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Diamant, I. (2001). On Not Being Able to Know Others' Minds: The Debate on Recovered Memories of Abuse from a Relational Perspective. Brit. J. Psychother., 17(3):344-352.

(2001). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 17(3):344-352

On Not Being Able to Know Others' Minds: The Debate on Recovered Memories of Abuse from a Relational Perspective

Ilan Diamant

The impact of trauma on the narrative memory or self-experience of victims of childhood sexual abuse and the current controversy about the status of recovered memories of abuse, are addressed in this paper. I will particularly focus on one form of knowing psychic trauma, that is, the subjective experience that is organized under transference and the countertransference phenomena.

Let me start with a short account of a session with Miss I, a 26-year-old patient, whom I see three times a week. Miss I started the session, noting that she could not sleep throughout the previous nights. She then described her experience as a trainee teacher. She said that the pupils did not have the book from which she had planned to work on so she had to improvise. She told them two short stories, ‘Ugly Duckling’ and ‘The Disguised Egg’. Her tutor criticized her. She felt confused. She felt she wanted to give her tutor much credit for what she was but, at the same time, she was frightened that the tutor would control her.

Her associations went on to describe many sleepless nights, lying next to her exboyfriend, whom she had described as continually controlling and sexually abusing her. She recalled her physical feelings. She was restless. Her joints were aching. She said: ‘It was like rheumatic pain in my muscles… It felt cold, the feeling engulfed throughout my body’. At the same time as she spoke about it she gently stroked her arms and thighs. She said that the feelings she described were signs of negligence.

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