurance and security associated with the mother's gestalt at this early time in the child's life, there is a controlled transient regression of one aspect of the reality testing function of the ego. The unique sense of the familiar, which is the hallmark of this experience, relates to a visual representation of the mother in the first year of life; at this time the child feels that the mother is omnipotent and able to protect him from harm, is totally good, and, most significant in terms of the present defensive needs, belongs to him alone. Two clinical cases are presented, one from a 1959 paper on déjà vu by Arlow and the second an analysand of the author. For both patients the current situation aroused castration anxiety related to the Oedipal phase.

In reviewing the early preverbal period, Dr. Pacella stressed the importance of the visual modality, which according to Spitz shifts from the tactile modality at about four weeks of age. The author feels that it then becomes increasingly important in the development of object relationship and constancy, and the ego. In relation to déjà vu, the process described by Mahler as scanning and seen in the infant toward the end of the first year was emphasized.

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