Depressive anxiety (the core of the depressive position) is a somewhat clumsy technical term for the pain of loss, and the guilt of ambivalence. In her descriptions of that state of mind she moved to the ways in which people cope, specifically the unconscious defence mechanisms that may be used to evade the experience of loss and ambivalence. She also thought that depressive anxiety was potentially an important source of motivation. It is as if some loved person who has been attacked and damaged or lost altogether can be, at least in one’s mind (in psychic reality), restored. Such activity to repair can then take place in the life and relationships in the external world, using them as substitutes. Those others representing lost or damaged persons are cared for in one’s mind and in external reality. This process she called ‘reparation’.
In this chapter, we will start by asking: How do these evasive defences and the reparative methods work? 67