One. Toward a Leaky Sense of Self
1 As Marc Lafrance points out, Bick is critical in this instance of Melanie Klein’s
suggestion that all infants are capable of introjection and projection. In the
psychoanalytic literature, these are considered to be defense mechanisms.
Introjection refers “to an unconscious process of incorporating the attitudes
or attributes of an absent person—such as a father or a mother—into the self.
Through this process of incorporation, the self is able to feel closer to he or she
who is absent and, as a result, its anxiety is arrested. . . . Projection refers to an
unconscious process of expelling the self’s undesirable thoughts and feelings
into someone else. Through the process of expulsion, the self is able to get rid
of that which it cannot bear about itself and, as a result, its anxiety is allayed”
(Lafrance 2009, 20n5).
A more nuanced reading of psychoanalysis, and especially object relations,
could have been done in this chapter to more clearly diﬀerentiate Bick’s posi-
tion from that of Klein and to explore variants that are less dogmatic about the
skin- as- envelope (see, for instance, Ettinger 1999). My point, however, is less to
critique psychoanalysis than to propose a diﬀerent perspective on the body and
on aﬀective processes.
2 Lafrance writes, “According to Bick, the infant’s sense of being held together by
the skin does not occur automatically. This sense must be achieved, and it can
only be achieved if the infant’s body is stimulated in a way that gives rise to an
enduring experience of epidermal envelopment. If all goes well and the infant is
provided with regular and reliable experiences of skin- to- skin contact with its
caregiver, then it will over time be able to internalize—or, as Kleinians like Bick
put it, introject—the experience of the skin as a container” (2009, 8).
3 Bick describes second skins as formations “through which dependence on the