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16. Narcissism and Violence in Adolescents (1989)

Harris, Martha; Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Narcissism and violence in adolescents1

(1989)

Donald Meltzer

The second post-war generation has now reached adolescence, and the present adolescent community is the first to have been raised in the atmosphere of the sexual revolution following the turbulence of 1968. The changes in values and behaviour help us to separate out the cultural from the intrinsic factors in the adolescent state of mind. Gone is the Romantic Agony of the nineteenth century, but also gone is the tendency to fall in love Instead of the expectation that love will lead to sexual intimacy, today's young people expect that the sexual activity will ripen into love. The earlier predatory pubertal gang sexual behaviour, in which the boys boasted to their fellows of the conquests and the girls flaunted their capacity to attract and frustrate the boys, has given way to a more athletic mental-hygiene approach with mutual seduction. The brutality of “fucking” has yielded to the triviality of “bonking”. In its openness it has replaced the secrecy of masturbation.

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13. An Adolescent Voyeur (1997)

Harris, Martha; Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

An adolescent voyeur1

(1997)

Donald Meltzer

A young man came up to Oxford six years ago, sent to analysis by his counsellor mother, saying that he did not intend to stay long but had come only to see what it was like, but sure the place was full of snobs. He was a well-built but rather coarse-looking fellow, speaking in a rather rough way with a heavy working-class accent: not in keeping, he admitted, with his family culture. He had obtained a place to read Human Sciences, to everyone's amazement for he'd never worked at school. He sported a nose ring and looked generally uncouth.

However he did stay, obtained a first-class honours and generally improved in appearance over the next six years, transforming after an abortive attempt at a doctorate, into a medical student. The nose ring disappeared, the accent improved and the clothing became cleaner but the analytical work was a sticky affair. The central problem, silence, relieved only by a good recall of dreams, revealed itself as a consequence of a lack of interest in anything other than sex and boozing. He did very little studying and got a good degree he did not deserve, as his girlfriend told him, by his skill as an exam answering machine. He could soak up information effortlessly and intelligently perceived the answers required, padded out with a gift of the gab which never appeared in the analysis but was a relic of his years as an assistant disc-jockey at a night club.

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15. A Theory of Sexual Perversion (1974)

Harris, Martha; Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

A theory of sexual perversion1

(1974)

Donald Meltzer

Last August, when I was discussing adolescent states of mind, and the linkage with the earlier emotional caesura of the entry of the child into the world, I tried to convey how the relationship of the child with his internal objects prepares him to address the external world and his relationships within it.

Now, turning more particularly to perversions, we need to examine more closely the qualities and intricate details of those internal object relations, and the narcissistic manner in which a young person may attempt to bypass the pains of sexual difference and intimate relationships. While teenagers have to deal with the whole spectrum of confusion, when talking about perversions we need to focus on a particular type of confusion: the confusion, that is, between good and bad. While adolescents struggle intensely with a thirst for knowledge—the desire to understand, and the desire and effort to resolve confusion, we also note an opposing psychological force—the use of deliberate confusion, created as a defence, and used as a cynical attack on truth—as a means to consolidate a narcissistic defensive structure.

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9. Depression and the Depressive Position in an Adolescent Boy (1965, 1975)

Harris, Martha; Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

CHAPTER NINE

Depression and the depressive position in an adolescent boy1

(1965; 1974)

Martha Harris

The clinical material in this paper will be centred around a dream, reported by a boy of fifteen and a half years after some three and a half years of analysis. In its context the dream, which was an important and vivid experience for him, typically conveys, I think, the picture of a patient struggling against those aspects of himself that perpetuate depression and inanition. He struggles to be able to face the conflict of ambivalence and the guilt it entails, and to maintain the depressive position—i.e. a state of integration, of responsibility for the conflicting emotions and parts of himself in relation to valued objects.

I am assuming that pathological depression ensues from an inability to face pain and to work through the depressive anxiety occasioned by some experience of loss or disappointment. This inability then leads to failure to rehabilitate the lost object or the object which has betrayed one, within the personality. In the course of treatment, early anxieties about loss and defences against experiencing these, come to be relived in the transference relationship at every break, and in the case of patients who are seen four or five times a week, at every weekend. The material which I would like to discuss in detail was stimulated by a forthcoming holiday.

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8. The Paranoid-Schizoid and Depressive Positions (1975)

Harris, Martha; Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

CHAPTER EIGHT

The paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions1

(1974)

Donald Meltzer

The subject I have been asked to talk about today is for many the most central of the psychoanalytic developments linked with the name of Melanie Klein. As with all psychoanalytic concepts it seems to me that, to understand their significance, we have to put them in the context of their history. And studying the history of Mrs Klein's ideas is different from studying that of Freud, owing to the fact that Freud is both a clinician and a theoretician, whilst Mrs Klein is almost exclusively a clinician who describes far more than she theorizes.

The evolution of Freud's thought is like a country that underwent two revolutions: the first being the fall of the theory of hysteria, and the second being the overthrow of the theory of the libido in the 1920's and its substitution by the structural theory. The work of Melanie Klein on the other hand has grown in a way more analogous to the peaceful transformation that is characteristic of English political institutions. It seems to me that Melanie Klein, not having a particularly theoretical mentality, did not particularly take account of the changes that were taking place in her use of terminology, and the theoretical implications that she was putting forward.

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