Can a person relate to his or her own mind as an object, depend upon it to the exclusion of other objects, idealize it, fear it, hate it? Can a person live out a life striving to attain the elusive power of the mind's perfection, yielding to its promise while sacrificing the body's truth?
Winnicott was the first to describe how very early in life an individual can, in response to environmental failure, turn away from the body and its needs and establish "mental functioning as a thing in itself." Winnicott's elusive term, the mind-psyche, describes a subtle, yet fundamentally violent split in which the mind negates the role of the body, its feelings and functions, as the source of creative living. Later, Masud Khan elaborated on Winnicott's notions. This exciting book extends Winnicott's and Khan's ideas to introduce the concept of the mind object, a term that signifies the central dissociation of the mind separated from the body, as well as underscores its function.
When the mind takes on a life of its own, it becomes an object–separate, as it were, from the self. And because it is an object that originates as a substitute for maternal care, it becomes an object of intense attachment, turned to for security, solace, and gratification. Having achieved the status of an independent object, the mind also can turn on the self, attacking, demeaning, and persecuting the individual. Once this object relationship is established, it organizes the self, providing an aura of omnipotence. However, this precocious, schizoid solution is an illusion, vulnerable to breakdown and its associated anxieties.
Making a unique contribution, The Mind Object explores the dangers of knowing too much–the lure of the intellect–for the patient as well as for the therapist. The authors illuminate the complex pathological consequences that result from precocious solutions.
Based on lectures given at the British Psychoanalytic Society, the contributions capture the diversity of opinion among analysts to provide a clear and dynamic presentation of concepts such as:sexual perversions trauma and the possibility of recovery phantasy and reality interpreting and transference two views of the Oedipus complex projective identification the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions symbolism and dreams.
Frequently misunderstood subjects are demystified and the contributors' wealth of clinical and supervisory experience ensures that central concepts are explained with refreshing clarity. Clinical examples are included throughout and provide a valuable insight into the application of psychoanalytic ideas. This overview of the wide variety of psychoanalytic ideas that are current in Britain today will appeal to all those training and practicing in psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy, as well as those wishing to broaden their knowledge of this field.