L. Szondi

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The Contact Vector

Originally the C designation of the Contact vector was intended to indicate the group of circular psychoses which in the terminology of European psychiatry comprises the manicdepressive manic and manicdepressive depressive forms of psychoses, and includes what is known as melancholia.

However, the more was learned about the interpretation of this vector, the more Szondi was inclined to call it contact vector, since choicereactions to pictures of manicdepressive patients represent psychologically the subject's attitudes toward the objects (in the psychoanalytic sense of libido object) of the environment or, in other words, the subject's contact with reality.

In interpreting the two factors of this vector, the (d) and the (m), we make more use of psychoanalytic conceptsmainly, those in regard to pregenital "component" impulses of anal and oral drives than we did in interpreting any of the other vectors. The reader is referred to those works of Freud and Abraham which contain their theories concerning the significance of the pregenital phases of sexuality in regard to the later character formation of the individual.

The (d) Factor

Reactions to pictures of depressive patients are assumed to be related to those features of the personality which can be traced back to the specific way in which the subject has passed through the anal phase of psychosexual developinent. Thus, in interpreting the d factor, personality traits which are known in psychoanalytic literature as “analcharacteristic" primarily will be mentioned. Anal characteristics refer mostly to certain types of the individual's objectrelationships: that is, to his attitudes toward the objects of his environment. Possessiveness, orderliness, pedantry, and parsimony are among the most frequently listed anal character traits. The typically anal aspect of object relationship centers in the problem of retention or surrender of objects, and in the person's reaction to the loss of a libidinously cathected object.

To establish a psychologic relationship between character traits like those listed above to the child's early anal functions is difficult enough, yet it is an easier task than to establish an acceptable hypothesis which relates this whole group of traits to the reaction of liking or disliking photographic portraits of depressive patients.

The relationship between certain aspects of the personality and various stages of the psychosexual development was first observed and described by Freud, and was later supported and elaborated by Ferenczi, Abraham, and others. Freud found in his patients that those who in their childhood have particularly strong and longlasting interest in their excretory processes develop later into the socalled "anal characters." The link between the two phases is established through the assumption that the child cathects his own feces positively, considering it as part of himself, as something he owns, and over which he can exert will and power. This hypothesis is supported by published case histories as well as by case histories of individuals whom I have observed. The stage of frustration, or feeling of deprivation, which interferes with the primitive narcissistic enjoyment of being the sole master of one's own excretory processes begins with the sphincter training imposed upon the child by adults of his environment. This is the period in the child's maturation in which, depending on the force or persuasion through which he becomes aware of sphincter control, basic attitudes towards handling possessions and towards discipline in general develop.

On the basis of psychoanalytic experience one can assume that the narcissistic, emotional overestimation of the feces in childhood is transferred, through unconscious mechanisms of symbolization and displacement, to other objects of the environment representing real values. For later character formation, the unconscious identifying of feces with money, gifts, and valuables in general is of great importance. Those for whom the learning of sphincter control in childhood was a psychologically traumatic experience are most likely to develop in their later life irrational feelings in regard to anything they possess, either in overestimating or in underestimating the significance of tangible objects. The specific experience which acts traumatically on these individuals is the compulsion under which they had to give up something which belonged to them their feces at the request of others. This traumatic experience may result in personality characteristic of being unable to give up objects, or trying to compensate for the loss of the primary, libidinously cathected object by hoarding or avidly accumulating possessions.

In interpreting the Szondi test we assume that symptoms of depression are likely to develop in those individuals who are characteristically "anal." The psychologic link between depression and anal characteristics is the constant anxiety of depressive patients in regard to remote possibilities of losing money or of running out of whatever supplies are of particular importance to them. This anxiety is wellknown to any clinician who ever worked with depressive patients who must have more than they need, and who fear to loss even in the case of overabundance.

According to our interpretation, the (d) portraits in the Szondi test reflect this tight, worrying attachment to objects, a reaction formation to the trauma of the loss of the "primary" object of libido.

The psychodynamics of depression as a reaction to the loss of an object is described in detail in Freud's Mourning and Melancholia. There he differentiates between the psychologically normal process of mourning and the pathologic symptoms of depression (melancholia), which on the surface differ mainly in the length of time the symptoms of depression can be observed. The additional premise needed to fill out the gap still existing between the interpretation of anal characteristics and the reactions to portraits of depressive patients is that pathologically longlasting symptoms of depression following loss of a loveobject occur in individuals who have shown typically anal characteristics prior to their manifest illness. A particularly strong, "sticky," attachment to the love object whose loss elicited the depressive symptoms is assumed. Furthermore this typically anal tenacity of the libido is presumed to have developed genetically from early childhood experiences constituting the foundation of the development of anal character traits.

