The Place of the Body, the Ego, and Unsymbolized Trauma in the Theories of Bion, Lacan, and Winnicott

David Zachary Hafner

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The ego and the body are objects subject to investment and abandonment, and an object is not a representation but the condensation of sufficient satisfaction to obtain self-cohesion. When Winnicott (1953) wrote of comfort objects, he spoke of the first not-me object, the first not me possession. To specify these as being not-me objects is to imply the first object was me. The astute student of human behavior knows that to see others as different, as having different ideals, desires, and methods of thought, is a major developmental milestone: though nothing is as divergent as human reality, we often inhabit halls of mirrors. After all, training analysis aims beyond the patient’s myopic screen of perspective to a revelatory moment when the ubiquitous, arbitrary distortion by unconscious fantasy may be at least temporarily grokked. We aspire to a brief awakening from the dream of reality so the future analyst might know something akin to where he or she directs patients.
It is this very primal contradictory nature that leads to the variety of defenses we find in the analytic setting: forgetting, camouflage, abdication, denial, unreality, rigidly omnipotent systems of thought, rampancy, and ambivalence. Though we can explain the paradox of myself, this explanation does not resolve the contradiction, though it might reduce its intensity. At its core, the self remains ineffable, or in other words, this forever ungraspable little object a is fundamentally my own experience of body and self, the negative of a long-lost photo. This is the very hypothesis of the divided subject of the unconscious. Or in the spirit of Bion’s text, myself is a malleable, imagined character; just as there is no reasonable proof that my recollections of dreams are more faithful to the dreaming experience than to my everyday waking cognition, there is little justification to suspect that my memories of a self, outside this flash of now, are accurate of who I was or will be. To narrate life is to write with blue ink on the rough seas.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2018
EventPsychoanalysis on Ice 2: 2018 - Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre, Reykjavik, Iceland
Duration: 26 Jul 201829 Jul 2018


ConferencePsychoanalysis on Ice 2: 2018
Internet address


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