Towards an object-relations understanding of the borderline personality

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study aimed at providing a comprehensive Object-Relations understanding of the borderline personality. Towards that end theoretical issues related to the borderline concept were introduced and certain controversial aspects were briefly discussed. A review of the pertinent descriptive literature attempting to detail borderline symptomatology was presented. The enormous discrepancies, inconsistencies and contradictions evident in this area emerged from the strongly contrasting descriptions of the various workers in this field. A borderline symptom profile was introduced, based on both the descriptive literature review and the author's own experience, which served as a reference point for the dynamic formulations which followed. The theoretical formulations aimed at understanding a borderline personality structure were traced from their origins in Freud and Abraham. Melanie Klein was seen to play a central role in providing key conceptual tools for understanding borderline phenomena, and pertinent aspects of her theory were presented in some detail. Modern American and European contributions were then introduced and a division along environmental-intropsychic axes emerged with respect to borderline aetiology. The study concluded with a selective synthesis of this division, which was then applied to two of the author's own case studies. The role of fantasy, and the structuring of mental processes were specifically emphasised for arriving at an adequate understanding of the borderline personality.

Bibliography: leaf 188-192.