Another possibility which takes the constitutional elements of the personality more into consideration is that, irrespective of any specific traumas which occur during training of sphincter control, and irrespective of the type of discipline experienced, certain individuals will develop anal characteristics. In these individuals one assumes a constitutionally determined inclination to develop just these and no other characteristics, so that incidents in sphincter trainingmerely strengthen constitutionally predetermined, or hereditary, patterns of reaction. Such persons, presumed to be “traumatophyl" by constitution, would have abstracted characteristic traumatic experiences for themselves no matter what treatment they received from their environment. The same idea is expressed in Freud's theory concerning the significance of what he called complimentary series, which assigns to heredity a role more important in the formation of various neuroses than one would assume from reading some of the more recent psychoanalytic literature.

C d+

A positive reaction in the (d) factor is indication that the subject identifies himself with anal characteristics. Thus the following features of the individual's objectrelationships can be interpreted on the basis of a plus (d) reaction there is:

· a strong need for concrete objects which implies that real objects are highly estimated, and there is

· a general interest in outside reality as the source of all material things.

This realistic, extrovert interest which results from the high value attached to real objects, necessarily accompanies

· a tendency actively to manipulate and pursue objects, which reveals the close link between the (s+) and (d+) characteristics.

This relationship can be anticipated by what is known about the usual coexistence of anal and sadistic character traits. The basis for this close association is not quite clear, although several hypotheses can be made. From the point of view of the correlation between the (s+) and the (d+) reactions in the test, it is enough to point out that both the sadistic impulses (the physically active, manipulative drive implied

in (s+) and the anal type of object relationship implied in (d+) have in common the tendency to control. Actually these traits are quite typical for subjects with a steady (d) reaction. Of course this basic tendency

to control objects can have a variety of manifestations, depending on other factors. It might take the form of

· antisocial aggression in some individuals in conjunction with

(s+ or s- , e-, and m-) patterns as well as

· pedantry, orderliness, or scientific attempts to force things into a system (in conjunction with a (h-, k+ or p+ and m+), associated with (d+).

· In other instances, the anal tendencies of (d+) find expression in such sublimated interests as collections (stamps, books, coins, etc.) or professions systematizing and criticizing works of others.

The authors unpublished study on various groups of creative and performing artists (cited previously in connection with the s factor) showed that d+ was by far most common among sculptors, next among painters, and least common among musicians. These data bear out the earlier findings of psychoanalysts who concluded that interest in molding and sculpting can be traced to the infantile anal pleasure of smearing.

Other character traits which can be deduced from the specific “adhesive” quality of the libido in anal personalities, and are characteristic of the plus (d+) constellation, are

· general possessiveness, tendency for rivalry, and a persistence in reaching a goal which might even lead to obstinacy.

· Disposition for depressive mood is indicated by the (d+) probably because the loss of possessions is experienced as a constant potential danger.

Accordingly, the (d+) constellation is found with greatest frequency, among diagnostic groups, in depression. As has been said, it also frequently occurs in antisocial individuals.

The (d+) and the (d0) are the two most frequent (d) factorial constellations in the general population. The frequency of (d+) constellation reaches its peak in the seven to eight year old group and in extremely advanced age. Its frequency in seven or eight year old children coincides with the period when collecting various objects becomes generally important to them. A deeper interpretation of this phenomenon suggests that this is the age when children start to lose their strong attachment to their mother. for which emotional loss the accumulation of various concrete objects might serve as a substitute. Incidentally, this dynamic interpretation of the searching, collecting quality of the (d+) in children is presumed to hold for (d+) in general.

(C d-)

It has been found that portraits of depressive patients are disliked by subjects who refuse to identify themselves with the anal type of possessive and aggressive object relationship described in connection with the (d+) reaction. The adhesive quality of the libido cathexis, which is a typically anal characteristic, holds for any loaded (d) reaction, (d+ as well as d- or ±). However, there is a great difference between the evaluation of material objects in (d+) and in (d-) individuals.

The (d-) indicates that the attachment to the primary object has not been surrendered, hence the individual depreciates the other concrete, material objects. Subjects in this d category are likely to be extremely loyal to the object once cathected with libido. They stick to their love object disregarding the realistic possibilities of whether or not they can reach their goal. This attitude makes them generally more idealistic and less practical than individuals with (d+). In this sense, (d-) subjects are the real “conservatives” who shrank from inovaions and changes because they are not able or innowilling to invest their libido in new objects. They could also be characterized as generally passive in their object relationship, since somehow cathecting the object, without motor efforts to secure the object, is all they seem to care for.

The correlation between (d-) and (s-) is indicated by this, common feature of physical passivity, as well as by the finding that both (s-) and (d-) patterns are reactions ore common in women than in men. Reverse correlation of these two factors on the proftle, for example (s+) with (d-), are interesting problems for interpretation since they indicate a contradiction inherent in the subjectís personality in regard to aggressively (or only actively) goaldirected behavior. Such persons usually impress others as being “aggressive, while they conceal an underlying passive fixation on a loveobject by this surface activity.

