If Someone Speaks, it Gets Lighter: Dreams and the Reconstruction of Infant Trauma

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Can a newborn infant accurately record traumatic experience? Can early truamas be retained in memory? How would such traumatic memories affect later development? Where should we look for evidence of such traumas in adult patients?

If Someone Speaks, It Gets Lighter provides surprising answers to these questions. Taking as her point of departure both her own clinical experience and case reports in the analytic literature, Lynda Share provides a thorough, at times revelatory, examination of the basic issues. She proposes that the controversy between narrative and historical truth be redefined in terms of the distinctly different memory systems involved and in terms of the special mechanisms whereby trauma, as opposed to ordinary expectable experience, becomes a major unconscious organizer of behavior and memory. Then, winding her way skillfully through contemporary debates about the limits of reconstruction, she argues persuasively that the impact of early infantile trauma can become accessible through disciplined analytic inquiry. Indeed, for Share, to forego the possibility of reconstructing such traumas in favor of an exclusively here-and-now interpretive approach is to risk perpetuating the trauma in all its pathogenicity. By contrast, when trauma can be reexperienced meaningfully in treatment, both behavioral reenactments and trauma-related transference issues can be dramatically clarified.

Demonstrating her point with vivid clinical case reports, Share emphasizes the special value of dream interpretation in recovering the full psychological impact of events that occurred in the first few years of life. Through the imagistic dimension of dream formation, unconscious traumatic memories gain access to an expressive vehicle through which the patient, aided by the analyst's understanding, can begin to work through early experiences that have heretofore been dimly known but not felt.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"With unusual scholarship and clinical versatility, Lynda Share integrates a vast amount of psychoanalytic and interdisciplinary knowledge in explicating a very important theme: the capacity of dreams to serve as a living archive of traumata from the earliest periods of life. Like an art curator who, in the case of pentimento, discovers an older painting beneath a superimposed one, Share demonstrates that archaic traumatic memories can reveal themselves through disciplined dream investigation. We are the beneficiaries of a very rich harvest in this extraordinary contribution to the psychoanalytic literature."

- James S. Grotstein, M.D., Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Institute

"This thought-provoking book challenges psychoanalytic clinicians to reexamine their fundamental beliefs about dreams, memory, mental representation, reconstruction and recall of early childhood, including neo- and even prenatal trauma. Its controversial thesis - that even the earliest, prerepresentational trauma can be discerned and reconstructed from dreams, transference, character and nonverbal behaviors - has important implications for psychoanalytic clinical theory and technique."

- Howard B. Levine, M.D., Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis

"To what degree do our adult dreams and bodily and behavioral characteristics hearken back to our earliest experiences, especially traumatic ones? This book vigorously argues that pre- and postnatal experienced can, in fact, be reconstructed. It is a thoughful, scholarly contribution to an area on the cutting edge of psychoanalytic research; its arguments are elegantly made. Even the most hardened skeptics will have to address Share's carefully stated and well-documented positions."

- Joseph E. Lifschutz, M.D., San Francisco Psychoanalytic Institute and Society

"The clinical examples will be a source of amazement to those professionals who have dismissed altogether the possibility of reconstructing actual events from the first year of life. Share describes in detail her method of working with dream material, and even skeptical readers will be impressed with the consonance of her interpretations with her patients' transferences, with her own countertransferences, and with her patients' particular ways of being apprehensive about 'going out' into the world."

- Jean B. Sanville, Ph.D., Los Angeles Institute for Psychoanalytic Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780881631821
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 11/28/1994
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynda Share, Ph.D., is a member of the Senior Faculty of the Psychoanalytic Center of California Institute and a member of the International Psychoanalytic Association. She lectures and consults widely in the area of dream interpretation and teaches dream analysis at various clinical graduate programs in Los Angeles. Dr. Share is in private psychoanalytic practice in Beverly Hills.

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Table of Contents

Introduction. Freud: Trauma, Reconstruction, and Memory. Infant and Childhood Trauma. Psychoanalytic Reconstruction. Prenatal and Neonatal Mental Life. Infant Memory. Reconstruction of Infant Trauma: Cases from the Literature. Psychoanalytic Dream Theory. Reconstruction of Infant Trauma from Analytic Dream Material: Clinical Examples. Conclusion.

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