• archaic transference;
  • breakdown;
  • internal objects;
  • psychic collapse;
  • subjectivity

In the first part of the paper the author presents an account of the analysis of a woman who is psychically extremely disturbed. This clinical presentation focuses on the unfolding of the transference process, and on the countertransference difficulties encountered during the course of the treatment which lasted more than ten years.

In the second part of the paper the author proposes a theoretical approach to the breakdown experienced by the patient, and puts forward the hypothesis that there was insufficient differentiation between her internal objects and the archetypes, and that this prevented the development of symbolization. The author proposes the idea of a collapse between internal and external objects, which destroys the space necessary for representation and symbolization that normally arise between the two poles of the object.

The account of this transference process between the analyst and the patient is thus seen as the account of the (re)construction of true internal objects, and of the resumption of a symbolic process to make possible the development of subjectivity.