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Koch, E. (2000). Representations of Dread: The Dreaded Self and the Dreaded State of the Self. Psychoanal Q., 69(2):289-316.

(2000). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 69(2):289-316

Representations of Dread: The Dreaded Self and the Dreaded State of the Self

Ehud Koch, Ph.D.

The experience of dread, an extreme form of fear that is induced by terror and horror, is seen as manifested in the shapes of a “dreaded self” and a “dreaded state of the self.” These representations reflect psychic dangers ranging from a common, feared identification to states of disconnection, desolation, ego dissolution, and nonexistence. It is suggested that life crises and traumatic impingements, informed by developmental and psychic realities, are critical determinants of multiple dreaded self-representations; that disavowal often serves to massively ward off the recognition of the awful; and that these representations serve a preconscious signal function that anticipates the danger of reexperiencing an original terror. Case examples illustrate these points and reflect the utility of the language of dreaded representations in the treatment situation.

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