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Sands, S.H. (2007). Dissociation, the Analyst's Vulnerability, and the Body: Review of Awakening the Dreamer: Clinical Journeys by Philip M. Bromberg. Psychoanal. Dial., 17(5):741-751.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 17(5):741-751

Dissociation, the Analyst's Vulnerability, and the Body: Review of Awakening the Dreamer: Clinical Journeys by Philip M. Bromberg Related Papers

Susan H. Sands

This review praises Bromberg's rich and evocative new book for its clinical and theoretical usefulness and elaborates on three broad themes: the analyst's personal role in traumatic enactments, dissociative/addictive uses of the body, and the distinction between life-threatening and developmental trauma. Extending Bromberg's formulations, the author argues that in successful work with trauma survivors, the analyst must be actually (temporarily) traumatized as actual, personal vulnerabilities of the analyst are necessarily engaged. The analyst's vulnerability serves as an internal contact point, opening up a process of unconscious empathy with the patient and providing crucial validation of the patient's experience. The review also explores how bodily processes are used to further dissociation with eating disordered patients and how they become the source of treatment difficulties. When the patient's states of desire have been “detoured” into the body (where they are ruthlessly controlled or attacked) as well as into the relationship with food (where they are temporarily gratified), they are not as available to be mobilized in the analytic relationship. The review also questions Bromberg's assumption that the underlying dissociative mechanisms are the same for life-threatening trauma (or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) and developmental (or relational) trauma.

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