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Stensson, J. (2001). Editorial: Trauma — Life and Death: A Transcultural Approach. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 10(1):1-2.

(2001). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 10(1):1-2

Editorial: Trauma — Life and Death: A Transcultural Approach

Jan Stensson, Ph.D.

In volume 1, no. 2 of Psychoanalysis and History (1) Carlo Bonomi published an interview with Nicholas Rand, dealing with the work of Maria Torok and Nicolas Abraham. While it is a pleasure to follow their learned and perspicacious dialogue, it also reminds me of how scantily and slowly fresh and original psychoanalytic experiences and ideas are disseminated within the psychoanalytic community, let alone in the outside world. Thus not many people will take part of the rich sources of experience of and thinking on human life that are welling up in different places in the psychoanalytic world, in books, journals and at conferences. Just as we can experience distress when we see how an analysand in spite of all efforts fails to mature fully, it is disturbing to see how little of psychoanalysis's potential is ripening in a fruitful way.

During the dialogue Nicolas Rand mentions Abraham's elaborations on a new theory of symbols. Although this theory is no longer so new, I have the impression that only a minority of psychoanalysts have heard of it. “It is a theory that posits the necessity for psychoanalytic and/or clinical interpretation to read dispersed memory traces, to read the testimonials left — in the body, gestures, the neurotic symptom or the use of the language — by life-threatening (psychic) disasters that had been repressed as such.” This formulation points to the central issue of trauma in clinical psychoanalytic work. It is not by chance that Abraham and Torok were inspired by the work of Sándor Ferenczi.

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