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Haynal, A. (1989). The Concept of Trauma and its Present Meaning. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 16:315-321.

(1989). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 16:315-321

The Concept of Trauma and its Present Meaning

André Haynal


Trauma is considered as an essentially economic concept: a psychic 'injury' in face of which the ego is helpless and overwhelmed. It is conditioned by the interaction between external reality and fantasies (where the former play a more or less important part). Trauma can be provoked by gross sexual stimulation, but also by 'abandonment' (traumatic separation) and the consequence of being overwhelmed by affects which cannot be mastered. It is noted that according to Ferenczi speech is the main tool for overcoming trauma; hence the importance of reaching the traumatic level in psychoanalytic treatments and, through speech, integrating the split-off past to the sphere of the ego; hence also the need for psychoanalysts to create conditions where a free exchange of ideas can allow for a working through of problems linked with psychoanalytic activities (countertransference).

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