At this point in our discussion, more complex combinations or factorial constellations can be inserted briefly to illustrate the reasoning implied in interpretation. The most difficult question associated with the (d-) constellation is the nature of the “primary” object of libido. In its deepest meaning, the term probably refers to the mother; however, for the purpose of interpreting the (d-) reaction in the Szondi test, this basic interpretation is not inclusive enough. Even though this interpretation may always be at the bottom of every (d-) reaction, on the behavior level individuals with (d-) often display extreme adhesiveness to objects or ideas whichat least on the surface do not seem to relate to the mother or to any obvious mother image. From the point of view of test interpretation it is not necessary to trace the links which, through various processes of symbolization and displacement, finally might reveal the connection between the original mother fixation and objects cathected with almost the same intensity in the individualís later life.

· All that need be remembered in interpreting the (d-) reaction is that it indicates strong attachment to one particular object or one idea, in contrast to the desire to possess many objects, characteristic of individuals associated with (d+) reaction.

Since anal characteristics have been mentioned throughout our discussion of the (d+) factor, and since the symbolic role of money for anal characters is so widely recognized in psychoanalysis, something ought to be said about the significance of money in individuals associated with (d+) and (d-) reactions respectively. Superficially, stinginess or overestimation of money as such appears to be characteristic of individuals associated with the (d+) reaction. However, clinging to money, paradoxically, is more characteristic of those giving (d-). The (d+) subjects are active in seeking ways to earn money primarily as a means to secure other objects, and may even resort to ruthlessness in the search. However, since the pursuit of money is not the interest of individuals associated with (d-), it is all the more difficult for them to part with the money they have on hand. (The possibility that the (d-) subject cathects money itself, with all the adhesiveness of his libido, is not excluded).

There are other apparent paradoxes, in the (d-) subjectís relationship to material objects. For example, even though he is indifferent to the accumulation of wealth he may feel a personal deprivation amounting to trauma if he is forced to separate from an object, even more so than a typically (d+) person. In spite of characteristic hoarding, a (d+) subject probably is aware of his ability to replace materials. On the other hand, sentimental attachment to an object may make the (d-) subject inconsolable at its loss.

I have discussed this one specific problem because of the apparent inconsistency which is at first impression inherent in it. The relationship of the (d-) to the subjectís attitude toward money was one of those most puffling problems in the Szondi test in which pragmatic knowledge preceded by far a theoretical understanding of the phenomenon, and only recently have I been able even to this extent to formulate a theory which helps to reconcile results which formerly seemed contradictory.

Among the various diagnostic groups, the (d-) occurs most frequently in hypochondria and in paranoid schizophrenia. This constellation seldom occurs in psychotic depression. In its relation to social behavior, (d-) can be taken as an attribute to ethical behavior because of the idealism and nonagressive behavior implied in its dynamics.

Among the various age groups, the (d-) constellation occurs most frequently in adults between twenty and forty. It is most uncommon in children between seven and nine, where the (d+) reaction prevails.

(C d±)

Since (±) reactions are by definition always loaded reactions, they reflect tension in the particular area in which they occur. The () constellation indicates strong and subjectively experienced tension in the area of object relationship. There is ambivalence in regard to looking for more and new objects or to clinging to the old ones. Under all circumstances object relationship as such is an important problem for individuals yielding a (d±) constellation, and the observable signs through which this problem becomes noticeable to others in their environment is that much of their conversation is centered in their present and past relationship to various persons. In spite of their great need for intensive attachment and loyalty to one person (the d- part), they have a tendency constantly to get involved in new relationships which might thwart the continuation of relationships they have established (d+ part). The result is that most of the time they feel insecure in regard to the permanence of any of their objectrelations, which in turn is the cause for a general feeling of indecision.

The tension indicated by the loading of the (d±) reaction explains why all these subjects can be described as anal characters, while the ambivalent attitude implied in the plusminus direction accounts for the existence of apparently contradictory anal personality characteristics. The subject reveals this general ambivalence by such fluctuating traits as generosity with money in some matters and stinginess in others; exaggeration in selfesteem coupled to feelings of inferiority; inconsistent idealism and materialism; self will and defiance coupled to compliance and conformity, and concurrent desires for privacy and association with large groups. A number of other inconsistencies in the overt behavior of subjects with (d±) reaction could be listed. Quite characteristic of them are constant plans to start something new: to move to a new place, to seek a new career, etc. These steps may or may not be carried out, but even when they are, the surrender of the previous status is slow and is experienced as a painful process. Thus the (d±) constellation gives a certain heaviness to the personality which handicaps easy locomotion in the lifespace. Yet, from the point of view of any serious pathology, the (d±) seems to be rather a favorable constellation, most probably because of the selfregulatory function inherent in the (±) reaction.

· The extent to which an ambivalent reaction indicates conflict in the negative sense of the term, and to which it indicates a balance between opposing forces, is a problem common to all the plusminus reactions.

In the case of the (d±), these two possibilities seem to resolve into a rather difficult type of personality structure which counteracts, nevertheless, the development of serious forms of pathology.

Accordingly the (d±) pattern is not particularly characteristic for any of the usual diagnostic categories. It is found relatively most frequently in epileptics, which may account for the general slowness and stickiness of the epileptic character. Among the various groups of criminals and delinquents, this constellation occurs most frequently in petty thieves. The fact that even though they are antisocial, these persons refrain from committing more serious forms of crimes (robbery for instance) may be due to the moderating effect of the minus d.

