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Durban, J. (2011). Shadows, Ghosts and Chimaeras: On Some Early Modes of Handling Psycho-Genetic Heritage. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 92(4):903-924.

(2011). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 92(4):903-924

Shadows, Ghosts and Chimaeras: On Some Early Modes of Handling Psycho-Genetic Heritage

Joshua Durban

(Final version accepted 29 October 2010)

This paper describes three early developmental modes of handling the individual's psycho-genetic heritage. The first one, which characterizes normal development, is called living with the shadow of one's heritage. The shadow (of history, of life and death) is a natural counterpart of the self. The second mode, which accounts for more disturbed patients, is called living under the shadows of heritage. This type is characterized by an unconscious phantasy of the person being haunted by persecutory and vindictive ghosts instead of benign ancestors. The third mode, which might be encountered in severely disturbed patients, is being the shadow. This mode, called Chimerism, describes a confused organism which may turn against itself as parts of it are experienced as alien. On the unconscious level this signifies a heritage which cannot be experienced or mentalized as such. Rather, it is a complete chaos with moments where the hardly existent self is experienced as a bizarre object made up of non-combining, welded parts. These three modes will be examined with the help of material drawn from two analyses: of an autistic boy and of an adult patient who was persecuted by an unspeakable, horrific ancestral past.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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