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Anti-epiphany and the Jungian Manikin: Toward a Theory of Prepsychotic Perceptual Alterations

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This paper articulates a psychodynamically informed phenomenological reading of prepsychotic perceptual alterations, which the author calls anti-epiphanies. Several of Carl Jung's experiences of the anti-epiphany, as described in his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1961), are taken as exemplar cases. These anti-epiphanies are viewed through a critical psychobiographical lens, in an interpretationwhich tacks back and forth between Jung's childhood, psychological theories, and later prepsychotic experience. It is claimed that Jung's anti-epiphanies are linked to his use of schizoid-narcissistic forms of transitional selfobjects, referred to as Jungian manikins. Such Jungian manikins, it is argued, function to defend the subject against annihilation anxieties related to psychological engulfment, penetration, and finalization. When these anxieties become especially pronounced, the subject's entire perceptual world may be defensively used as a Jungian manikin, creating an anti-epiphany. The author conjectures that similar patterns of experience may be operative in the prepsychotic perceptual alterations had by those with schizoid-narcissistic character pathology.


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