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Orbach, I. (2007). From Abandonment to Symbiosis A Developmental Reversal in Suicidal Adolescents. Psychoanal. Psychol., 24(1):150-166.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 24(1):150-166

From Abandonment to Symbiosis A Developmental Reversal in Suicidal Adolescents

Israel Orbach, Ph.D.

This article presents the abandonment-symbiosis hypothesis. This hypothesis pertains to the dynamics of suicide in youngsters who experience difficulties in separation from their symbiotic families. It is suggested that such youngsters have experienced various types of rejection and abandonment in early childhood and have developed insecure attachment styles and insufficient ego functions in order to cope with difficulties. It is also suggested that these youngsters have become scapegoats by their dysfunctional families and that they are held in a symbiotic grip in order to continue to bear the negative projections of their families. As such, they are prevented from developing a proper sense of individuation and autonomy. The sequence that begins with abandonment and continues with symbiosis is a reversal of normal development is critical for the emergence of suicidal behavior. The various aspects of the abandonment-symbiosis hypothesis are demonstrated by case studies and empirical data. A combination of individual and family treatment is recommended as the best approach for the treatment of such youngsters.

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