The Need to Forget: The Capacity to Remember
Saturday 13 July 2019 - London
With speakers Richard Curen, Dr Ronald Doctor and Katya Orrell
At this seminar we will consider two possible relationships to past traumatic events: remembering, and working-through on the one hand; repressing, disavowal and acting-out on the other, and how the tension between these can be skilfully managed in the therapy relationship.
Memories are core to our accumulating experience of life, providing a sense of an ongoing self and meaningful continuity. They can make us feel comfortable with the familiar, and securely connected to the past, while providing a framework for the future; it is our collection of conscious and unconscious memories that, in part, makes us who we are.READ MORE...
But what is the experience of a client/patient, who by repressing, splitting off or disavowing past events which are too painful to bring into consciousness?
What is the cost of that repression? What strains are placed on the embodied psyche by such efforts to block-out reality? How do we enable someone to loosen their defenses and safely allow unacceptable past events to surface into conscious awareness?
This conference will consider how a client/patient who acts-out the past – perhaps even violently – may be acting on an impulse to avoid remembering, and how this person may be caught in painful repetitions of events or somatisation of affects in order to control the unbearable. We will consider whether there is always a need to make the repressed memory come to consciousness and, if there is, how is this process managed safely to contain that which has been unbearable? How does the therapist work most effectively here? What is the role of thinking and language in this process? How is the counter transference experienced? Through talks and live supervisions participants will get first hand insight into this delicate and challenging work.
Registration and coffee
Dr Ronald Doctor
Forensic Patients: Acting out as a resistance to repressed memories
In Remembering, Repeating and Working Through (Freud 1914), acting-out is defined in opposition to remembering, as a compelling and urgent need to repeat the forgotten past, not only reliving the emotional experiences transferred to the analyst, but transferring the entire scope of the situation to the present. The patient does not remember anything of what has been forgotten and repressed, but acts it out instead without, of course, knowing that this is a repetition. Acting-out is understood as replacing the desire to remember, as a function of resistance; the greater the resistance, the more extensive the acting out will be. Therapeutic work will be considered.
Tabula rasa: The attempt to forget what cannot be remembered
Using the Belgian television series ‘Tabula Rasa’ and the phrase “why can’t I forget what I can’t remember” (Hale 2015), Katya will explore how destructive aggression becomes the forensic patient’s method of not remembering something too overwhelming to face. If what they are attempting to forget is too painful to remember and is acted-out instead, then it is the task of the therapist to help the patient remember. Through Freud and Winnicott’s concepts of repetition compulsion and fear of breakdown, she will look at how this happens both individually and on a societal level when we unwittingly collude with the patient’s mindset through our criminal justice system.
Mind the gap: Repressed memories and perverse solutions for the forensic patient
This presentation will explore a number of interventions with forensic patients who appear to employ perverse solutions as a means to avoid the realisation of repressed memories. Using clinical material, Richard will illustrate how some forensic patient’s repressed memories are at the roots of their psychopathology and offending behaviours. The talk will draw on psychoanalytic theories around repression, dissociation and perversion to demonstrate the analysis of perverse enactments, both inside and outside the consulting room.
Participants are invited to bring cases for our speakers’ consideration
- Dr Ronald Doctor
- Katya Orrell
- Richard Curen
Panel discussion bringing together live supervision experiences