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Moldawsky Silber, L. (2012). Ghostbusting Transgenerational Processes. Psychoanal. Dial., 22(1):106-122.

(2012). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 22(1):106-122

Ghostbusting Transgenerational Processes

Laurel Moldawsky Silber, Psy.D.

Transgenerational processes contribute to organizing and disorganizing attachment. The past (in all its forms and potentialities) lives on in the present, influencing the affective field of the parent–child intersubjective matrix. In a child's construction of self, he or she may run up against the confounding presence of ghosts: the dissociated, and thereby unreflected upon past of their parents. This implicitly felt, yet explicitly unknown transmission interferes in the processing of emergent experience and impedes the child's development.

Attachment theory, informed by psychoanalysis, and nonlinear dynamic systems theory, is the main theoretical underpinning of this paper's examination of the mechanisms involved in the transfer of dissociated dynamics from parent to child. The child's symptoms grow out of an incoherent affective field that defies representational mapping into a flexible usable theory of mind. Through play a child therapist finds openings to enter the attachment system, reflecting on how a child's experience is being felt, yet unthought about by both child and parents. A parent's recognition process, thereby making what was implicitly felt explicit and consequently more coherent, supports the child in his or her efforts to reorganize aspects of the attachment relationship. Both clinical experience and quotations from literary works are woven into this paper in an attempt to convey the texture, emotional depth, and universality of the subject under discussion.

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