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Stein, H. (1997). Goodnight Moon: Repetition and The Mastery of Separation. Psychoanal. Rev., 84(6):925-940.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Review, 84(6):925-940

Goodnight Moon: Repetition and The Mastery of Separation

Helen Stein

Introduction

Separation and loss have been important themes in the psychoanalytic literature since Freud (1920) wrote about his eighteen-month-old grandson's efforts to master a brief separation through repetitive play. Indeed, some writers have suggested that failure to gain mastery of separation during the pre-oedipal period is reflected in aspects of adult psychopathology. According to John Bowlby (1973), early experiences with attachment, separation, and loss become incorporated into “internal working models,” sets of expectations about the self, others, and the environment, which then serve to guide expectations and perceptions of close relationships throughout the lifespan. In the analytic situation, for example, Bowlby notes that some patients expect to be abandoned because of the nature of their early experiences, despite assurances from the analyst and lack of supporting evidence to the contrary. Aspects of early working models are thus evoked in treatment by events such as the end of the hour, the therapist's vacation or unexpected illness, and termination.

In

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