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Simon, B. (1997). If Someone Speaks, It Gets Lighter: Dreams And The Reconstruction Of Infant Trauma. By Lynda Share. The Analytic Press: Hillsdale, NJ: 1994, 277 pp.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:995-999.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:995-999

If Someone Speaks, It Gets Lighter: Dreams And The Reconstruction Of Infant Trauma. By Lynda Share. The Analytic Press: Hillsdale, NJ: 1994, 277 pp.

Review by:
Bennett Simon

This book comes at a time when there is a good deal of controversy over the possibility of retrieving in analysis and psychotherapy memories previously unavailable to consciousness. Especially pressing has been the question of retrieval of traumatic events, particularly abusive assaults by adults on children. The emergence of this issue in the law courts, especially in accusations by children against their parents, has added a new sense of urgency to this problem that has vexed psychoanalysis from its very beginnings. (Within a span of a few years in the late 1890s, Freud worried that he was suggesting to patients that they had suffered early episodes of abuse, while at the same time he had the opportunity at least twice to meet alleged perpetrators who admitted to the abuse).

What has been difficult to convey to the polarized sides in these debates is the accumulated psychoanalytic experience that the retrieval during treatment of a memory hitherto totally repressed is in fact quite unusual. The bulk of analytic work around memory consists of reworking the meaning and emotional impact of memories that are partially (or at times wholly) available to consciousness and expanding the implications and reverberations of those memories. Some analytic reconstructions lead to the patient's realizing that he or she knew quite a bit about certain events all along, but that various defensive maneuvers made it impossible to bear the pain of what was encoded. The other part of analytic experience that is difficult to convey is the way memory is telescoped—early memories are condensed and reshaped by later remembering and later retelling of the events, whether the retelling is by the growing child, by the family, or by both.

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