Academic journal article Pre- and Peri-natal Psychology Journal

The Relevance of the Dread of Being Aborted to Models of Therapy and Models of the Mind, Part I: Case Examples

Academic journal article Pre- and Peri-natal Psychology Journal

The Relevance of the Dread of Being Aborted to Models of Therapy and Models of the Mind, Part I: Case Examples

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT: This paper describes how marked positive changes occurred in two male patients when feelings of dread of tunnels, bridges and interpersonal relationships were found to be transferential derivatives of an underlying dread of being aborted and a wish to be aborted. Both of these men had a proneness to act out by sanctioning the abortion of their own and others' unborn children. Associations and dreams were characterized by a fear of annihilation in holes or containers and a mental imagery and mental processes of formlessness and timelessness similar to that seen in borderline conditions and psychoses. They were drifting through life, alive but not alive. Little movement had occurred from addressing symptoms in terms of post-natal separation and individuation issues of self, or psychosexual conflicts of desire despite many years of analysis with myself and prior analysts. The long delay in connecting the word abortion to feelings of dread raises questions about counter-transference blind spots in seemingly interminable analyses, and the need for models of therapy and of the mind that include a consideration of pre-natal mentation and communication, and the registering of pre-natal experiences as important influences in later life. These issues will be explored in a companion paper (Sonne, 1995) "The Relevance of the Dread of Being Aborted to Models of Therapy and Models of the Mind, Part II: Mentation and Communication in the Unborn."

INTRODUCTION

In this paper, Part I of a two part study, I shall describe how connecting the word abortion to feelings of dread that had been previously experienced as dread of tunnels, bridges, and various interpersonal situations encountered in everyday life, resulted in a marked diminution of presenting symptomatology, a change in thinking processes, the development of a more solid sense of presence and self-assertiveness, and the enrichment of expressive language in two men, George and Richard. They both had regarded themselves as incurable prior to this connection being made. Their mental imagery and thought processes were characterized by a lack of boundaries and a sense of timelessness similar to that seen in borderline conditions and psychoses.

There was a long delay before feelings of dread were connected with the word abortion, despite several years of therapy with myself and several other analysts. The dread which was attached to other elements ultimately turned out to be an underlying dread of being, and a wish to be, aborted themselves. As a defense against this dread each had a wish to abort or sanction the abortion of others.

GEORGE'S ANALYSIS

George, a young computer specialist, had entered analysis with the chief complaint that his life was drifting. He was unable to make up his mind about "certain things," one of them being whether or not to finalize his divorce from his estranged wife Ann, "the brightest woman I have ever known." Though separated, George and Ann were still continuing to have an on-going intellectual long distance telephone relationship. Occasional sex during their period of separation had been fairly satisfactory, but when they had lived together their relationship had been mostly platonic because of mutual anxieties about sex. George was concerned about his inability to express deep emotion, his reluctance to get deeply involved, and his inability to have provided Ann with what he felt she needed emotionally. He was distressed that his creativity relative to writing scientific papers was not flowing, particularly concerning his work in developing a computer that could play chess. He was unable to make crucial moves that would advance his career. He tended to procrastinate in various other matters, such as needed car repairs. In addition to concern about his relationship with Ann, George wanted to explore and master difficulties he had in relating to women in general. He was currently involved in an uneasy, ongoing, intense relationship with a woman, Betty, that was marked by repeated suicidal threats on her part, her periodic rejection of George for other men, and placation by him. …

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