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Williams, P. (2019). Isolation. Psychoanal. Dial., 29(1):1-12.

(2019). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 29(1):1-12


Paul Williams, Ph.D.

This paper reflects upon Winnicott’s term “the isolate” or “incommunicado self,” which must remain hidden for personality development to proceed satisfactorily. Paradoxically, the (of necessity) concealed isolate or True Self accedes to the personality’s dependence on an object for this development to take place. The impact of trauma on the isolate and the formation of pathological isolation are considered. The outcome of analysis with a traumatized person is contingent upon the type of narcissistic defenses employed to protect the isolate that has experienced impingement and exposure, with the adverse consequences for personality development this entails. A particular form of narcissistic withdrawal into what Green terms “deobjectalization” and “negative narcissism” is examined as a way in which the death instinct can infuse the personality’s defense of the isolate, limiting radically what may be analyzed. A clinical example is given.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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