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Tracey, N. (2007). From Oblivion to Being: Faith and Catastrophe. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(2):213-244.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(2):213-244

From Oblivion to Being: Faith and Catastrophe

Norma Tracey

What processes take place as we move from oblivion to becoming, as we traverse from nothing to something? How do these processes create, impede, or destroy psychic birth? Thinking about these awesome questions opens up some exciting areas: Meister Eckhart (1981), Heidegger (1982), Nietzsche (1968), Derrida (1985, Caputo (1987), Bion (1977), and, a contemporary, Eigen (1993a, 1993b, 1996), inform my thinking. In the earliest of all psychic events I want to use a particular state of mind, which I call paradox, to look at the mother with her infant in this very beginning of her infant's psychic birth as a person, and her psychic birth as mother to that infant. At this point I want to acknowledge the fundamental meaning of the father in the psyche, but I want to use just these two, mother and infant, to create a paradigm of what is repeated over and over in our therapeutic work with our patients.

Faith is at the center of all that I address in this paper. What is the role of “the other,” the mother, in faith? The mother is the “holder of the faith” the father is the “protector of the faith.” If she loses the faith, then she does not hold her infant in a way that allows the infant to remain in the suffering of the catastrophe. Her faith is not a belief in a good outcome, as indeed we see many mothers holding the faith with their infants who they know will die. Survival is not even a consideration. True faith sustains and holds regardless. This is perhaps the earliest idea of a container.

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