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Burke, N. (2007). Body and Separation: Three Variations on a Theme. Psychoanal. Psychol., 24(1):167-172.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 24(1):167-172

Clinical Note

Body and Separation: Three Variations on a Theme

Nancy Burke, Ph.D.

One of the central insights put forward by Freud in his 1920 essay “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” was that the task of negotiating a separation from the mother goes hand-in-hand with the development of a sense of one's body as a discrete, bounded entity. My suggestion in this article is that these tasks, of separation from the mother and the task of developing a discrete sense of one's own body, occur simultaneously, such that the particular form in which each aspect of this dual task is accomplished bears the marks of, and has implications for, the other. I illustrate my claim with three case examples, arranged to form a continuum, in which the tangling of fears regarding these twin developmental tasks has been particularly pronounced.

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