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Abstract:

Coming from the field of architecture, Sperber explores the processes in which buildings expand the range of human experiences. Using the nineteenth century term empathy from philosophy of art as well as current psychoanalytic notions of mentalization and the relational understanding of trauma, she contends that the building can reconnect the inhabitant to affects that have been avoided, split off or dissociated by trauma or non-reflective parenting. She further articulates the difference between architecture and the Winnicottian transitional object. While the transitional object garners its power through the child’s projection of affect to compensate for the unavailable mother, buildings always act as both symbols of their functions and the embodiment of the function they represent. Buildings literally and emotionally contain, shelter and protect. The building in site creates new personal and social experiences which, like psychoanalytic insight,foster new ways of being.

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