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Gerzi, S. (2005). Trauma, narcissism and the two attractors in trauma. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(4):1033-1050.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(4):1033-1050

Trauma, narcissism and the two attractors in trauma

Shmuel Gerzi

In this paper, the author sets out to distinguish anew between two concepts that have become sorely entangled—‘trauma’ and ‘narcissism’. Defining ‘narcissism’ in terms of an interaction between the selfobject and the self that maintains a protective shield, and ‘trauma’ as attacks on this protective shield, perpetrated by bad objects, he introduces two attractors present in trauma—‘the hole attractor’ and the structure enveloping it, ‘the narcissistic envelope’. The hole attractor pulls the trauma patient, like a ‘black hole’, into a realm of emotional void, of hole object transference, devoid of memories and where often in an analyst's countertransference there are no reverberations of the trauma patient's experience. In the narcissistic envelope, on the other hand, motion, the life and death drive and fragments of memory do survive. Based on the author's own clinical experience with Holocaust survivors, and on secondary sources, the paper concludes with some clinical implications that take the two attractors into account.

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