The (d±) is the least frequent (d) factorial constellation in the general population. Its maximum frequency, fifteen per cent, is found in the youngest group of children who can be tested, the three to four year olds. This is the age in which occurs the first real crisis in object relationship, the period when the ambivalence towards the parents due to the Oedipus situation reaches its maximum. After this period the occurrence of plusminus d decreases and does not reach a frequency even of ten per cent until the 7080 year age group, in which it occurs in about twelve to thirteen per cent of the cases.

See the Forums: “Contact profiles”, where Jean Mélon, one of the foremost Szondi specialists gives a resumé, based on his book, ”Théorie et Pratique du Szondi, 1975, Liège

(C d0)

The (d0) reaction indicates lack of tension in the area of objectrelationship; in other words, the problem of whether to hold on to old objects or to search for new is not particularly important to subjects yielding (d0). However, the fact that “anal” aspects of object relationship are not important to these individuals does not deny the importance of the object from the point of view of an “oralí type of object relationship. Oral object relationship will be discussed in connection with the (m) factor.

In common with all other open reactions, (d0) is the most difficult d factorial constellation to characterize in terms of behavior because of the variety of ways in which discharge of actual tension can be achieved.

It suggests a generally loose kind of object relationship, in which one object can be substituted for another rather easily. The subject himself usually does not make any particular effort to secure a certain object, but is inclined, rather, to cathect those objects which are easily available. In contrast to the “heaviness” of the (d±) the (d0) has something of aneasygoing quality because the person does not feel the need to accumulate objects or to exert much effort to keep the object under control.

In certain cases this type of object relationship can be characterized as apathetic rather than easygoing. It might be found after the actual loss of a real object, in which case it reflects a lack of concern and an indifference in regard to objects in general. Thus, if the rest of the test profile shows a certain configuration (d0) can even mean an actual state of depression; however, only in the apathetic sense described above, which is quite different from the tense and anxious worrying depression characteristic for the (d+). This apathetic loss of interest in outside objects occurs more frequently in incipient catatonic states than in real psychotic depression. In other instances, if the general configuration of the testprofile shows signs of good adjustment, (d0) can indicate good possibilities for intellectual or artistic sublimation since the person is not tied down through his concern with material objects, but can freely devote himself to nonmaterialistic interests. A possible relationship between tendency for depression and artistic creativity can be mentioned in this context; although exploration of the theoretical implications of the relationship lies beyond the framework of this manual. with the problem of artistic creativity, elaborates in detail the above hypothesis. In some cases, complete lack of tension in the psychologic area corresponding to the (d) factor is caused by the factthat important components of the early childhood anal erotism have not been absorbed, by various processes of transformation, into personality characteristics , but still retain their significance at the primary anal level. In such individuals, the actual excretory processes are still cathected libidinouslv and serve as a source of pleasure, sometimes being connected with definite bathroom ceremonies.

Since data about (d±) his area about any subject are difficult, if not

impossible to secure unless one can obtain psychoanalytic material regarding the subject the frequency of the above characteristics in connection with the occurrence of (d0) cannot readily be established. However, psychotherapeutic patients have been studied who yield (d0) through we have learned much about this meaning of the (d0) reaction.

The (d0) is pathodiagnostically significant chiefly in regard to catatonic schizophrenia, already.mentioned in connection with a loss of interest in outside objects, and a general apathy. We will see that it is not an unusual constellation in certain types of criminals, excluding the most severe criminals. (In reflecting a-social behavior, (d0) appears with (m- and s+ or s0).

The (d0) is the most frequent (d) factorial constellation appearing between the ages of ten and sixty. (In ages less than ten, (d+) d is most frequent.) The highest frequency of (d0) is reached in young adults between the ages of eighteen and thirty. This seems to be the age range when outside objects are evaluated more from the “oral,” pleasuregiving point of view than from the more aggressive and possessive anal type of objectrelationship.

The (m) Factor

In interpreting the (m) factor, we will deal with those personality characteristics which can be derived from the early oral phase of psychosexual development. This stage is characterized by the fact that libidinal satisfaction is obtained mainly through the mouth zone by the act of sucking on the motherís breast. Among psychoanalysts it was Abraham who did most to develop the concept of the “oral character,” beginning with the sucking impulse, following up the vicissitudes of the oral drive, and describing how the satisfaction or frustration of this drive will influence the social attitudes of the adult. According to Abraham, the most important step the individual makes towards acquiring a satisfactory attitude in his social relationships is to deal successfully with his early oralerotism. If the infantís suckingpleasure is undisturbed his whole later attitude toward life will be optimistic, and he will have a friendly attitude toward his environment. In case there is overindulgence of the infantís oral needs, he might develop later a carefree, indifferent personality, assuming that somebody will take care of him as his mother did. If however, the infant is frustrated in the gratification of his oral needs, his later personality might reflect either aggressively demanding social attitudes, or erratic and exaggerated attempts to cling to others.

