Magnetized Internal Objects: Clinging, adhesive identification and early anxieties


My lecture explores a phenomenon in transference wherein two opposing forces in the patient’s psyche operate simultaneously. On the one hand, the analysand is attached to the psychoanalyst, expressing a longing for connection as a derivative of the life drive. On the other hand, simultaneously, the analysand maintains a defensive internal position of mental stagnation, in which internal clinging to and “magnetization” of internal objects and part objects prevail. I argue that this clinging stems from the recognition of separateness between subject and object, which arouses persecutory anxieties. Therefore, clinging is intended to protect the psyche from an object that is perceived as threatening. This clinging is expressed in two ways: (1) clinging to an external object, represented by the psychoanalysis and the psychoanalyst, which sometimes does not allow space for a separate existence; (2) clinging of internal objects to each other, thus preventing and violently repelling any of the analyst’s attempts to “enter” the analysand’s mind. 

I wish to demonstrate how the concept of projective identification helps in understanding these primitive mental processes, while arguing that the concept of adhesive identification should be reserved for more pathological states of mind. In addition, I emphasize that the desperate clinging to the internal and external object is a defense whose intensity can decrease through a relationship with a patient and benevolent object. 

I will present clinical material from both children and an adult to open the discussion about the challenging position that is required from the analyst, when trying to establish a therapeutic relationship with patients who are characterized by magnetized internal objects.

Ehud Wolpe

 is a clinical psychologist and a child and adult training psychoanalyst at the Israel Psychoanalytic Society. He has worked for many years in therapeutic kindergartens for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, as a clinical psychologist and supervisor. He presently works in a private practice in Tel Aviv. He teaches courses on primitive mental states, Kleinian theory and infantile sexuality at the Israel Psychoanalytic Society Teaching Centre and at the ‘Primitive Mental States’ advanced track of studies, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Program, Faculty of medicine, Tel Aviv University. His major fields of interest include children on the autistic spectrum and children with delayed verbal development, as well as early mental states in children and adults.



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