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Csillag, V. (2017). Emmy Grant: Immigration as Repetition of Trauma and as Potential Space. Psychoanal. Dial., 27(4):454-469.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 27(4):454-469

Emmy Grant: Immigration as Repetition of Trauma and as Potential Space

Veronica Csillag, L.C.S.W.

Some environments are so toxic that one needs to move far away to extricate oneself from their poisonous field of gravity. The desire to escape a noxious interpersonal constellation in a corrupt society can be a motivating factor in the choice to leave one’s country. Oedipus fled from Corinth to evade the fate of murdering his father and marrying his mother, as predicted by the oracle at Delphi, only to find himself in Thebes, where he was born, murdering his father and marrying his mother, thus fulfilling the prophecy he set out to escape. Like Oedipus, immigrants frequently find themselves in the kind of milieu they were hoping to leave behind. Life in a strange land, far from a familiar environment may recapitulate and even intensify the disjointed experience of a poisoned childhood. Away from one’s original environment reality no longer intrudes upon fantasy, and one’s destructive introjects gain free reign. The past remains arrested and it can easily turn into an imaginary static realm. Paradoxically though, immigration can also facilitate healing. Exile can become a haven, a potential space, if you will, in which to develop the capacity to think and build linkages and process a disturbing personal and historico-political domain.

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