The information we get about the subject on the basis of his reactions to portraits of manic patients lies exactly in the dimension of those personality traits which Abraham described as having their origin in the oral drive. Thus the task is again to formulate an acceptable hypothesis which can account for the fact that portraits of manic patients can be used as a measuring stick for oral character traits. In linking the psychodynamics underlying mania with strivings originating in the oral phase of psychosexual development, we must rely, of course, on concepts known from psychoanalysis without, however, suggesting that the following theory has been stated per se. in psychoanalytic liteterature as an interpretation of the psychologic dynamisms underlying mania.

This qualification might well have been stated in the discussion of the theory of depression from the point of view of the Szondi test interpretation.

In considering the types of interpretation we derive from the various (m) factorial constellations, we have to assume that the symptoms of manic psychosis can be traced to the frustration of the early oral sucking drive. The first manifestation of the oral drive is the infantís sucking on and clinging to the motherís breast. In the course of development, the oral drive undergoes a number of changes in its manifestation, and in its place and function within the total personality. One form of later manifestation is the need for social contact, the “clinging to society” instead of clinging to the motherís breast. In our hypothesis, we assume that:

the symptoms of mania, starting with the typical hypomanic state, develop in those individuals who, in infancy or early childhood, failed to obtain a satisfactory amount of pleasure from the original sucking situation.

Whether this frustration was caused primarily by realistic environmental factors such as the motherís attitude toward feeding, or by the constitutional strength of the infantís oral drive which necessarily entailed frustration despite the attitude of the mother, is a question that can be put aside for the moment. In actuality, these two sets of factors most probably interact in the way Freud described as the functioning of the complementary series.

Important from our present point of view are the later consequences of this early oral frustration. In connection with the (m) factor, we assume that the restless behavior of the hypomanic or manic patient (in the state of hyper-elation and hyperactivity, but not in the state of agitated aggressive and offensive behavior) represents pathologically distorted attempts to make up for the oral pleasures he failed to obtain from the feeding breast in his early childhood. The hyperactivity characterizing the incipient stage of mania is to be understood in this light as a succession of attempts to extract the maximum amount of pleasure from the world in general.

· In the hypomanic state these attempts take the form of increased interest in the öbjects of the environment; the hypomanic person is so to speak - overcathecting the outside objects which, ternporarily, might make him feel happy, since the feeling of attachment to many objects is accompanied by a certain feeling of security, with the hope that these outside objects will at some time return the libido invested in them. Thus, the hypomanic patient is still optimistic because he hopes to draw pleasure and love he missed in his childhood from object relationships established in his later life. Hence, the characteristic attitude of expectation in hypomanic persons, or in oral characters in general. For this reason such individuals are likely to join many organizations, to make great and manifold plans, to start new undertakings in their field of work. The turning point in the apparent behavior of the manic patient occurs at the time of realization of his false premises: when he recognizes that new objects of his libido will not live up to his exaggerated expectations and will not furnish the necessary amount of gratification to compensate for pleasure and love missed in childhood.

This new disappointment breaks down the friendly and optimistic attitude of the patient and brings about his outbursts of manic rage and aggressive attempts to destroy the objects which have “betrayed” him again. On the basis of what is known about the interpretation of the (m) factor, we must assume that the stimulus portraits reflect the first phase of the above described “manic” process. We must assume, that the subject reacts to the need to cling to objects for the sake of obtaining pleasure and support, as expressed through the portraits of the (m) factor.

The various forms this oral clinging can take, from, literally, oral gratifications such as drinking, eating, smoking, and talking, to all the sublimated forms of the oral type of object relationship including social and artistic gratifications will be discussed in connection with the various (m) factorial constellations.

However, before going into the interpretation of the single constellations, follow here the characteristics of the (m) factorial or oral type of object relationship by contrasting the oral type briefly, with the d factorial, or anal, type of object relationship.

(m) Factor ORALITY (d factor) ANALITY
Objects wanted for the pleasure to be derived from them; for the support they can give, for clinging to them. Objects wanted for the sake of owning them; to accumulate thern and to control them.
Essentially passive relation to the object. Related to the h factorial object relationship. Active, manipulative relation to the object. Related to the s factorial object relationship.
Inlipatience and restlessness in regard to reaching a goal object. Perserverance and persistence in regard to reaching a goal.
Ability to give love and emotional support to the love object (through identification with the giving mother and through identification with the person who needs love and support). Tendency to overwhelm loveobject with material gifts.
More possibility for sublimation without resorting to the defensemechanism. of reaction formation (no exaggerated. anticathexis needed in sublimating oral impulses). More nced for resorting to reaction?formation in order to overcome the originally aggressive attitude toward objects; hence, the compulsive quality of "anal" type of love.

(C m+)

The (m+) reaction indicates identification with the need for external objects for the sake of “oral” gratification. The (m+) alone gives no reference for the primitivity or sublimitation of this need: the constellation of the remaining seven factors determines whether this oral need to cling to objects for the sake of enjoyment and support will manifest itself in primary oral activities, such as talking, eating, drinking, smoking, or in sublimated form, such as a drive to cling to objects for either artistic or intellectual pleasure.

