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Shengold, L.L. (1979). Child Abuse and Deprivation Soul Murder. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 27:533-559.

(1979). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 27:533-559

Child Abuse and Deprivation Soul Murder

Leonard L. Shengold, M.D.


Soul murder involves the deliberate traumatization or deprivation by an authority (parent) of his charge (child). The victim is robbed of his identity and of the ability to maintain authentic feelings. Soul murder remains effective if the capacity to think and to know has been sufficiently interfered with—by way of brainwashing. Questions are raised about pathogenesis. Some suggestions are made about treatment of those whose pathogenic fantasy life has been so influenced by traumatic reality. The need to identify with and to maintain the illusion of a good parent enforces the difficult resistance of denial (brainwashing becomes self-enforced). Paradoxically, in order to survive and adjust, some of these people so traumatized as children develop unusual strengths and gifts.

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