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Sherkow, S.P. (2002). The Analysis of a Pre-Adolescent Girl with Primal Scene Fantasies. Psychoanal. St. Child, 57:327-354.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 57:327-354

The Analysis of a Pre-Adolescent Girl with Primal Scene Fantasies

Susan P. Sherkow, M.D.

This paper presents the analysis of Daphne, a ten-year-old girl whose prominent primal scene fantasies organized the analytic process in a rather unusual way, creating challenging technical problems and offering the analyst the opportunity to learn more about the formation of primal scene fantasies and their potential impact on psychic development and function. The data are consistent with the view that primal scene fantasies become organized in response to the cognitive requirements of development—to answer the enigmas of sexual difference, genital sensations, procreation, and parental rejection; that these fantasies arise from phase-specific libidinal and aggressive struggles such as voyeurism, exhibitionism, sadism, and homoerotic fantasy; and that they influence superego development. Daphne, however, appeared to have used the primal scene fantasy in a rather extraordinary way to organize and integrate the vicissitudes of development and especially to master conflict. Moreover, the analytic work demonstrates the technical difficulty of distinguishing between primal scene fantasy and primal scene exposure.

Another technical issue was raised by the remarkable discrepancy between this little girl's relatively high functioning behavior and demeanor both in school and at home, and the outpouring of sexual material that emerged and flooded our sessions. Why was there such a discrepancy? How should I manage the sexualized nature of the material? Several colleagues, reflecting on the overstimulated quality of the analytic productions, questioned whether I “should have done something”

to stop it. In the hours, I certainly felt perplexed by the discontinuity between her presentation and her fantasies. Thus, I ask the reader to follow me in the process of uncovering the particular way in which the analytic data revealed themselves.

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