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Steinberger, C.B. (2014). Transforming Trauma: The Relational Unconscious and “Chemistry” in the Treatment of a Paraplegic Patient. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 62(3):399-421.

(2014). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 62(3):399-421

Transforming Trauma: The Relational Unconscious and “Chemistry” in the Treatment of a Paraplegic Patient

Claire Beth Steinberger

Therapeutic action with a traumatized paraplegic patient highlights the evocative—and transformative—influence of the relational unconscious. The patient's triumphant resolution suggests that formative bipersonal dynamics (including transference, countertransference, and mutual projective identifications) create an ongoing intersubjective enactment and relational chemistry pivotal to psychic shift. A broad systems perspective highlights contextual communication and the interweaving of the analyst's etiological contributions and subjective experience of trauma. Ultimately, an unconscious, co-created dynamic challenges traumatic fixations, supporting a reintegration of narcissistic, gender, and erotic representations and ego capacities. An eclectic perspective that illuminates the analyst's role-receptivity encompasses classical, object relations, relational, systems, and self psychological paradigms.

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