Sunday, August 3, 2014
Thomas Ogden - Fear of Breakdown and the Unlived Life
Abstract: Winnicott's Fear of breakdown is an unfinished work that requires that the reader be not only a reader, but also a writer of this work which often gestures toward meaning as opposed to presenting fully developed ideas. The author's understanding of the often confusing, sometimes opaque, argument of Winnicott's paper is as follows. In infancy there occurs a breakdown in the mother–infant tie that forces the infant to take on, by himself, emotional events that he is unable to manage. He short-circuits his experience of primitive agony by generating defense organizations that are psychotic in nature, i.e. they substitute self-created inner reality for external reality, thus foreclosing his actually experiencing critical life events. By not experiencing the breakdown of the mother–infant tie when it occurred in infancy, the individual creates a psychological state in which he lives in fear of a breakdown that has already happened, but which he did not experience. The author extends Winnicott's thinking by suggesting that the driving force of the patient's need to find the source of his fear is his feeling that parts of himself are missing and that he must find them if he is to become whole. What remains of his life feels to him like a life that is mostly an unlived life.