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Wilson, A. (1986). Archaic Transference and Anaclitic Depression: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on the Treatment of Severely Disturbed Patients. Psychoanal. Psychol., 3(3):237-256.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 3(3):237-256

Archaic Transference and Anaclitic Depression: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on the Treatment of Severely Disturbed Patients

Arnold Wilson, Ph.D.

Both archaic transferences and anaclitic depression, though often thought of as reflective of a regressed mental organization, are often found in the analytic material of neurotic patients as well. The subjective sensation of emptiness does not imply a deficit condition, but rather an affect which can be analyzed. Unlike anxiety and guilt-ridden depression, anaclitic depression does not perform a signal function. It tends to be “quiet” (i.e., does not exert a pressing interpersonal claim on the other through archaic transference wishes) when a person is not in need of external regulation and is capable of momentary depression tolerance. We can observe two parallel developmental lines: (a) from anaclitic to guilt-ridden depression, and (b) from archaic to oedipal transferences. The two are held to possess parallels, despite their seeming disparity. Reports describing anaclitic depression and its implications for technique originate from clinicians of multiple orientations, including object relations theorists, ego psychologists, and self psychologists.

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