M. Eglé Laufer : The Body as an Internal Object

By underestimating the importance of the mother’s affective relation with the infant’s body in its ongoing development, psychoanalytical theories forget the major role of the body as a « vital dimension of human reality ». The author establishes a distinction between body-image as a structure founded on sensory experiences, and the body as internal object, which includes the erotic body and has the function of providing a solid basis for the development of the ego and its relation to reality. The parts of the body linked to experiences of pain, deprivation or the absence of contact cannot be introjected and remain split off from the body as internal object, causing developmental problems which may go so far as to constitute grave disturbances in the relation with reality.