1st Edition

Primitive Mental States
A Psychoanalytic Exploration of the Origins of Meaning

ISBN 9780415468947
Published February 5, 2010 by Routledge
240 Pages

USD $52.95

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Book Description

Traditional psychoanalysis relies on the presence of certain meaning-making capacities in the patient for its effectiveness. Primitive Mental States examines how particular capacities including those for symbolising, fantasising, dreaming, experiencing and finding meanings in those experiences, can be taken for granted. Many of us lack these capacities in certain dimensions of our minds making traditional psychoanalysis ineffective.

In this book, international contributors are brought together to consider a radical evolution in contemporary psychoanalytic theory developed from a combination of ultrasound studies, infant analysis, and observation of mothers and babies. These findings demonstrate how much mental life exists even before birth and considers unevolved, unborn and barely born aspects of the self such as the birth of emotion and the birth of alpha functioning.

Topics covered include:

  • prenatal imprints on the mind and body
  • difficult to treat patients
  • non-verbal, non-symbolic, disembodied states of being
  • early relational and attachment trauma.

Illustrated throughout with original data and extensive clinical discussions from some of the biggest names in the field, Primitive Mental States will be a useful resource for students and seasoned analysts alike.

Table of Contents

Van Buren, Alhanati, Introduction. Grotstein, "Orphans of O" The Negative Therapeutic Reaction and the Longing for the Childhood that Never Was. Ferro, Experiencing Emotions, Avoiding Emotions: Between Hercules and Puss-in-Boots. Williams, Incorporation of an Invasive Object. Fix Korbivcher, The Theory of Transformations and Autistic States. Autistic Transformations: A Proposal. Robinson, A Binocular View of Adhesion: From Prenatal Contiguity to Postnatal Appetite. Wilheim, The Trauma of Conception - Cellular Memory. Van Buren, Thoughts Without a Thinker. Gonzalez, Nothing Comes From Nothing: Failed Births, Dead Babies. Chuster, The Origins of the Unconscious: Framework of The Future Mind. Reiner, Pre-verbal Language in the Treatment of a Mother and Infant: A Clinical Exploration. Norman, Transformations of Early Infantile Experience: A 6-month Old in Psychoanalysis. Salomonsson "Talk to Me Baby, Tell Me What's The Matter Now." Semiotic and Developmental Perspectives on Communication in Psychoanalytic Infant Treatment.

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Jane Van Buren is a Psychoanalyst in full time private practice in Los Angeles, California and training and supervising analyst at the Psychoanalytic Centre of California. She has written widely on the themes of women and children, culture and psychoanalysis.

Shelley Alhanati is a psychoanalyst in northern California, and is a Supervising Analyst and faculty member of the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California. She has lectured and written widely on various topics in psychoanalytic theory as well as on fetal, infant, and child developmental research.


‘This is an exceptional book…the scholarship is outstanding and the integrity of the authors and their work is evident throughout’ Thomas H. Ogden, Director, Centre for the Advanced Study of the Psychoses; Personal and Supervising Analyst, Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California, USA