Splitting as a paradoxical reply to fragility: Psychological profile and family dynamics in children affected by Osteogenesis Imperfecta

L. Villa, D. Fara, G. Bianchi, R. Garghentino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Osteogenesis Imperfecta constitutes a heterogeneous group of congenital illnesses characterized by a qualitative/quantitative defect of connective tissue, manifesting itself mainly as bone fragility. We observed that, in these patients, rigidity of thinking and inhibition of emotions appear to contrast physical fragility. There seems to be a sort of phenotypical representation of the illness, in which it is possible to see, or better to hear in the patients' language, the splitting, the initial duality of maternal attachment (in an environment which has overinvested in a mind becoming hypertrophic on a fragile, insufficient body). The roots of the real self in these children remain concealed and it is a false self which gets the upper hand, thus blocking an adequate process of integration. The constant remodeling in front of the handicap in these families seems to find its balance in the constant exclusion of the illness, or of an element of the group. The difficulty to integrate all the family members appears to induce a similar lack of integration in the child's mind, which, colluding with the parents' expectations, keeps the sick part away. The dissociation between psyche and body in a child, who has only invested in his mind, responds to his parents' split investment: he separates his handicap from himself by activating his healthy parts in a maniacal way, thus cancelling the effects of perceiving his parents' unconscious refusal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-162
Number of pages2
JournalGenetic Counseling
Volume8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)

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