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Grubrich-Simitis, I. (2020). Épreuve de réalité au lieu d'interprétation. Une phase du travail psychanalytique avec des descendants de survivants à l'Holocauste. Rev. fr. psychanal., 84(2):467-492.

(2020). Revue française de psychanalyse, 84(2):467-492

Épreuve de réalité au lieu d'interprétation. Une phase du travail psychanalytique avec des descendants de survivants à l'Holocauste

(Reality Testing in Place of Interpretation: A Phase in Psychoanalytic Work with Descendants of Holocaust Survivors)

Ilse Grubrich-Simitis

Repetition of experiences endured by the first generation has frequently been observed in descendants of Holocaust survivors. Such repetitions are associated with an erosion of the ability, in the area of the trauma, to distinguish more or less reliably between external and internal reality. This, in turn, results from the defensive need, in the affected families, to dissociate from such extreme traumatic experiences. Clinical material shows that, in a certain phase, when working psychoanalytically with patients from successive generations, it is necessary to temporarily suspend interpretive interventions to facilitate reality testing and the recognition of the Shoah as an objective historical fact. This also fosters the transition from repeating to remembering. Advocating such a course runs counter to the current psychoanalytic contention that therapeutic efficacy is most likely to be achieved through material elicited from the immediate transference-countertransference interactions in the here-and-now of the analytic situation, which is thought to provide access to what is stored in implicit memory. The clinical material demonstrates why, in the context of trauma, traditional psychanalytic work of reconstruction, i.e paying attention to and taking account of external reality and of what is encoded in explicit, autobiographical memory, is indispensable.

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