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Rothstein, A. (1986). Introduction. The Reconstruction of Trauma: Its Significance in Clinical Work, 1-4.

Rothstein, A. (1986). Introduction. The Reconstruction of Trauma: Its Significance in Clinical Work , 1-4

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Arnold Rothstein, M.D.

Freud's earliest hypotheses suggested perversion in the seducer produced hysteria in the seduced. This conception shaped early models of psychoanalytic treatment, an aim of which was the recovery of infantile traumatic memories and their abreaction. Freud's discovery of infantile sexuality influenced him to revise his conceptions of pathogenesis and mode of therapeutic action, placing a much greater emphasis not on what actually happened but on what a child fantasized and believed to have taken place. Fantasy and the creative aspect of the mind was stressed rather than the recording of actual memories.

An unresolved difference of emphasis is still with us as to the relative significance of the actual traumatic event as compared with the importance of the child's subjective experience. This difference is not of an either/or nature but is instead one of emphasis. It can be seen clearly in the contributions of Greenacre and Kris, and elements of it are evident in some of the more recent contributions to the subject of the psychoanalytic mode of therapeutic action.

Greenacre (1956) states:

Specific “fantasies” which persist until adult life are rarely only “typical” fantasies, common to all infantile development, but rather those typical ones which have been given special strength, form and pressure for repetition through having been confirmed by external events [p. 643].


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