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Divorce at Childbirth: A Self-Psychological Perspective

Divorce at Childbirth: A Self-Psychological Perspective Transition to parenthood generates profound disruptions not only in one's sense of self, but also in one's relationship with a partner. As the intersubjective field shifts from dyadic to triadic to include the baby, each partner's preexisting organizing principles may be severely challenged by the new triadic context. For couples entering the developmental stage of parenthood, expanding these organizing principles to encompass a new experience of threeness thus becomes a primary task. When a parent's self-structure fails to accommodate the new triadic situation, narcissistic rage may erupt in an attempt to avoid or repair damage to the self. Sometimes this may lead to the search for another selfobject experience outside the marriage; alternatively, the new parent may turn precipitously against a previously loved partner. In either context, separation and divorce may be experienced as a traumatic event that cannot be grieved. Drawing on her clinical work, as well as her interview with Carol, the author illustrates these ideas and suggests ways that self-psychology may inform the treatment of such patients. Key to this process is the therapist's empathic holding of the patient's “whole” self-a recognition of the either/or organizing principles that previously led to the disavowal of essential aspects of the personality. Finally, a couple's relationship provides important selfobject functions for the child. As important organizing principles are both formed and break down in a triadic context, the author suggests that the notion of the triadic interpersonal field be further explored. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology Taylor & Francis

Divorce at Childbirth: A Self-Psychological Perspective

21 pages

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References (23)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN
1555-1024
eISSN
1940-9141
DOI
10.2513/s15551024ijpsp0102_3
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Transition to parenthood generates profound disruptions not only in one's sense of self, but also in one's relationship with a partner. As the intersubjective field shifts from dyadic to triadic to include the baby, each partner's preexisting organizing principles may be severely challenged by the new triadic context. For couples entering the developmental stage of parenthood, expanding these organizing principles to encompass a new experience of threeness thus becomes a primary task. When a parent's self-structure fails to accommodate the new triadic situation, narcissistic rage may erupt in an attempt to avoid or repair damage to the self. Sometimes this may lead to the search for another selfobject experience outside the marriage; alternatively, the new parent may turn precipitously against a previously loved partner. In either context, separation and divorce may be experienced as a traumatic event that cannot be grieved. Drawing on her clinical work, as well as her interview with Carol, the author illustrates these ideas and suggests ways that self-psychology may inform the treatment of such patients. Key to this process is the therapist's empathic holding of the patient's “whole” self-a recognition of the either/or organizing principles that previously led to the disavowal of essential aspects of the personality. Finally, a couple's relationship provides important selfobject functions for the child. As important organizing principles are both formed and break down in a triadic context, the author suggests that the notion of the triadic interpersonal field be further explored.

Journal

International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self PsychologyTaylor & Francis

Published: Apr 1, 2006

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