Every human being about to be born is loaned a provisional identity. This identity is embodied in the name they are given, as an invention, internal need, or generational obligation, parental fantasy or delusion. Both the person receiving and the person bestowing the name—and, with it, the provisional identity—are unaware of all this.

Interweaving theoretical reflections and clinical histories, Pia De Silvestris illustrates the dramatic nature, the profundity, and the cryptic complexity of the challenges posed by this difficult identity—challenges she has faced repeatedly throughout her psychoanalytic career. She sees the role of transference in psychic and relational life as a "continuous search for the origin", a force that develops continuously through a variety of exchanges and investments, which seek, on the one hand, to weaken the bond to the original object and, on the other, to preserve it until death. Throughout the book’s chapters, we see how it is precisely the product of the transference experience that permits the joint work of identity construction to begin. Transference is always the outcome of an experience of fulfilment and an encounter with the other; and it is desire of the other that promotes the search for the self.

chapter Chapter One|4 pages

Difficult identity

chapter Chapter Two|9 pages

Interminable illusion

chapter Chapter Three|10 pages

Identity: internal objects and the superego

chapter Chapter Four|6 pages

Identity: from oedipal vicissitudes to adolescence

chapter Chapter Eight|6 pages

Vicissitudes of identity and marriage

chapter Chapter Nine|9 pages

Transference: a continuous search for the origin

chapter Chapter Ten|10 pages

On analysis terminable and interminable

chapter Chapter Eleven|8 pages

Loss and its destinies

chapter |6 pages