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Lingiardi, V. Mucci, C. (2016). Still harping on dissociation: From Janet to Bromberg, via Ferenczi. IJP Open, 3:74.

(2016). IJP Open, 3:74

Still harping on dissociation: From Janet to Bromberg, via Ferenczi

Vittorio Lingiardi and Clara Mucci

Contemporary psychoanalytic models, along with recent studies in neuroscience, have increasingly focused on clinical and empirical attention to traumatic experiences and memories, as well as dissociative phenomena. This paper aims to first provide an overview of Pierre Janet’s contributions on dissociation and how they have influenced the contemporary discourse on several pathologies, and then to explore and to bridge Sandor Ferenczi’s and Philip Bromberg’s clinical and theoretical perspectives. Analogies between Janet’s notions and current concepts such as mentalization, internal working models and relational schemes are illustrated to highlight some of the nuclei inscribed in pathological personality functioning. The primacy that Janet assigned to creative activity and integrative functions of consciousness, the central role attributed to environmental trauma and the description of fragments of personality split off from consciousness have important connections with some coeval approaches. The authors will go through Ferenczi’s up to Philip Bromberg’s contributions and recent studies in neuroscience, to point out how these data corroborate the radical paradigm shift in the contemporary psychoanalytic models of psychopathogenesis: from Oedipal repression to pre-Oedipal dissociation. The authors also highlight how, in the therapeutic relationship, where repetitions of the past in the present are reenacted, the therapist and the patient can co-create, in a protected and safe setting, new emotional memories and new stories and possibilities, aimed at inhibiting the automatic repetition of dysfunctional schemas, as well as restore the healthy aspects of dissociative functioning.

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