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Title: In the mind of the mother : mental representation of the internal space of the mother, self and therapist in borderline states
Author: Cairns, Margaret Anne
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2014
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People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) have a particular difficulty in forming and maintaining close relationships. The Relational Affective Model (Mizen, 2014) proposes that intimate relationships activate claustro-agoraphobic anxieties as the person alternately seeks and flees emotional closeness. The therapeutic relationship is a specialised kind of intimate relationship in which claustro-agoraphobic anxieties are likely to be activated in a process which psychoanalysis understands as transference. The understanding and working through of this transference is the mutative factor proposed in psychodynamic therapies. This study explored participants' mental representation of the internal psychic space of the other. Ten people with a diagnosis of BPD were asked to describe themselves and significant others, including their therapist in order to understand more about (1) their mental representations of the internal space of the other; (2) their relationship with their therapist with reference to internal space. and (3) the implications for the Relational Affective Model and clinical understanding of BPD. Using a mixed qualitative methodology four broad but distinct ways of describing internal space states emerged: positive, negative, nondescript and merged, which I have termed Alpha, Omega, Non-Alpha and Merged. Case study analyses for the four participants who provided interviews at the beginning and end of their treatment were conducted to attempt to highlight any changes in the internal space states identified. A thematic analysis of therapist descriptions indicated participants were positively engaged with their therapist. Negative internal space (Omega) descriptions of self and mother did not transfer to the relationship with the therapist in the early stages of therapy. The implications for the Relational Affective Model are considered.
Supervisor: Smithson, Janet Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Prac.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: borderline personality disorder ; relational affective model ; intrapsychic change ; intrapsychic space ; therapeutic relationship ; object relations inventory ; psychodynamic ; qualitative