In actuality, these various levels of manifesting the basic oral need often appear concurrently in the same person; for example, in the person who likes to eat and smoke while pursuing intellectual work. Subjects for whom the (m+) is a characteristic reaction may be described as oral characters, and the typical pattern of their objectrelationship may be described in terms of all those characteristics which were listed in the lefthand column of the summary of the oral versus the anal type of object relation.

· Thus (m+) implies a basically passive attitude towards the love object, the purpose being to enjoy the object and to lean on it for support. There is a need for dependence which, if not too strong, is an asset in establishing social relations.

However, if this need reaches more than optimal intensity (four or more choices in plus m), then this clinging to objects acquires the quality of anxiousness about the possibility of losing the object. It should be remembered that the anxiousness of (m+) is different from the worrying about the possible loss of the object mentioned in connection with (d+). In the latter case, the person is worried about the possibility of a material loss, while a (m+) person is afraid to lose the emotional support inherent in the objectrelationship. The (m+) generally indicates a warm social attitude and is given by subjects who not only are in need of positive emotions from others, but who also are able to give love and affection to others. Although this constellation, particularly if strongly loaded, is a sign of an unsatisfled oral need, it still implies the essentially optimistic attitude that the subject has not given up hope of obtaining gratification from external objects. As a matter of fact, it appears that a certain amount of tension in this area is desirable; or in other words, it appears that there exists an optimal amount of frustration in regard to the primary oral impulses

which results in the sustaining of a need to establish new social contacts. This state is indicated on the test by two to three (m+)ís. Accordingly

· (m+) is rather a counterindication for asocial behavior.

This is probably the only constellation among all the eight factors in any position about which I dare to make such a categorical statement: welladjusted adults who are able to form and maintain satisfactory social relations, are expected to give plus m. Welladjusted, that is, in the sense that they themselves feel content and have found their place in society as well as within a smaller ingroup of people, such as family or close friends. This specification is needed becauseas will be seen laterone does find highly sublimating and socially valuable individuals with other than m+ constellations; however, in those individuals the subjective feeling of contentedness and the ability to derive pleasure from close interpersonal relationships are missing.

· The (m+) is generally found in adults of the professional groups and is also the most usual (m) constellation in artistic sublimation achieved by writers, painters, sculptors, musicians, or those who form the appreciative public for any artistic production or creation.

These findings bear out the psychoanalytic theory which considers artistic sublimation, creation as well as intensive enjoyment, a successful sublimation of the oral component drive of sexuality; successful, first of all, since it is a socially positive channelization, and successful from the subjective point of view since the clinging to artistic or intellectual values is safer than the clinging to particular individuals whom one can lose in reality.

The latter interpretation of (m+) is usually correlated with (h-) and (s-) and a general plus tendency in the Sch vector.

· The (m+) is infrequent in serious forrns of pathology. It can be found in neurotic disturbances more frequently than in psychotic disturbances or than in any form of antisocial behavior. The connection between (m+) and anxiety has been mentioned above. Its highest frequency is found in hypochondriac anxiety and in adult stuttering. It is also frequent in homosexuals, perhaps supporting the relationship of homosexuality to fixation at the oral level of psychosexual development. It also points to the inner correlation between the (h) and the (m) factors already mentioned.

The frequency of (m+) in the various age groups shows great fluctuation. It is not very frequent in young children although the earlier we are able to administer the test to a child the greater is the probability of obtaining (m+) (still clinging to the mother in reality around the age of three). The (m+) is most unusual (not more than about 3 per cent) in children between six and nine years old. This disappearance of (m+) in children coincides with the great increase in plus d reactions, pointing toward the two facts that children of this age have given up (or were forced to give up) the closest attachment to their mother, and that they are more interested in collecting and manipulating objects than in continuing to cling to the mother or to a mother substitute. The (m+) occurs again more frequently around puberty, and becomes the most usual (m) factorial constellation from the age of seventeen on. This distribution is most probably due to the fact that oral impulses lend themselves relatively easily to sublimation through everyday social contacts. The preponderance of (m+) over the other (m) factorial constellations is particularly marked in advanced age between sixty and eighty, which indicates the anxious clinging to objects for support characteristic of older persons.

(C m-)

Negative choices in the (m) factor represent a denial the need to lean on others. They indicate a frustration of the early oral needs but, opposing the still optimistic attitude characteristic of (m+).

· Subjects yielding the (m-) reaction are those who have given up hope of compensating for early frustration through new social contacts. Instead, there is withdrawal and a certain sadness and coldness in interpersonal relations. (m-) subjects are lonely even though they may feel a great need for dependence on and gratification from external objects.

