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Am J Psychoanal. 2009 Dec;69(4):279-90. doi: 10.1057/ajp.2009.19.

The self in pain: the paradox of memory. The paradox of testimony.

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New York University, Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, New York City, NY, USA.


Using the 7-year psychotherapy of a Holocaust survivor, this paper explores the sometimes contradictory aspects of approaches to trauma. Conceptualizing a "self in pain" as an alternative to contemporary conceptualizations of the traumatized person as having a damaged, dissociated or collapsed self leads to a corresponding alternative clinical approach. The paradoxes of traumatic memory and testimony necessitate an adaptational emphasis and the emergence of a "doubled" in contrast to a dissociated self. The decision to respect this "doubled" self involves a privileging of "reality" over "psychic reality" which then, paradoxically enables this patient to develop a phantasy life.

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