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Fountain, G. (1993). The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. XLV, 1990: Who's Afraid in Virginia Woolf? Clues to Early Sexual Abuse in Literature. Lenore C. Terr. Pp. 533-546.. Psychoanal Q., 62:345.
    
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. XLV, 1990: Who's Afraid in Virginia Woolf? Clues to Early Sexual Abuse in Literature. Lenore C. Terr. Pp. 533-546.

(1993). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 62:345

The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. XLV, 1990: Who's Afraid in Virginia Woolf? Clues to Early Sexual Abuse in Literature. Lenore C. Terr. Pp. 533-546.

Gerard Fountain

In spite of its unfortunate title, this is an important study of Woolf's life and works. It shows how the early sexual abuse by her half-brothers determined her character; and how the characters she writes about show the same traits as Woolf herself. Terr believes that Woolf suffered from a "type II trauma-stress disorder." Persons with this trouble tend to be, among other things, "emotionally numbed," to use "splitting," dissociations, and turning against the self. Woolf was much like that: she was, for example, sexually anesthetic, or nearly so, and so are the people in her books. Terr has much more of interest to say about Woolf and her novels.

A striking point Terr makes is her own response to Woolf's writings. At least some of them leave her unmoved. She suggests that this is so because we never get close to what it feels like to a child to be abused sexually, and in many parts of Woolf's writings we remain equally remote from events—unclear as to what they are and how the subjects respond to them.

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Article Citation

Fountain, G. (1993). The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. XLV, 1990. Psychoanal. Q., 62:345

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