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Neugebauer, R. (2015). Between the Idea and the Reality … Falls the Shadow: Commentary on Gobodo-Madikizela. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 63(6):1135-1139.

(2015). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 63(6):1135-1139

Between the Idea and the Reality … Falls the Shadow: Commentary on Gobodo-Madikizela Related Papers

Richard Neugebauer

In her profound and provocative article, “Psychological Repair: The Intersubjective Dialogue of Remorse and Forgiveness in the Aftermath of Gross Human Rights Violations,” Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela proposes that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established in post-apartheid South Africa, afforded the opportunity for survivors and perpetrators of atrocious violence to encounter one another in a unique dialogic space: a space free of questions of justice and punishment, and thereby permitting reclamation of agency, psychological repair, and rehumanization for both sides. Informed by her engagement in TRC activities and through her clinical work, Gobodo-Madikizela introduces a psychoanalytic framework for understanding and interpreting these encounters. Analogous to the psychoanalytic situation involving analyst and analysand, the TRC space provides, to quote Prager (2008), “a corrective emotional experience … to enable for those living presently the necessary re-working of the past” (p. 413). With an eye to remediation, Gobodo-Madikizela compares the relatively abundant literature on forgiveness in the private analyst-analysand relationship with the scant attention given to correlative issues in the highly public efforts to seek truth and reconciliation following gross human rights violations.


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