CHIARA VARI ON ‘SECOND SKIN FORMATIONS; ATTACHMENT AND EMOTION REGULATION IN SKIN DISEASES’
London Neuropsychoanalysis Group
‘Second skin formations’
Attachment and emotion regulation in skin diseases
Abstract: It is often remarked that Psychoanalysis has taken little interest in the real body. This remark does not seem to hold true if we turn to the study of the skin. Following Anzieu, systematic correspondences between the biological functions of the skin (e.g., basic support, fine-tuned temperature control) and the psychological functions of the ego can be established. While a holding and soothing skin-to-skin contact is the basis for the development of thinking, an early failure of containment can give rise to ‘second skin’ phenomena.
I will introduce a study focused on attachment representations and emotion regulation strategies in patients diagnosed with psoriasis, a chronic-recurrent skin disease affecting about 3% of the population worldwide. Psoriasis causes a great physical and emotional burden on the patient affected and represents a complex dilemma for both dermatologists and psychologists. The former face the challenge to treat a disease with an unclear aetiology and limited treatment options. The latter – informed by related fields of study as psycho-neuroimmunology – try to understand the complex association between individual subjective variables (e.g., ‘stress’) and psoriasis flare-ups.
In this presentation,attachment insecurity (i.e. dismissing state of mind) and difficulties in understanding and expressing emotions as emerged from the study findings will be interpreted from a psychoanalytic point of view, focusing on the experience of the skin in early object relations (Bick, 1968; Anzieu, 1989; Ulnik, 2011). The study results will be further discussed following Bion’s thinking on the role of early containment for the development of a capacity to think and elaborate emotions without the necessity to use evacuatory/somatic channels.
Short Bio: Chiara Vari is a Chartered Psychologist with a background in Dynamic and Clinical Psychology (La Sapienza University of Rome). She currently works as post-doctoral trial coordinator at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (King’s College London).
She is a Psychodynamic Psychotherapist in training at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.
Thursday, June 2, 2016, 6 pm, at UCL, 26 Bedford Way, London WC1 (north corner), in room 305 on the third floor; this event is free (places are limited).
Note: The next meeting will be on Thursday 6 October 2016.