L. Szondi

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This Contact vector translation is based on descriptions made by Jean Mélon in his book: ”Théorie et Pratique du Szondi, 1975, Liège”.

1 (C+0)

Strained search for a new object. Need for change. Curiosity for all that is new. Incapacity to attach oneself really, or for a long time to fix attention to a job or work.

The subject has no real attachment to the old object. He is always in the search for new objects, new feelings, open for random encounters. The contact is infantile, inconsistent and incontinent. This reaction one find in the

· hysterical psychopaths,

· the unstable hypo maniacs,

· certain types of passive homosexuals and also in

· many normal individuals of which the Ego is strong enough to contain their psychopathic or perverse tendencies.

2. (C0+)

Normal, stable, adult contact. A stability of attention, capacity to cathect. (invest) (Sentimental, professional)

(0+!) Exaggerated orality, drug-addiction in the general sense (Sucht), the neurosis of abandonment. The subject lives in a stable and trustful relation concerning the Object that supports him (Haltobjekt). He can consequently normally cathect the external world without testing the need for a substitute (Ersatzobjekt) but neither has to defend himself against such an object. The reaction (m+!) is always an indication need for exaggerated dependence, likewise as the fear of losing the object of love and a great intolerance to frustration.

3 (C-0)

Sticking rigid contact. Conservatism, perseveration. Incapacity to modify your choices. Anal character.

Such a subject shows a unilateral tendency to conservatism and retention. He is opposed to any kind of change, which he sees like a threat to his safety. When another person gets nearer he is perceived like an intruder or an enemy. His absence of creativity is counterbalanced by an obstinate attachment to the established values. When they are well socialized, such subjects are unconditional auxiliaries of the established order if not they are readily being suspicious, close to being paranoid. They show marked features of the anal character (avarice, ritualisation, constipation and other forms of retention). When they become anxious, they often express the fear of being dispossessed, to be robbed, to be violated and penetrated, etc.

4 (C0-)

Hypomania. Ruptures with the earlier established relations in the world and its values. Insulation, abandonment, vagrancy.

The subject tends to disavow all the values of the old world. He liquidates the archaic Superego and wants to be totally free. This reaction reminds of Freudís description of “the feast of the maniac.” There is not really a search for a specific object, but instead unrestrained consumption of anything. All is good because nothing has any value. This reaction is rare. One meets it in

· maniacs, especially at starting the period of their illness.

· schizo-maniacs, and

· a-moralistic or perverse psychopaths.

5. (C++)

Dispersed, double or pluralist contact, possibly polymorph- perverse tendencies.

The attachment to the object that supports (Haltobjekt) does not exclude the search for a substitution object. The subject expresses the need to live in contact with two or several different objects. This is the case, for example, of subjects who oscillate between homosexuality and heterosexuality. It is also according to Szondi, the case of those who feel an equal attachment to life (m+) and death (d+). Therefore this reaction rather frequent in

· hypochondria, but also in

· the general population where he must be interpreted like a sign of emotional immaturity.

6. (C--)

The loss of contact with reality. (Irreale Bindung). Rupture of contact. (Kontaktsperre).

The subject remains riveted (d -) to an object, which he lost or from which he was detached (m -). He trails a corpse behind him. Of all the forms of contact, this is the most pejorative and most tragic. It is often accompanied by a feeling of futility, of being of no value and of irremediable misfortune. The neurotics who forward this profile are generally obsessed by the idea of death or are overpowered by suicidal thoughts. At all ages it is also a reaction that warns against a possible outbreak of psychosis, but especially in young people.

These subjects are mainly very rational but completely unrealistic because they oppose a formal refusal to any form of object attachment. They spend a considerable energy to convince themselves that it is possible to live without attachment. Their narcissism is often crushing.

7. (C±0)

Ambivalence in the search for a new object.

All the problems of the subject are concentrated on the question of knowing if he can or not can attach to a new object. Taken in the trap of this alternative, it will often happen that he establishes a cleavage between his real existence and his imaginary life. In reality, he will express a compulsive fidelity to his father, his mother or to the ego ideal of his childhood. On the other hand he will detach himself violently from all these attachments in his dreams. He might even live in reality in a sublimated homosexual relation that will compensate him for his fidelity to the old object.


Ambivalence in the attachment to the old object. Unhappy insecure contact.

The subject hesitates between attachment and detachment regarding the old love object. This ambivalence mainly causes a feeling of doubt, insecurity, and sadness, even of despair, especially as the question of the object of replacement does not arise, is not posed anymore or is not posed yet (d0).

His questions are “Am I being loved or not”, “Can I trust or not trust that what until now constituted me.” It is a rather typical reaction of the obsessional subjects and depressive characters.

9. (C+-)

Infidelity. Search for a new object, rejection of the old one. Autistic depressive contact.

