The concept of psychical trauma: A bridge in interdisciplinary space1

Authors


  • 1

    Translated by Peter Shaio and Malby Oliver.

Abstract

The concept of trauma currently occupies a central position in interdisciplinary dialogue. Using the concept of psychical trauma as a bridge, the author attempts an interdisciplinary dialogue with psychiatry, biology and neuroscience. Beginning with the concept of psychical trauma in Freud, the author reviews the evolution of Freud's thinking, and links it with the ideas of Ferenczi and post-Freudian psychoanalytical authors. From a different framework, he considers the present state of research on post-traumatic stress disorder in current psychiatric nosography and attempts an interdisciplinary approximation to the concept of psychical trauma. Interesting ideas like the traumatic situation, trauma spectrum and psychopathological spectrum emerge, which enable a better understanding of the concept of psychical trauma through its relatedness, as a bridge connecting a broad psychopathological range extending from normality to psychosis. The ensuing possible relative loss of nosographical rigour is more than compensated by the resulting increased understanding and enlarged therapeutic possibilities. In the second part of the paper, the author attempts a dialogue with neuroscience, taking into account new advances in current research on emotion and memory, and making them compatible with the psychoanalytical concept of trauma. In this sense, the paper underlines the importance of emotion and crucially of memory, regarded as a fundamental axis of the subject explored in this paper. Here a substantial distinction which is pertinent for analytical work appears: declarative memories versus non-declarative or procedural memories. In a concluding discussion the author argues that, taking into account the implications of these current notions regarding a number of theoretical and technical aspects, psychoanalysis currently holds a privileged position, both in its potential for prevention and regarding the treatment of patients, in so far as, through interdisciplinary dialogue, psychoanalysis can be receptive to and be enriched by the contributions of other disciplines, just as it enriches them with its own contributions.

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