chapter  8
Nothing comes from nothing: Failed births, dead babies
Pages 13

I will examine here a particular kind of birth trauma, we might call it, in which a person's primary mode of psychic functioning ± the very form or con®guration that subjective existence takes for an individual ± might best be described as a kind of negative identi®cation, in the sense of an identi®cation with the negative, with non-being, nothing, or the void. The trauma of birth for these patients is that it has never really happened, at least not in a way that inaugurates birth itself as a living process, one that can depict the metaphoric movement from one state into a fundamentally different, higher order of development. In fact, one could say that without birth there is no primal setting for metaphor, and therefore no way to elaborate a psychological story from the fact of brute existence. For the kind of patient I discuss here, there is a profound condensation of life with death, and the installation of an anti-birth that produces a dead baby, an abortion, or a stillbirth as the foundational fantasy that organizes the personality.