Translated by Andrew Weller.
Reflections on coma: Man deprived of his consciousness
Article first published online: 8 OCT 2012
Copyright © 2012 Institute of Psychoanalysis
The International Journal of Psychoanalysis
Volume 93, Issue 5, pages 1137–1152, October 2012
How to Cite
Dalakaki, X. and Mantzouranis, G. (2012), Reflections on coma: Man deprived of his consciousness. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 93: 1137–1152. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-8315.2012.00641.x
- Issue published online: 8 OCT 2012
- Article first published online: 8 OCT 2012
- (Final version accepted 10 May 2012)
- comatose condition;
- perception of pain;
In this paper the authors reflect on the phenomena produced by the surprising communication between the unconscious of a therapist and that of a comatose patient. In a particularly disturbing context, when the patient’s sternum is open and exposed, the therapist communicates empathically with the comatose person, identifying the patient’s inexpressible experience and generating signs of a response from him in the form of the blinking of his eyelids. The absence of any reaction to pain, a pathognomonic sign of the comatose condition, could be related to the splitting-off of the trauma, as if the situation were frozen, through a denial of the sensory and neurological perception of pain – a kind of self-anaesthesia as a defence against the catastrophic anxieties raised by the threat of the return of the primary trauma. Starting from this encounter a relationship is formed whose guiding thread emerges in the shared illusion of a regression that makes it possible. It involves a process of returning to the past and a re-actualization of the past that includes the question of its change through representation.