Daimonic elements in early trauma



Abstract: This paper explores some of the ‘daimonic’ elements of unconscious mentation that emerge both in dreams and in the transference/countertransference field with early-trauma patients and illustrates these with an extended clinical example. An archaic and typical (archetypal) ‘trauma complex’ is articulated (with diagram) as a bi-polar structure consisting of divine child protected and/or persecuted by an inner ‘guardian angel’. Sources of this structure and its mythological inner objects are traced to trauma at the stage of what Winnicott calls ‘unintegration’ and to flooding by dis­integration anxiety at a time before nascent ego-structure has formed.

In an extended case example, the author shows how the patient's traumatized innocence and desire for a new start, thwarted by self-attacking defences, pulls him into playing the inflated role of her guardian angel, leading to re-traumatization in the transference. Working through is seen as the necessary disillusionment and humanization of these daimonic structures as they are projected, suffered, and transmuted by the analytic partners in the stormy process of psychotherapy.