Skin surface and mental skin: the burn-accident as a symptom


Through the suggestions provided by a clinical case a brief panorama has been carried out regarding the position of some authors in the psycho-analytical traditions on the functions of the skin in psychic development. The particularity of the case under examination is that of highlighting how an accident in adolescence can be the sign of a fracture in a very primitive phase of development of the personality; in this case the incapacity of the external-mother object to contain the components of Self of the child and making it an inadequate structure for the function of the boundary of skin for the components of his personality and the consequent creation of a defensive “second skin” which blocked the access to a phase of psycho-affective development adequate for his age. It is this second skin, this “shell” that it was necessary to dent to bring to light the deep malaise that had accompanied the life of this boy. It must be stressed also that in dealing with cases of this type, the analyst should not refer greatly to his technical competence so much as his affective qualities and his containment

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