In adults, (m-) is always a sign of unhappiness, although in favorable configuration it might still accompany socially positive solutions of this basically negativistic attitude. Thus an individual might feel basically isolated in society, especially in regard to smaller ingroups, but still act in a highly ethical way even in regard to helping others to avoid the same fate he knows from experience. In these cases, (m- appears in conjunction with h- and s- and, usually, e+). However, in these individuals the helping attitude has usually all the characteristics of a reaction formation, and the exaggerated and sometimes aggressive way in which it is carried out betrays the strong anticathexis which has to be invested in the assumption of the role of “helper and “giver” by those who are themselves in greatest need of support and love.

Thus one can see that in the case of (m+) it is psychologically easier to sublimate the unsatisfied oral need than it is in the case of (m-). This difference might be due either to an original difference in the strength of the primary frustration, or to a different attitude toward this primary frustration. In the first case, there is an acknowledgment of this need, and the (m+) subject shows positive attempts to make up for the original loss, while subjects with (m-) deny to themselves the existence of the need to lean on others for the sake of obtaining pleasure and support. This attitude by itself implies a certain degree of anticathexis or, in popular words, a certain amount of selfdeception. The second “dose” of anticathexis is needed when a (m-) person not only denies his own need for support but tries to identify himself with the role of the “supporter” without acknowledging that what he really expects is love and affection in return (the latter is true for (m+) individuals who are also, able to identify themselves with the giving mother). The outcome of this whole complicated and unconscious process, which takes place when a (m-) person succeeds in channelizing his basic frustration into a helping social attitude, is an ascetic quality of the character which might enable the person to achieve high humanistic goals. Such individuals have a high frustration tolerance for realistic disappointments in life, since they never allow themselves consciously to expect much from life in the first place. The frustration tolerance of (m+) individuals is considerably less, just because of their optimistic expectations.

The socially positive solution of the (m-) constellation has been discussed to this degree because it represents an extreme and a rare outcome of the oral frustration indicated by this reaction. Our discussion of the anticathexis and reaction formation needed in order to maintain the ascetic altruism of (m-), is borne out by the findings that actually

· (m-) is the most frequent (m) factorial constellation for seriously antisocial (criminal) behavior. The logical implication of this finding is that in most cases destructively antisocial behavior has to be considered to be a reaction, or rather a revenge, on the external objects which fail to satisfy the personís intense need for oral gratification.

Thus the frustrated need for dependence would be the dynamic force underlying the “need for destruction”. The same dynamic process was described in the beginning of this chapter in our discussion of the turning point in the apparently elated behavior of the manic patient, during which we offered as explanation for the sudden outbreak of manic rage that it occurs when the patient realizes the futility of his attempts to extract satisfactory amounts of oral gratification from libidinously cathected objects of his environment. The results of the test show that actually (m-) is the most characteristic (m) factorial constellation for manic patients in their antisocial phase. The third pathodiagnostic group in which the minus m reaction is the most frequent is represented by epileptic patients approaching the outbreak of seizure.

· The similarity between the reactions of active criminals, manic psychotics, and epileptics before seizure is apparent in practically all the eight factors.

There is one group of neurotics in where (m-) is a frequent reaction; that is in conversion hysteria. In these cases the total test pattern resembles that of those subjects who were described as ascetic and altruistic despite their strong oral frustration. Conversion symptoms are most probably related to the basic repression of oral needs in these individuals.

The (m-) is most usual in children under puberty, particularly in the seven to eight year olds. The relinquishment of the strongest ties with the mother, which coincides with the highest frequency of the (m-), has been discussed in connection with the high frequency of (d+) and the infrequency of (m+) in this age group. Actually this is one group in which the usual interpretation of the (m-) has to be somewhat modified since it does not imply the same kind of unhappiness and isolation as it does in adults, unless it is strongly loaded (four or more), in which case it does indicate that the child is unusually lonesome and unhappy. Otherwise it corresponds to the “physiologic” process of growing up which involves nccessarily a gradual detachment from the mother, and it is not even desirable that the same clinging attitude should be transferred immediately towards new objects. In “normal” development there is an intermediate period (the latency period) when the child gets satisfaction from other than oral types of object attachment, such as curiosity in

the construction of objects, exploration of their practical usefulness, etc. Then, in puberty and in adolescence when various social contacts and intellectual enjoyments can take the place of the original clinging to the mother, the frequency of (m-) decreases with a simultaneous increase of the (m+). Least frequent is (m-) in old age.


The (m±) of the (m) factor expresses the subjectís ambivalence in regard to clinging or not clinging to objects of the environment. Because of this ambivalence, it reflects a critical state in the objectrelationship. Subjectively, this state of attempting to derive enjoyment from the environment (m+) while denying the possibility of this enjoyment (m-), results in a feeling of dissatisfaction, even more so than in the case of completely (m-). In the latter, there is at least no more conflict and there is a solution, even though in the negative sense of resignation. In the case of (m±), however, the indecision whether or not to give up unsuccessful attempts to obtain support and pleasure from objects of the environment, is more energyconsuming and depressing. Another explanation for the feeling of greater dissatisfaction and depression in (m±) subjects than there is in (m-) subjects is that in the former instance the (m+) component indicates that there is much less possibility of resorting to the defense mechanism of reactionformation than there is in the case of a completely (m-). In other words, (m-) subjects do not deceive themselves by denying their need to cling for support and love: they merely experience their disability to secure or maintain such satisfactory relationship. This is again one of the rare single factorial constellations which has definite diagnostic value in itself, in whatever configuration it occurs; namely, it always indicates:

