A central thesis of this volume is that what human beings cannot contain of their experience—what has been traumatically overwhelming, unbearable, unthinkable—falls out of social discourse, but very often onto and into the next generation, as an affective sensitivity or a chaotic urgency. What appears to be a person's symptom may turn out to be a symbol—in the context of this book, a symbol of an unconscious mission—to repair a parent or avenge a humiliation assigned by the preceding generation. These tasks may be more or less idiosyncratic to a given family, suffering its own personal trauma, or collective in response to societal trauma.
This book addresses this heritage of trauma and does so both from clinical and societal perspectives. It considers first the legacy of the Holocaust, the study of which broke ground for the new field of transmission studies; then the analysis and enactments of trauma in more ordinary clinical practice; and finally more recent, large-scale traumatic events within American society. Throughout, the links between the "little histories" of people and families and the "big history" of a society are illuminated.
Lost in Transmission is not simply about how traumatic psychological injury is passed down to the children and grandchildren of those who originally experienced it. Even more, the insightful and personal essays in this collection are about finding the shared humanity in families, in psychotherapy, in society, and in memories of the past that repairs the damage people do to one another. A moving and inspiring book."
- Thomas A. Kohut, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Professor of History , Williams College
"For decades, psychoanalysts denied the impact of 'big history' on their patients’, and even their own, lives. Lost in Transmission brings the 'real' to centre stage. In this slim volume, a dozen unusually creative thinkers and analysts share with us what they have learned about the messages from the past contained in their patients’ symptoms. Lost in Transmission teaches us how the unacknowledged terrors of one generation can lead to neglect of the next, even in the analyst/analysand dyad; how historical traumas can be used deliberately to mobilize hate and violence; how the shame of previous generations can be stealthily imprinted on children’s psyches - leading them to avenge historical humiliations or assuage historical pain they may not even know of. These wise healers unlock the code. A critically important contribution to healing history’s lasting wounds."
- Jessica Stern, Former Erik Erikson Scholar; Advanced Academic Candidate, Mass. Inst. of Psychoanalysis; author of Denial: A Memoir of Terror and Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill
Table of Contents:
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND PERMISSIONS
ABOUT THE EDITOR AND CONTRIBUTORS
INTRODUCTION, M. Gerard Fromm
PART I: SHADOWS OF THE HOLOCAUST
CHAPTER ONE:The second generation in the shadow of terror, Ilany Kogan
CHAPTER TWO: The broken chain: legacies of trauma and war, Vera Muller-Paisner
CHAPTER THREE: Traumatic shutdown of narrative and symbolization: a death instinct derivative?, Dori Laub
CHAPTER FOUR: Clinical and historical perspectives on the intergenerational transmission of trauma, Peter Loewenberg
PART II: INSIDE THE CONSULTING ROOM
CHAPTER FIVE: The intertwining of the internal and external wars, Vamik D. Volkan
CHAPTER SIX: Treatment resistance and the transmission of trauma, M. Gerard Fromm
CHAPTER SEVEN: Turns of a phrase: traumatic learning through the generations, Barri Belnap
CHAPTER EIGHT: Intergenerational violence and the family myth, E. Virginia Demos
CHAPTER NINE: A quixotic approach to trauma and psychosis, Françoise Davoine
PART III: CONTEMPORARY AMERICA
CHAPTER TEN: A mosaic of transmissions after trauma, Howard F. Stein
CHAPTER ELEVEN: Heroes at home: the transmission of trauma in firefighters’ families, Kevin V. Kelly
CHAPTER TWELVE: Afterword: lost and found, M. Gerard Fromm