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Trumbull, D. (2017). Seeing through the eyes of the perpetrator: A goal-directed function of introjection. Neuropsychoanalysis, 19(2):143-157.

(2017). Neuropsychoanalysis, 19(2):143-157

Seeing through the eyes of the perpetrator: A goal-directed function of introjection

Dianne Trumbull

This paper proposes that introjection experienced as a traumatic presence has a goal-directed function, subcortically mediated with essential cortical participation. Anticipation of further relational trauma activates this post-traumatic process in which the victim remains watchfully engaged, monitoring from the dominant other’s perspective. In consequence, the victim endures a persistent objectifying perspective, a seeing and experiencing from out-there and in consequence, a loss of seeing and experiencing from within. This objectifying perspective emerges from the ontogenetic origins of shame designed to shape compliance with the wishes and needs of more dominant others for the child’s protection, social learning, and guidance. However, this ontogenetic process becomes disintegrating and maladaptive in the context of sustained interpersonal trauma. With sufficient reinforcement, it evolves into an attractor state experienced as a traumatic presence. Emerging information on the role of the cingulate in directing attention and mentalizing is consistent with this conceptualization. A sequence of clinical vignettes is used, not as a case study, but rather as a means to access experiential phenomena that illustrate the origins and evolution of this introjective process.

[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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