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McDougall, J. (1984). The "Dis-Affected" Patient: Reflections on Affect Pathology. Psychoanal Q., 53:386-409.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:386-409

The "Dis-Affected" Patient: Reflections on Affect Pathology

Joyce McDougall


The author attempts to conceptualize a phenomenon that frequently passes unnoticed for a considerable period of time in the course of an analysis. An apparently "normal" psychoanalytic discourse may reveal that the analysand who produces it is using words and ideas that are largely, perhaps totally, devoid of affect for him; instead, the analyst tends to become "affected." This may appear in a wide variety of clinical categories: "narcissistic personality disorders," "psychosomatic personalities," "as-if characters," etc. The author does not seek to add to the clinical categories but to study, from the point of view of the psychic economy, the manner in which this specific form of psychic functioning is maintained: in other words, the vicissitudes of unavailable affect.

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