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Howard, S.A. (2019). BUILDING SHELTER IN A CHAOTIC WORLD: THE ROLE OF EMPATHIC IMAGINATION IN RECOVERY FROM TRAUMA. Psychoanal. Self. Cxt., 14(3):232-238.

(2019). Psychoanalysis, Self, and Context, 14(3):232-238

Original Article

BUILDING SHELTER IN A CHAOTIC WORLD: THE ROLE OF EMPATHIC IMAGINATION IN RECOVERY FROM TRAUMA

Sally A., Howard, Ph.D., Psy.D.

“We are never real historians,” Bachelard wrote, “but always near poets.” (Bachelard, 1958)

A core dimension of the therapeutic process is the creation of a safe emotional home, in which shame can be recognized and detoxified, and previously dissociated aspects of the self and self-experience can safely reside and be known. Safe analytic space might be called emotional dwelling, transitional space, the analytic third, secure attachment, embodied imagination, or in Bachelard’s words, felicitous space-- all of which is sometimes closer to a dream than to waking reality. In Bromberg’s words, it “serves as a playground” for intersubjective process to get going in a new way. This paper explores the role of the analyst’s imagination in the co-creation of safe space that allows for articulation of traumatic experience and the emergence of perspective taking through a shared recreative process. “The unconscious abides,” Bachelard wrote, “and a safe and well-housed unconscious is at home everywhere.” (p.10) The image of protected intimacy, the safe house is one that shelters, and importantly for Bachelard, protects the dreamer, allowing her to dream in peace. In this image of safety and shelter, imagination augments the values of reality; they deepen each other. “We are never real historians,” Bachelard wrote, “but always near poets.” In safe dwelling places, the greatest powers of integration--of thought, memories, and dreams-- occur. These concepts are explored in two case examples.

[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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