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Rosenberger, J. Feng, H. (2019). Trauma by omission: Treating complex attachment dynamics in a Chinese woman. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 28(3):180-186.

(2019). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 28(3):180-186

Trauma by omission: Treating complex attachment dynamics in a Chinese woman

Judith Rosenberger and Han Feng

This paper presents a case of “trauma by omission” as a product of the attachment process. The absence of intimate and specific recognition and response by the caretaker of a child can create, by their omission, a “freeze” version of the fight/flight/freeze trauma response. The frozen moments, then dissociated, can become confusion and paralysis at the cusp of adulthood. This state is illustrated in the case below of a 23-year-old Chinese woman being treated by a 29-year-old Chinese male psychoanalytic fellow. The role of cultural context in “omission” is highlighted regarding development and treatment, which is taking place in a Communist society with a recent violent history of extinguishing individuality, modifying how attachment and individuation are expressed. A relational/interpersonal treatment orientation is applied and advocated at this intersection of individual and social realities. This paper contributes to attachment theory by raising awareness of how its many forms and outcomes may or may not be deemed healthy and functional.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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