The invincible defeat of a violent innocent : entertaining paradox and paranoia in the therapy of a borderline patient

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

In this thesis I use the case study to understand and interpret the manifested transference-countertransference anxiety in the therapy as it was expressed largely through the patient's and the therapist's paranoia. The experience of the sense of aliveness and deadness in the therapeutic hour, and the function that this interactive space have played in pointing me to my patient's internal object world and her object relations are explored in terms of their usefulness in understanding the therapeutic impasse. I suggest that my patient's 'substitute formations' in the place of good object relating, reflected in the perverse pleasure she obtained from what has been termed 'violent innocence', for some time masked the lifelessness of the analysis. I think the denial of others' perceptions that violent innocence entails to intersubjective theories of mutual recognition, and trace the failure to successfully negotiate the 'crisis of recognition' in early childhood to the maintenance of a magical omnipotence in adult relating. I explore how the domination of intrapsychic contents negatively affects the successful development in the individual of empathy, concern and connected ness. I examine the way in which supportive therapeutic techniques in the therapy of patients with borderline attachment difficulties may well provide temporary adjustments, but run the risk of failing to provide for a higher level of psychic integration beyond support for the development of a false self. I look at the way in which the false self may emerge as a distortion of the 'dense logics of deception' that are paradoxically involved in the negotiation of a shared reality with others.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 77-79).