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Saraiva, M.J. (2015). Where there was no place for me to exist, I was left without me: Severe disorders brought by non-relationship, by non-love. MindConsiliums, 15(6), 1-9.

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Member of the Portuguese Association of Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

This paper was presented at the XVIII International Forum of Psychoanalytic Societies in Kaunas, Lithuania: Psychoanalysis, Trauma and Severe Mental Disorders; September 16-19, 2014.

Translated and edited from Portuguese.


This paper offers a look at the relational inability of the object (the mother), which in turn generates incapacity in the subject (the child). The absence of a primary quality relationship, or even the existence of something that cannot be described as a relationship, introduces trauma and transforms the subject’s potential, emptying it, and possibly leading to severe and profound non-being

I propose that there is a deeper relational mismatch of consequent trauma and pathology, when the child is “gifted” and the parents are “sub-gifted,” indicating a possible link between giftedness and severe mental disorders. The emptiness leads to emptiness, and the non-concavity of the object leads to the subject’s emotional abortion and to the prediction of his non-existence; and finally, to the challenges the psychoanalyst must face when working with the gifted subject. One must decipher both an understanding of reality beyond the objective reality of the subject, and his ability to engage in a deep analytic relationship. This is indispensable and necessary for the rebirth and existence of the subject

Keywords: trauma, relational inability, emotional incapacity, mother-child relationship, emotional concavity, giftedness

About The Author

Maria João Saraiva

Maria João Saraiva graduated with degree in psychology in 1986, from the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Coimbra. She is a member of the Portuguese Association of Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.

Publications by Maria João Saraiva:

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Maria João Saraiva can be reached by email at mjoaosaraiva@gmail.com.