Bleger, José (1923-1972)

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BLEGER, JOSÉ (1923-1972)

An Argentine doctor, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst, José Bleger was born in 1923 in Santiago del Estero, Argentina, and died on June 20, 1972, in Buenos Aires. He was one of the most original of the Argentine school of psychoanalysts. Through his psychiatric research he investigated psychotic phenomena, an interest that was to become the focus of all his later work. He was intimately familiar with the work of Karl Marx and an active militant in the Argentine communist party; he studied psychoanalysis with Enrique Pichon-Rivière.

Bleger conceived of the human being as a social being and affirmed the necessity of questioning the way in which the individual isolates and separates himself from others rather than the way in which he unites with others and socializes. An overview of these ideas is presented in his Psicoanalisis y dialéctica materialista, published in 1958. Ronald Fairbairn was deeply influenced by this theory, and it was through Fairbairn that Bleger was able to confirm that object relations determine the intensity and nature of anxiety as well as defensive strategies and tactics.

It is in Simbiosis y ambigüedad, published in 1967, that Bleger describes his most important theoretical concepts and their development. Here, in his psychoanalytic research, Bleger for the first time confronts the subject of symbiosis, generally following Kleinian positional structures. He describes an object that, for this primitive position, he describes as "agglutinated" by fusional anxieties and defenses that correspond to the so-called "glischrocaric" position. He initially attributed these anxieties and defenses to the "psychotic part" described by Wilfred Bion, but he then characterized them as increasingly undifferentiated. This led him to conceive of a step prior to the paranoid-schizoid position described by Melanie Klein.

Psychoanalytic psychopathology changed fundamentally in this theory, which Bleger reformulated in his work on schizophrenia, autism, mania, melancholy, perversion, addiction, and psychosomatic illnesses. The analytical technique concerning the framework, split interpretation, and timing varies depending on the form of the intervention and its participation in the phenomena of restitution.

Bleger also conducted research in the fields of institutional psychology, family psychology, and group phenomena. The problem of Judaism in the USSR turned him into an active militant in favor of the Jewish question and the international political aspects of the denial of freedom. He died prematurely in Buenos Aires at the age of forty-nine, at a time when his work was on the point of reaching its fullest expression.

Susana Beatriz Dupetit

See also: Argentina; Framework of the psychoanalytic treatment; Group psychotherapies; Individual; Individuation (analytical psychology).


Bleger, José. (1958). Psicoanalisis y dialectica materialista. Estudio sobre la estructura de psicoanalisis. Buenos Aires: Paidos.

(1966). Psycho-analysis of the psycho-analytic frame. asInternational Journal of Psychoanalysis, 48 (4), 511-519.

(1967). Simbiosis y ambigüedad; estudio psicoanalítico. Buenos Aires: Editorial Paidós.