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Rabenu, P. Rabenu, T.G. (1995). The Role of Free Movement in Separation-Individuation: A Study of Paralysis. Psychoanal. St. Child, 50:150-167.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 50:150-167

The Role of Free Movement in Separation-Individuation: A Study of Paralysis

Pini Rabenu and Tamar G. Rabenu

This paper reevaluates the role of free movement in the separation-individuation process through the special case of its absence. We put forward some ideas, formulated gradually during the psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy of a paralyzed adult suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder. By analyzing the transference and countertransference in this case, we realized that the patient’s inability to regulate his distance from his mother by free movement impelled him to use an alternative mode of regulating his object loss and re-engulfment anxieties. We elaborate on two alternative mechanisms to cope with these anxieties: the motoric mode of approaching-distancing, and the mode of idealization-devaluation, inflating and deflating the inner significance of the object. We discuss the implications of these modes for the stability of self and object experiences, their different use of the Doing and Being experiential modalities, and their relation to pathological narcissism.

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