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Harrison, I.B. (1986). On "Merging" and the Fantasy of Merging. Psychoanal. St. Child, 41:155-170.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 41:155-170

On "Merging" and the Fantasy of Merging

Irving B. Harrison, M.D.


The assumption of an original state of mother-infant unity is now widely accepted as a fact of individual psychic development. That

assumption is shown here to incorporate a concept of merging. Merging was originally advanced and understood as a primitive intrapsychic activity whereby the early ego blended sensations and impressions from diverse and nondiscriminated sources. It has become confused with an alleged capability of two individuals to "merge" to some extent, based on processes which are either more primitive than, and developmentally anterior to, perception via the senses (Kohut, 1966), or (Loewald, 1981) existent in a realm of "psychic fields" beyond the observable events of human physiology. The distinction between merging and the fantasy of merging has been explicated.

Many recent theoretical and technical innovations in psychoanalysis reflect the influence of the assumption of an original mother-infant unity. The goal of efforts to promote empathy and to encourage regression in pursuit of the merged state is here contrasted with the Freudian technique in which regression has the exclusive goal of facilitating the analysand's access to his repressed conflicts so that a connection can be established between these and his conscious (verbal) ego.

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