The Handed Self

A11 5

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Immersed in a proximal tactile world, the young infant must achieve the difficult task of intrapsychically separating out self from other during the separation-individuation process. With a focus on the significance of the human hand for the separating out of subjective self from objective world, this paper draws upon the field of object relations to investigate how it is that we become individuals with a limiting ego boundary, capable of separating inside from outside and attending to the outside world. My research proposes that the intimate relationship between the hand, eye and inanimate object of focus can function to enhance body-self boundary discrimination and object relationships in a studio practice that disciplines the practitioner’s attention. I will argue that the “binding together” of hand and eye made possible in a focused painting or drawing practice opens up a psychic space approximating the ‘holding environment’ of the mother, as defined by psychological theorist Donald Winnicott, a safe potential space for exploring symbiotic union and distance at the contact boundary between self and other.