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Adams-Silvan, A. Silvan, M. (1994). Paradise Lost: A Case of Hysteria Illustrating a Specific Dynamic of Seduction Trauma. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 75:499-510.

(1994). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 75:499-510

Paradise Lost: A Case of Hysteria Illustrating a Specific Dynamic of Seduction Trauma

Abby Adams-Silvan and Mark Silvan


This paper presents extensive clinical data illustrating the case of a middle-aged woman, who as a child participated in an extended sexual relationship with her elder brother. The patient suffered from an hysterical personality disorder with somatic distress and a compulsion to repeat disastrous social and work situations. In her treatment, the patient re-enacted the seduction and subsequent experience in various ways. The analysis and understanding of her symptoms, social problems and re-enactments in the transference strongly suggested that the trauma of her seduction was the result of the loss of precociously stimulated and experienced pleasure rather than loss of impulse control. The compulsion to repeat apparently represented the wish not only to master, but the desire to return to the pleasure of the experience as a true compromise formation. Although many other dynamics were of course operative, interpretations of her wish to recreate the lost pleasures were most helpful.

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