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Waska, R. (2009). Longing for the Disappointing Object and Dreading its Return. Psychoanal. Rev., 96(4):613-629.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Review, 96(4):613-629

Longing for the Disappointing Object and Dreading its Return

Robert Waska, Ph.D., MFT, FIPA

Melanie Klein (1952) states her view that

… the young infant experiences love as well as hatred towards his mother, and when he misses her and his needs are not satisfied, her absence is felt to be the result of his destructive impulses; hence persecutory anxiety results (lest the good mother may have turned into the angry persecutory mother) and mourning, guilt and anxiety (lest the loved mother be destroyed by his aggression). (pp. 121)

These states of persecutory and depressive anxiety are usually thought of as occurring in an either/or mode, rarely in combination. This paper proposes that many of our more disturbed patients are suffering from a particular psychic experience of both.

In other words, many of our most difficult patients are so difficult because they are suffering from a combination of paranoid and depressive phantasies that together create much more complicated and intense psychological struggles for them than for patients who are struggling with either paranoid issues or depressive matters alone. In this vein, Segal (2001) reflects on the impact the family has on the child, and states,

… in opposition to some people who say Klein is not sympathetic or empathetic with the child, I say on the contrary, other people imagine the poor child suffering from the badness of the adult. Klein thinks that the poor bugger not only suffers from the badness of the adult but also guilt from having produced it! Because it comes from an omnipotent part of the child's mind. (p.

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