In itself, this form of contact represents a necessary stage of development. It is the one where the subject, after having passed the loss of the primary love object, starts searching for a substitute. However, as necessary as it may be, this phase of detachment that at the same time corresponds to a new departure is always painful. To renounce the world as it was before the rupture is never completely succeeded. The new object that is searched for is anyway nothing else than a substitute for the old one. Just as the loss of the object is inescapable, the idea that there might exist a radically new object, likely to fill all the desires of the subject, is another illusion. Let us recall that (m-) is the consequence of the refusal of dependency and refers to the incapacity to really enjoy the object. The preceding reaction (d-m+) was caused by an attempt to avoid the depression, by the negation of the loss. Here, the subject goes rather ahead of the depression, supported only by the hope of a miracle. He broke his mooring ropes and sails already towards another world, which he often foresees only to find in the one beyond death. This world has no value any more. This is why the subjects, who give this reaction, often seem to be elsewhere. In their way of contact they do not seem to be present, but seem autistic. In opposition to the hypomaniac reaction (d0m -), Szondi speaks here about the hypomelancolic reaction. This specific form of contact one finds among the psychotics and hysterioid mythomaniacs (BOVARY) incompetent to establish concrete object relations as generators of pleasure. The reaction (d+m-) also can be found in

· the antisocial psychopaths, the robbers in particular.

10. (C-+)

Faithful relation with the original object. (Inzestbindung). Oedipal fixation.

The subject clings to its first object of love and refuses to seek another. In this way, this relation can be described as incestuous as it refers to some extent, to the childís primary incest feeling. This relation is based on the illusion that the object is imperishable and that it could always totally satisfy the subject. This is an illusion that cannot stand the attack of reality. Such a disposition is often generating as much love as hate for the loved object, as is often the fate of exclusive relations.

Considered from the ontogenetic point of view, this reaction greatly magnifies what occurs at “the eighth month stage." Then the child is frightened by all that is not the mother and clings to her with violence. This way of reacting is frequently found in:

· many neurotics who defend themselves against the idea of a possible loss of the loved object and in

· those who repress and deny their incestuous tendencies, especially the hysterics.

In normally socialized or sublimated individuals who give this profile, one usually discovers a strong maternal identification that leads them to a devotion without limits to work in the service of humanitarian ideals. Usually (d-m+) must be regarded as a “positive" reaction that expresses the capacity of a faithful attachment to a specific object and a good aptitude to sublimation.

11. (C - ±) Rupture of contact accompanied by a remainder of ambivalent

attachment. Sad fidelity.

The subject remains clung to an object that he virtually already lost. He lives in a painful uncertainty as for the feelings of this object of which he awaited all or almost everything moreover he is unable to search for a new object. He suffers from a fidelity that tortures him. This reaction is particularly frequent in

· obsessional neurotics,

· catatonics and the subjects are predisposed to react in a paroxysmal way. (hystéro-epileptics, asthmatic, migraine.)

12. (C±-) Rejection of the old object with ambivalence in seeking for a new object.

This reaction is rare.

13. (C+±) Depression. This reaction is rather pathognomonic.

The subject realizes that he does not have any more an object he can cling to (HALTOBJEKT). The former object insures not any more the needed basic security, the firm basis on which he could stand. This insecurity pushes him to search for a new object, but the ambivalence that he feels for the old object makes this research unpredictable. The new object he seeks only can be a substitute (ERSATZ) for the old one. As Freud in a brilliant way showed, corresponds the depression of mourning to the slow work of withdrawal of the cathexis from the old object, with which the subject developed an ambivalent attachment. The depression starts not when the subject gets conscious of the loss of the object but when he decides to replace it, because it is at this moment that the need to disinvest the old object is essential.

In melancholy, this work of liquidation of the object is carried out by the process of introjection (k+) and the reversal of the aggression against the subject's own body (s -). The reaction (d+) indicates a corresponding painful tension due to the search for a new object and its valorisation.

The reaction (d0m0), which is also characteristic of depression, is rather the prerogative of the depressed, the asthenic or apathic person, who do not suffer any more because they arrived at the point here the external world ceased being invested.

14. (C±+)

Attachment to the old object with hesitation to search for a new object. Rare reaction, met in

· hypochondriacs,

· phobics and

· the paroxysmal subjects.

15. (C±±)

Problematic, intolerable Contact.

The subject stands on the border of all possible forms of object relations. This posistion is practically intolerable and is generally accompanied by disintegration of the Ego (Sch00).

16. (C00)

The absence of contact. Disintegration of the object relations. Extreme regression. Infantilism.

This reaction can mean that the subject defends heself against any form of contact as he is the case among certain schizophrenics. Instead he can also mean that he is satisfied wheh a very regressive form of contact of préobjectal qualhey (polymorphic- perverse, homosexual, or exceptional immaturhey). Sexual immaturhey is most probable. The accession to genhealhey is only possible if there is a certain degree of the residual stress of the pregenheal needs, oral and anal. If those find a satisfaction by themselves as one can suspect in this respect, their genhealhey will be subordinated to the pregenheal tendencies, rather than the reverse.

THE END Contact vector

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