Freud wrote to Binswanger on the anniversary of his daughter’s death, “…we will remain inconsolable…I don’t care for my grandchildren anymore, but find no joy in life anymore.”
The author poses the question in this book; what legacy does grief, loss, trauma have upon the second and third generations? When Freud wrote “I don’t care for my grandchildren anymore”, what impact did his agonized grief have upon them?
Prophecy Coles has written this meditation on the ideas that have evolved in response to this question over her thirty years as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. Her central thesis is that we must not ignore, in our psychoanalytic practice, the impact of our ancestral history, especially if our ancestors have suffered, for their anguish can return and haunt us. It is the anguished return of traumatic experience that repeats itself across the generations and affects the way the next generation is perceived.
“This book will be of interest and value to anyone with clinical responsibility for patients, and for those whose traumatic past is still echoing—often unrecognized—in the present lives.”
- Patrick Casement, author of On Learning from the Patient
"Prophecy Coles invites us to meet the uninvited guests from our unremembered past. To reject her invitation would be to remain blind--blind to intergenerational traumas involving love, loss, cruelty, terror, hope and helplessness, and courage which influence our present way of interacting with others. Narratives drawn from Shakespeare, Aeschylus and Sophocles, and biographical sketches of Gorky, Primo Levy, Churchill and others, awaken our appreciation for understanding our transgenerational stories. Written in an engaging and accessible style, this book provides an opportunity for parents, psychotherapists and people in many other walks of life to be curious about unattended-to blind spots in family stories and family experiences, such as the impact of the nanny, grandparents, the dead baby or dead sibling, and momentary or longer term abandonment or trauma on our developing personality structures. Coles makes us aware of how essential it is to create discourses within ourselves, our families, and our clients, to give thought and meaning to the legacy of our past intergenerational patterns of relationships in order not to re-enact past traumatic dramas in interactions with others, at home or at work."
- Dr Jeanne Magagna, former Head of Psychotherapy Services , Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London
Table of Contents:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ONE: Aeschylus and ancestral history
TWO: Sophocles and the fate of adoption
THREE: Sibling ghosts
FOUR: Grandmother’s footsteps
FIVE: The nurse
SIX: The trauma of war
SEVEN: Brain development and trauma