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Robinson, K. (2002). The Character of the Exception as a Defense against Deformity. Psychoanal. St. Child, 57:305-326.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 57:305-326

The Character of the Exception as a Defense against Deformity

Ken Robinson

There is a tendency to regard Freud's paper on “the exception” (1916) as describing a general narcissistic defensive organization, but this paper argues that Freud was primarily concerned with the character of the exception as a defense against acknowledging bodily deformity. Two cases of bodily deformity, one fictional, one drawn from the author's practice, are presented to explore the role of magical identification with an ego-ideal in the regulation of self-esteem in the exception. The first shows a case irrevocably stuck in the character of the exception; the second example shows how analysis can help to effect some lessening of the defense. The paper ends with brief observations on technique in relation to the exception.

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