A body with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) as a battleground for the fight to separate from the mother

I describe the therapy of a 20-year-old women who believed that her
difficulties in concentrating and remembering were caused by
her "ME' (Myalgic encephalomyelitis, Chronic fatigue syndrome,
or CFS). She had been fathered by a man who never left his own
wife. Work with her dreams revealed a within-body drama in
which she was locked in an unspeakable fight to the death with
her mother. Her symptoms improved after parallels between a
dream and an accident showed her own self-destructive hand in
her story. Another dream, reflecting her first 'incestuous'
affair, showed her search for her original father-self as
someone separate from mother, and a later affair provided a
between-body drama, helping her to own the arrogant and abject
traits she had before seen only as her mother's. I show how we
worked in the area of Winnicott's first 'primitive agony' as
experienced by a somatizing patient, stuck in a too-close
destructive relationship with her mother-body. I discuss how
analytical work can be done with the primitive affects and
conflicts against which the ME symptoms may be defending.

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