Symbols and self preservation in severe disturbance


  • I would like to thank the Editors of the Journal of Analytical Psychology for inviting me to this conference. It was an honour to be there.


Abstract:  The author considers a particular way in which symbolic functioning and the sense of self fail in certain cases of severe disturbance. When containment of the infant fails, the experience is a violent one. If the infant is projected into by an ‘invasive object’, the infant can incorporate this experience both as a bodily and a proto-mental registration. The experience then remains within the psyche-soma and subsequent development is built ‘around’ the consequences of the trauma. Clinical illustrations are provided to demonstrate this phenomenon in the analytic setting.