· an unsatisfactory objectrelationship with subjectively experienced frustration in this sphere. The general characterization of (±) reactions in regard to their implying an ambivalence at the conscious or at least close to the conscious level of thinking, is particularly true in case of (m±). Acording to experience with individuals giving (m±), whose personality are well known from terapeutic work or otherwise, this frustrating object relationship (m±)) could be traced back in practically all cases to a basically undecided sexual orientation. They were individuals who actually experienced their basic bisexuality, thus being unable to derive satisfaction from either hetero or homosexual object cathexes.

Among the welldefined clinical groups, (m±) is most frequent in compulsion neurosis and in depression. Individuals entertaining suicidal phantasies frequently give this m factorial constellation. The psychodynamic explanation for all these outstanding frequencies has been implied in the foregoing.

The (m±) occurs most frequently in small children, 3 to 4 years of age, and again in old age, beyond eighty years. In all the age groups between these two extremes, (m±) is the least frequent of all the four possible positions in the m factor. The two outstanding frequencies refer most probably to the crises in regard to clinging to objects at the height of the Oedipal phase (3 to 4 years), as well as in senile regression.

(C m0)

The drained reaction in the (m) factor shows that oral tension is continuously discharged, indicating that

· oral character traits are a part of the manifest behavior rather than a dynamic source of energy in the unconscious layers of the personality. Just what form this discharging of oral need takes on the behavior level is hard to say. A statement I feel compelled to repeat in the case of almost every open reaction.

Usually it implies the excessive indulgence in some form of actual oral activity, such as overeating, drinking, talking. From the point of view of psychosexual development, it means that the oral component drive of sexuality has not subsided in its importance in favor of the supremacy of genital sexuality. In other words,. (m0), in adults, is an indication that genital primacy has not been completely established, thus being a sign of sexual immaturity. In individuals with constant (m0), the stimulability of the oral zon retains too much of its original strength and importance within the structure of the total personality. In the primarily sexual sense, in such individuals the oral excitability, instead of furnishing “forepleasure” which helps to bring about complete genital gratification, still remains and end in itself. This lack of mature sexual organization is usually associated with certain infantile characteristics of the personality, the sexual origin of which is not apparent unless it can be perceived by psychoanalysis. These infantile traits are reflected in the kind of object relationships the person is likely to establish. In case of (m0), the person is likely to establish numerous such relationships which, on the surface, give the impression that the person is finding his place easily in any situation. However, on closer examination, one finds that none of these relationships is really intensive and there is an easy interchancreability of objects. The typically (m0)person can be characterized as trying to “eat up the world, thereby attempting to establish quickly as many object relationships as possible to derive maximum amounts of enjoyment from the objects. This intense craving for objects, characteristic of (m0), is different from the need to cling to an object, as described in connection with ((m+) The latter is of a definitely more passive nature; in open m the original oralsadistic elements are more pronounced. The restless trying out of one object after the other, due to an anxiousness that something might otherwise be missed, can also be derived from the basic ambivalence characteristic for the original oralsadistic phase of psychosexual development. It is obvious that even though these subjects, at first glance, might give the impression of being exuberant, “happygo-lucky” individuals, they are basically dissatisfied because of the lack of mature, unambivalent relationship to one definite loveobject which can be reached only at the stage of genital maturity.

This genital immaturity is the root of the apparent contradiction in experimental findings that (m0) is characteristic of the superficially charming, apparently most sociable “bons vivants”, as well as of those who are weary of all these exaggerated, yet basically unsatisfactory, attempts to secure pleasure, and are ready to consider the possibility of suicide as a way out of this turmoil.

In the socially positive forms of solutions, (m0) can be found rather frequently in writers, actors, public speakers.

The pathologic significance of (m0) has been implied in the characterization of this position. Thus, it is found in:

cases of sexual immaturity and in those who have a tendency for oral perversion,

· in certain types of unstable acting out psychopaths, and frequently in

· those cases of anxiety hysteria in which anxiety manifests itself in fear of disability to enjoy the world fully enough.

· the gamblers, avid nightclub goers or, in general, all those individuals who feel uncomfortable unless every free minute is filled with plans promising enjoyment.

Among the various age groups, the highest frequency of (m0) m is found in puberty and between forty and sixty years of age. (Theoretically, it ought to be a typical reaction of the youngest children; however, the corresponding age group is below the age limit at which the test can be admiiiistered.) The two highest points in frequency might be indicative of the greediness of children in puberty in regard to enjoying the world, and also of the reinforcement of this hedonistic tendency in the later years of middle age.

The end of Part 1. Contact Vector

© 1996-2001 Leo Berlips, JP Berlips & Jens Berlips, Slavick Shibayev