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Kaplan, C.M. (2010). Navigating Trauma in Joseph Conrad's Victory: A Voyage From Sigmund Freud to Philip M. Bromberg. Psychoanal. Dial., 20(4):441-448.

(2010). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 20(4):441-448

Navigating Trauma in Joseph Conrad's Victory: A Voyage From Sigmund Freud to Philip M. Bromberg

Carola M. Kaplan, Ph.D.

In Victory, Joseph Conrad (1915/1924) revises his earlier treatment of trauma as a singular cataclysmic event in the life of a potentially heroic adult, usually male (as depicted in Heart of Darkness [1898], Lord Jim [1900], and Under Western Eyes [1911]), to a conception of trauma as the corrosive effect of a child's repeated exposures to emotionally invalidating caregivers. Abandoning a view of trauma that would accord with Freud's account of a single shocking incident, in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Conrad adopts instead a view that parallels Philip Bromberg's account of trauma as a series of toxic childhood occurrences. Thus Conrad's novel Victory presciently anticipates the corrective vision of contemporary relational psychoanalytic theory, which has largely supplanted Freud's more dramatic narratives with a subtle and nuanced understanding of trauma as a long-term lack of validation in childhood that forecloses adult possibilities. In Victory's portraits of two characters whose lives are constricted by pathological dissociation, Conrad presents literary examples that confirm and illumine Bromberg's clinical and theoretical explications of this pervasive psychological phenomenon.

[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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