Working with Repetition Compulsion: The re-enactment of unconscious childhood trauma
Saturday 14 September 2019 - London
A one-day seminar with Dr David Celani
The superordinate need of the child is not for pleasure or need gratification, but for an intense relationship with another person… If only painful experiences are provided, the child does not give up looking for pleasurable experiences elsewhere, but seeks pain as a vehicle for interaction with the significant other. It is the contact, not the pleasure which is primary… Painful feelings, self destructive relationships, self-sabotaging situations, are re-created throughout life as vehicles for the perpetuation of early ties to significant others. Mitchell, 1988 (p:27).READ MORE...
One of the most perplexing psychological problems faced by psychotherapists is the apparently normal patient who seeks out one abusive partner after another.
This common phenomenon, an attachment to “bad objects”, is at the very core of the analytic model developed by W.R.D. Fairbairn (1889-1964). Fairbairn recognised that the child is absolutely dependent on their parents for all of their physical and psychological needs.
The child raised in an uncaring family cannot tolerate “knowing” that they are being neglected or abused as this would endanger their emotional attachment to the desperately needed parents. One psychological solution that they have is to dissociate memories of abuse or neglect, thus preserving the attachments and creating a sense of security. Unfortunately, as we will see, such early dissociated interpersonal experiences – quite unknown to the conscious ego – lie dormant, often to resurface with sexual partners in adulthood in the form of dysfunctional relationships.
Fairbairn also noticed that abused children often create unrealistic fantasies about the possibility of future love from their neglectful parents. These imaginings may create a soothing, temporary reality for the child. However, such hopes inevitably co-exist with repressed memories of abuse – memories that can suddenly emerge from the unconscious. We will see how such children may develop two separate centres of agency in their personality, quite unknown to each other: one hurt and enraged and the other full of hope. Painfully, these sub-egos seek out partners who simultaneously hurt and offer the illusion of love. We will consider how psychodynamic psychotherapy can help someone with the deeply challenging task of integrating a full awareness of their childhood reality in order to, at last, become free from repeating it.
This ticket type is for 2 people. Please specify the name of the second attendee where prompted on checkout.
A psychotherapy trainee is someone undertaking a therapy training course of at least 8 hours study per week.