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Silber, A. (1979). Childhood Seduction, Parental Pathology and Hysterical Symptomatology: The Genesis of an Altered State of Consciousness. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 60:109-116.

(1979). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 60:109-116

Childhood Seduction, Parental Pathology and Hysterical Symptomatology: The Genesis of an Altered State of Consciousness

Austin Silber


A particular kind of altered state of consciousness, as it occurred during the course of a lengthy analysis, was analysed. Its structure was that of a hysterical symptom and it was based on a 'reminiscence' from the past.

The rather specific pathogenic effect of a series of seduction/assaults, which formed the nidus for this symptom complex was carefully outlined. As a result certain defensive manoeuvres were set in motion. First a hypnoid state, based on a primitive identification with his mother and resting upon a fantasied symbiotic union with her, was activated. Then a specific defence, based upon the mechanism of denial and fostering a far reaching turning away from reality and espousing the primacy of a special type of fantasy formation which substituted for and acted as the emotional tie to this same parent was described. The importance of both the hypnoid state and the accompanying imagery (fantasy) formation for aiding in discharging the excitement of the overstimulated state was commented upon.

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