In an older adolescent with psychosomatic symptoms, the autosadistic symptom of trichotrillomania brings together deficiencies in the Body-ego and its attempts at autoerotic appropriation. These repeated traumatophiliac wounds are a survival method maintaining the excitation of a disavowed maternal absence whose memory traces infiltrate the memory of the sick body. What is at stake in the therapy is the revisiting, in the transference, of the homo- function and primitive auto-reflection.
Adolescence, 2016, 34, 3, 587-596.
If self-mutilation shows paradoxical strategies for silencing the excitation of puberty in adolescence, it also bears witness to the traumaphilia that operates within a context of narcissistic filiation. The case of Theo shows us how important it is to recognize the bonds of interdependence between the parents and the young adolescent faced with trans-generational issues. In fact, the problematic underlying these behaviors seems only to be able to elaborated after the traumatic tensions which are the basis of the lack of differentiation and the violence in intergenerational bonds have been put into perspective.
The adolescent who turns against his own body is often imprisoned in a logic of doubles from which he tries to protect himself and which he tries to escape. This has the advantage of maintaining the illusion of omnipotence he experienced as a child, of projecting it onto the other with accompanying violence, and of stabilizing the latter by turning it back upon itself in a targeted, limited way. The mutilations that he inflicts on himself are thus real witnesses to the illusion that he needs to construct. What is interesting about a work like Verdi’s Le Trouvère is that it gives us access to the mythic scenario underlying this type of behavior and opens it up to analysis. In it we discover, notably, how self-mutilation is for some adolescents a rite of passage allowing them to confront a mythical double, to their detriment at first, but with the possibility of unmasking it later.
Self-mutilation would be a belief device which coats a great difficulty in believing in one’s own subjectal construction. A simple device, if it aims to play out sadomasochistic scenarios according to an hysterical model. A more complex one when it fulfills a transitory fetishistic mission. These behaviors have a dramatic effect on the narcissistic collapses of puberty.