Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Lissa Weinstein

Committee Members

Elliot Jurist

Diana Diamond

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Psychology


This theoretical/clinical-case study explores the function of provocative enactments as a means to regulate underaroused states and the affects associated with underarousal. A great deal of psychoanalytic literature emphasizes the function of provocative enactments as destructive or as a way to devalue others or disconnect from them; this function certainly exists in one class of such enactments where the actor’s goal is to destroy interpersonal ties or enhance self-esteem by kindling negative affect in the other person. However, this dissertation proposes that there exists another, distinct class of provocative enactments where their function serves to activate or reengage another person as a way for the actor to receive more stimulation and to dissipate the anxiety associated with experienced or anticipated underaroused states and the affects that accompany them; such affects can range from feelings of emptiness, deadness or boredom to a painful longing or deep sadness. This dissertation proposes that the distinction between the two classes of provocative enactments is clinically meaningful in the application of therapeutic interventions. This dissertation also attempts to describe the particular dyadic paradigms manifested in early development that would give rise to representational schema underlying this class of enactments; it is suggested that the elicitation of negative affect in the caretaker produced more effective dyadic regulation of underarousal than other interpersonal or self-regulating strategies.


Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.