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The Mind Object : Precocity and Pathology of Self-Sufficiency
Corrigan, Edward G. and Pearl-Ellen Gordon (Eds)
Jason Aronson / Hardcover / 1995-11-01 / 1568214804
Object Relations
reg price: $134.00 our price: $ 120.60 (may be subject to change)
264 pages
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How to Help People Who Have Only Their Minds to Love

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.


This fine anthology of eleven original papers includes contributions by some of today's most interestingly thoughtful lyricists of the poetic dimensions of psychoanalytic experience (Christopher Bollas, Nina Coltart, Adam Phillips), by other seasoned psychoanalytic clinicians also known for their important contributions to our literature (Harold Boris, Michael Eigen, Peter Shabad, Ira Schaer, Harold Stewart), by psychoanalytic clinicians who are perhaps less known for their writings but whose talent is evident in this volume (Stephen Seligman, Stanley Selinger, Maria St. John, Raymond Vasser), and by its two eminent editors, Edward Corrigan and Pearl-Ellen Gordon. The book presents itself as an extraordinary, coherent, and diverse exploration of some of the clinical subtleties of human reflectivity and self-relationship. Easily accessible to beginning as well as senior therapists, it will provide both with pleasurable reading and provocative insight.
— Barnaby B. Barratt, Ph.D., Wayne State University

The Mind Object describes patients who have come to value their minds and often superior intellectual abilities above everything else in life. The concept is based on Winnicott's notion of what happens to the infant who substitutes the mind for maternal care. Edward Corrigan and Pearl-Ellen Gordon lay the theoretical groundwork for the case material to follow. Each author shows his or her own creative way of working with patients whose omnipotent narcissistic organization seriously interferes with their ability to relate. Clinicians who work with such patients will be illuminated by this inspiring new book.
— Anni Bergman, Ph.D., The New York Freudian Society

This book brings together a distinguished international group of clinicians who have thought deeply and brilliantly about the challenges of treating the devastating consequences of premature and accelerated mental functioning. The authors examine, in thelives of children and adult patients, what happens when the human capacity to turn one's own mind into a powerful object must be distorted in the name of psychic survival. Drawing on earlier work of Ferenczi, Balint, Bion, and, in particular, Winnicott, the authors demonstrate how mental precociousness, a deforming growth spurt inthe intellectual domain, can be made in reaction to deficits in the holding environment. The mind becomes a potent yet finally terrifying container in the absence of a sooting and securing caretaking function. The adaptive brilliance can create a facade of hypercompetence and skill behind which lurks an impoverished feeling life, an absence of body sense, and an inner emptiness. What is so useful here is that these conceptual tools can be applied in such a wide range of clinical situations. Obsessional adults, overly adult children, children in a range of social circumstances with environmental deficits that can be starkly gross of subtly nuanced, body disorders, affective distur
— Adrienne Harris Ph.D., New York University

Table of Contents:

Edward G. Corrigan and Pearl-Ellen Gordon

1. The Mind as an Object
Edward G. Corrigan and Pearl-Ellen Gordon

2.. A Philosopher and His Mind
Nina Coltart

3. The Development of Mind-as -Object
Harold Stewart

4. "Understanding Too Much"- The Treatment of a Young Precocious Boy
Edward G. Corrigan and Pearl-Ellen Gordon

5. Mental Interference
Christopher Bollas

6. Mystical Precocity and Psychic Short-Circuits
Micheal Eigen

7. Cannibalization of the Self: Children of the Inner City
Ira J. Schaer and Raymond J. Vasser

8. No Space for a Baby: Pseudomaturity in an Urban Little Girl
Stephen Seligman and Maria St. John

9. Of Two Minds: The Mind's Relations with Itself
Harold N. Boris

10. Bracing for Dissapointment and the Counterphobic Leap into the Future
Peter Shabad and Stanley S. Selinger

11. The Story of the Mind
Adam Phillips

About the Editors:

Edward G. Corrigan, Ph.D., earned his doctorate. in clinical psychology from the University of Massachusetts. He is a member of the faculty and a supervisor at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy in New York City. He maintains a private practice in Manhattan.

Pearl-Ellen Gordon, Ph.D., earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from New York University. She is the director of the Child and Adolescent Treatment Services at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy in New York City, where she is a faculty member, supervisor, and a member of the Board of Directors. She maintains a private practice in Manhattan.

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