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Friend, J. (2014). Enduring Trauma Through the Life Cycle, edited by Eileen McGinley and Arturo Varchevker, Karnac, 2013.. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 4(1):98-100.

(2014). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 4(1):98-100

Book Review

Enduring Trauma Through the Life Cycle, edited by Eileen McGinley and Arturo Varchevker, Karnac, 2013.

Review by:
Julie Friend

The latest in a series of compilations of anthologies edited by McGinley and Varchevker, Enduring Trauma Through the Life Cycle is a thought provoking collection of excellent papers on the complex topic of trauma. The book is the outcome of a series of talks by the Psychoanalytic Forum of the British Psychoanalytical Society, and tackles a subject that every psychoanalyst and psychotherapist confronts regularly. But what is trauma? How do we define it, and what is important to consider in thinking about and addressing trauma? Michael Brearley, in his discussion with Nicholas Stargardt in the closing paper of this volume, notes that “trauma is an elastic, even a slippery concept, and it can easily be used in slippery ways. It can be widened so that it applies to the trauma of being an abuser, as well as the abused” (p. 219).

The book is structured in a deceptively simple way, its sections divided topically into childhood, adolescence, adulthood, older age, trauma and the couple, and trauma and society. We seem at first to be invited to consider the meaning and effect of trauma at these various stages of life. Within the manifest chronological view, however, are woven many additional themes and complex questions. In Britton's contribution, “External danger and internal threat,” he emphasises that both internally and externally originating experiences can be traumatic, and we are invited to think about the history of the concept of trauma and its centrality in the development of psychoanalytic theory.

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