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Good, M.I. (2007). Reply to Dr Withers on Traumatic Memories. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 88(6):1552-1553.

(2007). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 88(6):1552-1553

Reply to Dr Withers on Traumatic Memories Related Papers

Michael I. Good

Dear Editors,

The comments of Robert Withers underscore the often complex and vexing nature of memories during analysis. He believes there has been an ‘assumption [concerning] the central importance to analysis of working in the transference/countertransference’ that may be associated with distrust and evasion of the process of recovering memories. These memories might be mistakenly interpreted in terms of something presumably occurring in the transferencecountertransference, as opposed to being heard as corresponding to actual trauma in the patient's history. He further indicates that, as a defensive enactment, this misplaced interpretive emphasis could result in a ‘repetition of a denial of the original abuse.’

Withers's concerns warrant consideration, yet I find that he misconstrues my points. The purpose of my letter (2007) was to highlight how Brown's (2006) case description appears unintentionally to support the idea that screen memories recalled in analysis may wane as part of the working-through process that lessens the defensive role of the screen (Mahon and Battin-Mahon, 1983). Mahon and Battin-Mahon's point is not that ‘a diminishing emphasis on memory in an analysis may be an indicator of therapeutic progress,’ as Withers apparently concludes or believes I imply. Withers evidently views this waning as more accurately representing a mutual disavowal of veridical memory of traumatic experience that occurs because of an unwarranted reliance on the transferencecountertransference—although in Brown's case there is neither an apparent distrust or avoidance of the patient's memories nor an undue or inappropriate focus on the transferencecountertransference.

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