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Bach, S. (2001). On Being Forgotten and Forgetting One's Self. Psychoanal Q., 70(4):739-756.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 70(4):739-756

On Being Forgotten and Forgetting One's Self

Sheldon Bach, Ph.D.

This paper assumes that evocative constancy, the ability to evoke reliably good-enough images of self and object in times of stress, underlies not only self and object constancy, but also the development of memory and the symbolic processes. It is suggested that a crucial element in this development is the mother's ability to construct and retain a vivid, cohesive, and reliable memory of her child, and to engage—in a multitude of implicit ways—in a process of mutual holding in memory. Where this process is deficient, the child, and later the adult, may experience discontinuities of the self, which find expression in profound anxieties, phobias, and problems of memory and learning. As these discontinuities are revived in the transference and the countertransference, both patient and analyst must work together to keep each other reliably alive in memory.

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