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Schlesinger, G. (2012). A Brief History of Ghosts: Commentary on Paper by Laurel Moldawsky Silber. Psychoanal. Dial., 22(1):129-138.

(2012). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 22(1):129-138

A Brief History of Ghosts: Commentary on Paper by Laurel Moldawsky Silber

Gary Schlesinger, Ph.D.

Since Dr. Moldawsky Silber's paper aptly uses the concept to exemplify how the undigested past can cause psychopathology in the present, I decided to review the long, rich history of ghosts. As humans have always been drawn to images that allow them to represent and disown unwanted thoughts and feelings, ghosts have served to represent how unfinished family business in the past can cause problems in the present. I view such ghosts as existing in transitional space where they are able to move nimbly back and forth between the internal and external, depending on the person's capacity to avow and tolerate painful feelings. While Dr. Moldawsky Silber's cases describe how multigenerational work can stop the transmission of unwanted experience, I suggest that perhaps all successful therapeutic action must involve the detoxification of noxious, disavowed experience. I present a case example where a patient, despite all his efforts to protect his young son from the fate that had befallen his father, is in the process of passing along bad internal objects. I describe how the process of working analytically with these objects is able to result in a successful ghostbusting, thereby thwarting the transgenerational transmission of traumatic experience.

[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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