"Feeling good in your own skin" part I: Primary levels of mental organization

Ravit Raufman, Yoav Yigael

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This two-part article (the first part published here and the second part will be published in the March 2011 Issue of the AJP), deals with the relation between a certain type of idiomatic expression, which we call somatic idioms, and what we recognize as the primary levels of mental organization. The article raises the following questions: What do we actually know about the primary levels of mental organization? What is the language's way to connect with the primary levels of mental organization? The first part of the article addresses the issue of how to describe and conceptualize the individual's earliest experiences, and how they continue to exist throughout one's adult life. The second part of the article focuses on the accessibility of the primary levels to language. Whereas most of the theories identify the primary levels as being outside of the linguistic realm, we suggest that some idiomatic expressions are the language's way to get in touch or connect with the primary levels. Therefore, the goals of the present article are to (1) characterize the primary levels of mental organization differently from the ways in which other psychoanalytic schools have done up until now; (2) reveal how language manages to find a way to connect with these primary levels, which are not outside of the linguistic realm, as has been previously suggested; and (3) exemplify the frequency and wide range of mental states-not only those which are pathological or extreme-in which the primary levels can be identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-385
Number of pages25
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychoanalysis
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • language.
  • mental organization
  • primary process
  • somatic sensations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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