Micro-trauma: A psychoanalytic understanding of cumulative psychic injury explores the "micro-traumatic" or — small, subtle psychic hurts that build up to undermine a person’s sense of self-worth, skewing his or her character, and compromising his or her relatedness to others. Together they amount to what has been previously called "cumulative" or "relational trauma." Until now, psychoanalysis has explained these negative influences in broad strokes, using general concepts like psychosexual urges, narcissistic needs, and separation-individuation aims, among others. Taking a fresh approach, Margaret Crastnopol identifies certain specific patterns of injurious relating that cause damage in predictable ways, and she shows how these destructive processes can be identified, stopped in their tracks, and replaced by a healthier way of functioning.
Seven different types of micro-trauma — all largely "hidden in plain sight" are described in detail, and many others more briefly. Three of these micro-traumas—"psychic airbrushing and excessive niceness," "uneasy intimacy," and "connoisseurship gone awry"—have a predominantly positive emotional tone, while the other four—"unkind cutting back," "unbridled indignation," "chronic entrenchment," and "little murders"—have a distinctly negative one. Margaret Crastnopol shows how these toxic processes may take place within a dyadic relationship, a family group or a social clique, with the consequence of causing collateral psychic damage all around.
Using illustrations drawn from psychoanalytic treatment, literary fiction, and everyday life, Micro-trauma : A psychoanalytic understanding of cumulative psychic injury outlines how each micro-traumatic pattern develops and manifests itself, and how it wreaks its damage. The book shows how, an awareness of these patterns can give us the therapeutic leverage needed to reshape them for the good. This publication will be an invaluable resource for psychoanalysts, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counsellors, social workers, marriage and family therapists, and for trainees and graduate students in these fields and related subjects.
Crastnopol’s book divides up the world in whole new way. "Micro-trauma" is a convincing conceptualization of some of the most problematic happenings between people. But despite its novelty—and it is brand-new--what Crastnopol describes will be immediately recognizable to any clinician. Add lucid and entertaining writing that is often actually gripping, and you have the makings of a book that will be read at all levels of the field, from students to seasoned analysts. - Donnel Stern, Ph.D., William Alanson White Institute and New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.
Margaret Crastnopol’s "Micro-trauma: A Psychoanalytic Understanding of Cumulative Psychic Injury" is an exceptional book because it is genuinely original contribution to understanding ourselves and others in our day in and day out, lifelong, prosaic, and most intimate interactions. Crastnopol draws on the full range of psychoanalytic thinking to articulate the many ways that we undermine the self-worth and well-being of one another and of ourselves. Reading this book will help therapists and others, all of us, to better understand and catch ourselves as we subtly and unconsciously invalidate, misattune, and misrecognize ourselves and each other. Her creative and literary explication of such relational dynamics as "unkind cutting back," "psychic airbrushing," "chronic entrenchment," and "uneasy intimacy," among many other characterizations are both immediately useful and unforgettable. - Lewis Aron, Ph.D. is director, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy & Psychoanalysis.
In our contemporary "in-your-face" culture, nuance and subtlety have all but disappeared. Yet these barely- registering phenomena live on in the sounds and silences of the psychoanalytic consulting room. Indeed they are the heart and soul of psychoanalytic discourse. In this superb new contribution, Margaret Crastnopol, an astute observer of those quotidian minutiae that fly under the radar, provides a comprehensive survey of micro-trauma that make up the fabric of our existence but may go unaddressed and unobserved in the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. She deftly depicts the little murders, the withdrawals, the slights, and the stifled emotions that make psychoanalysis unique among the panoply of treatments in today’s marketplace. I highly recommend this book to both beginning clinicians and experienced analysts. - Glen O. Gabbard, MD, Author, Love and Hate in the Analytic Setting
Table of Contents:
Acknowledgments. Cumulative Micro-trauma that's Hidden in Plain Sight: An Overview. Unkind Cutting Back and Its Navigation. Connoisseurship Gone Awry. Uneasy Intimacy-A Siren's Call. Psychic Airbrushing and Excessive Niceness. Chronic Entrenchment and Its Collateral Damage. Unbridled Indignation. Little Murders and Other Everyday Micro-Assaults. Toward Repair.
About the Author:
Margaret Crastnopol (Peggy), Ph.D. is Faculty, Seattle Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and Supervisor of Psychotherapy and Faculty, William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychology. She writes and teaches nationally and internationally about the analyst's and patient's subjectivity; the vicissitudes of love, lust and attachment drives; and varieties of micro-trauma. She is in private practice for the treatment of individuals and couples in Seattle, WA.