Developmental aspects of trauma and traumatic aspects of development



Abstract: In this paper I try to show that inherent in healthy development are emotional experiences that are the stuff of trauma. Failure to reintegrate these experiences means that they can serve as a resonating board for difficulties in later life, adding to their traumatic impact. Focusing on global changes that occur at the end of the first year, I exemplify these developments with an infant observation and show how a six-year-old boy's failure to integrate them contributed to his experiencing a normal life event as a trauma. I then offer clinical material from the analysis of a man to demonstrate how later life events resonated with early experience associated with this period. All are linked to a complex pattern of object relations I have come across clinically, whereby feelings of grief associated with an idealized object are split off from feelings of grievance against an object experienced as persecutory because of its perceived superior status.