Metapsychological Perspectives on Psychic Survival: Integration of Traumatic Helplessness in Psychoanalysis, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Metapsychological Perspectives on Psychic Survival

Integration of Traumatic Helplessness in Psychoanalysis, 1st Edition

By Simo Salonen


176 pages

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Metapsychological Perspectives on Psychic Survival explores the integration of traumatic helplessness in the course of psychoanalytic treatment. Based on the author’s many years of experience of working with psychotic and severely traumatised patients, this book offers guidelines to approach extreme psychic trauma in the therapeutic setting.

Simo Salonen links psychic representation of the elementary drive phenomena and metaphorical thinking to primary identification understood as a mode of object finding. The collapse of this connection signifies a radical psychic trauma, the integration of which into the temporal continuity of an individual’s life is an essential task for psychoanalysis. Another key element of this book is Salonen’s notion of the primal representative matrix, referring to a resource of primary narcissism that an individual has been endowed with, carrying vital meanings. Also explored is the crucial work of mourning, as the result of which the impoverished ego may recover its primary narcissistic resources. 

Using insights from numerous case studies, Salonen offers a new way of understanding severe trauma, which can be used to advance both psychoanalytic theory and clinical practice. Metapsychological Perspectives on Psychic Survival will be of great interest to psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists.


"In this book, Simo Salonen, the distinguished Finnish psychoanalyst, examines the infant’s mind and expands theoretical considerations about an individual’s psychic survival. Remarkable case presentations illustrate Salonen’s metapsychological considerations. His decades long observations on primary identification, psychic trauma, repetition compulsion, mourning, the vulnerability of psychotic individuals, castration anxiety, solving intrapsychic conflict and structural transformation of an individual mind are very informative for all mental health professionals."-Vamik D. Volkan, M.D., Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of Virginia and the author of? Would-Be Wife Killer: A Clinical Study of Primitive Mental Functions, Actualized Unconscious Fantasies, Satellite States, and Developmental Steps.

"Dedicated to his severely distraught patients – they suffered from long-term psychosis, psychosomatic conditions, or severe depression – as well as to Freudian metapsychology, Simo Salonen has compiled a breath-taking review of his work as psychoanalyst and psychiatrist during the last 50 years. In success and failure, he helped his patients re-ignite a life-preserving and vitalising 'primal representative matrix.' His book is a unique treatise on Freud’s hypothesis of a primary identification, the earliest unconscious impact on the infant of mother or father, or of mother and father. Salonen’s book is a labour of love. It is recommended reading for any psychoanalyst or psychoanalytically interested other persons."-David Titelman, Ph.D., National Center for Suicide Research and Prevention Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm.

Table of Contents

Foreword; Preface; 1. Outlining a Conceptual Space: An Introduction2. On the Metapsychology of Schizophrenia 3. Facing Reality: Castration Anxiety Reconsidered 4. The Restitution of Primary Identification in Psychoanalysis 5. The Reconstruction of Psychic Trauma 6. The Recovery of Affect and Structural Conflict 7. Understanding Psychotic Disorder 8. The Vulnerable Core: The Unconscious Wish Reconsidered 9. On Destructive Drive Phenomena: A Study of Human Aggression 10. The Body and the Sense of Reality 11. The Absent Father in the Transference: A Case Study of Primary Identification and Psychic Survival 12. On the Metapsychology of Psychic Survival 13. Reconciliation with the Past

About the Author

Simo Salonen, M.D., Ph.D. is a Training and Supervising Analyst of the Finnish Psychoanalytical Society and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus at the University of Turku, Finland.

About the Series

The New Library of Psychoanalysis

The New Library of Psychoanalysis is published by Routledge Mental Health in association with the Institute of Psychoanalysis, London.

Its purpose is to facilitate a greater and more widespread appreciation of psychoanalysis and to provide a forum for increasing mutual understanding between psychoanalysts and those in other disciplines. The series also aims to make some of the work of continental and other non-English speaking analysts more readily available to English-speaking readers, and to increase the interchange of ideas between British and American analysts.

The New Library of Psychoanalysis published its first book in 1987 under the editorship of David Tuckett, later followed by Elizabeth Bott Spillius, Susan Budd and Dana Birksted-Breen. A considerable number of Associate Editors and readers have assisted the editors.

Under the guidance of Foreign Rights Editors, a considerable number of the New Library books have been published abroad, particularly in Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, Peru, Spain and Japan.

The aim of the New Library of Psychoanalysis is to maintain the high level of scholarship of the previous series, to provide a forum for increasing understanding between psychoanalysis and other disciplines and to increase the interest of the general book-reading public in psychoanalysis.

The New Library of Psychoanalysis also aims to help the various schools of psychoanalysis to better understand each other. It has published books representing all three schools of thought in British psychoanalysis, including a particularly important work edited by Pearl King and Riccardo Steiner, expounding the intellectual and organisational controversies that developed in the British psychoanalytical Society between Kleinian, Viennese and 'middle group' analysts during the Second World War.

The New Library of Psychoanalysis has also translated and published several books by Continental psychoanalysts, and it plans in the future to continue the policy of publishing books that express as clearly as possible a variety of psychoanalytic points of view.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health