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British Object Relations
September 16 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm, Back Classroom
Third Year Adult Psychoanalytic Training (APT)
2022-23, 1st Trimester — Fridays, 3:30-5:00pm
Stan Case, LICSW PhD
Judy K. Eekhoff, PhD
September 16, 2022 — The Body as Psychoanalytic Object
Ester Bick was the founder of the use of infant observation in the training of analysts and therapists at the Tavestock, London. She used her observations to formulate a theory regarding the function of psychic skin. Psychic skin holds the emerging self together, allowing cohesion and accumulation of learning and meaning. Her ideas were profoundly influential in London, although she did not write very much. These ideas added a great deal to Object Relations theory and technique. Before knowing Bion, she explored the idea of containment. Some terms found in current literature on psychopathological processes use her ideas of second-skin formation and adhesive identification. She also noticed the impact a lack of psychic skin produced in therapy, such as impasses which resulted in dead-ends and looping. Her focus was more on object relations than on the cognitive symbolic functions of thinking and language.
My papers explore the role of the body in the development of a subjective sense of self. I link the development of Self with both Bick and Bion’s work. Bion explored the processes involved in the accumulation of meaning via relationship. He always looked for the precursor to thinking. It is not only that we use our minds to think: sensory and perceptual experience initiate the birth of a mind. Bion’s famous phrase, “thoughts without a thinker” turned some basic assumptions about thinking around. We need a mind in order to cope with thoughts. Proto-mental experience originating in the body becomes useable after being organized by the mind. Sensations and images cohere to create internal structure and organization via emotional relationship. For me, and here is the influence of Bion, emotions are already representations that lead to symbolization. These are embedded in the body. Psychopathology arises when the mind and the body are dissociated, which occurs in early trauma. Mind and body together organize experience so as to reduce the infinite experience of reality.
Bick, E. (1968). “The experience of the Skin in Early Object-Relations.” IJP 49:484-486
Eekhoff, J.K. (2020). Ch. 8 “The Body as a Mode of Representation” in Trauma and Primitive Mental States: An Object Relations Approach. London & NY: Routledge. pp94-111
Eekhoff, J. (2022) The Organization of Experience (developmental chart)