The Dead Mother

As I look back at the early consultations there was a hungry and aggressive edge to them.  My thinking at this time was that J’s inner world was finally ‘being seen’ and felt in a way previously unknown to her.  There was an intense hunger to J that often seemed overwhelming and suffocating, causing me to retreat into states of literal comatose and unconsciousness, redolent of her mother whom J reported as ‘emotionally dead, untouchable and unreachable’.  In referring to such deadness in The Dead Mother Complex, Andre Green skilfully describes this paralysing dynamic:  “an image which has been constituted in the child’s mind following maternal depression, brutally transforming a living object, which was a source of vitality for the child, into a distant figure, toneless, practically inanimate, deeply impregnating the cathexes of certain patients…and weighing on the destiny of their object-libidinal and narcissistic future..[The] dead mother … is a mother which remains alive but who is, so to speak, psychically dead in the eyes of the young child in her care” (Green A, 1986 P142)

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