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Garza-Guerrero, C. (2000). Idealization and Mourning in Love Relationships: Normal and Pathological Spectra. Psychoanal Q., 69(1):121-150.

(2000). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 69(1):121-150

Idealization and Mourning in Love Relationships: Normal and Pathological Spectra

César Garza-Guerrero, M.D.

Prior to the last two decades, psychoanalytic literature focused on the psychopathology of sexual life, rather than on an integrated overview of love relationships. Only in the last twenty-five years has its scope been expanded to include the psychodynamics and phenomenology of love relationships per se. Nevertheless, a selective, critical review of the literature indicates that little attention has been paid to a) the interrelation of narcissism, self-esteem, and love relationships; b) the role of the ego-ideal and idealizations in the capacity for falling in love and sustaining love relationships; and c) the faculty for, and/or impediments to, transcending intrapsychic self-boundaries in mature love relationships. In this paper, a brief exposition of the ego-ideal developmental sequences and their integration into the superego as a differentiated structure serves as an introduction to the proposal of a developmental continuum of mechanisms of idealization and their respective nodal transmutations throughout the life cycle. This developmental continuum may contribute to the ongoing elucidation of the aforementioned problems. This referential frame is ultimately applied to the exploration of categorical and dimensional pathological variations of idealization and mourning in love relationships and in different levels of personality organization:

neurotic, borderline, and narcissistic structures. A clinical vignette illustrates some of the correspondence criteria between this frame of reference and its clinical applications.

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