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From psychic holes to psychic representations

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In this essay, I will explore the term “psychic hole,” and compare it to similar terms from the world of astrophysics and terms used in the psychoanalytic literature. I will then present my own conception of the “psychic hole” in cases of Holocaust survivors' offspring. I will explain how this “hole” is created, and describe a particular aspect of the “psychic hole” that is unique to Holocaust survivors' offspring, namely the enactments (termed “concretization” by Bergman) generated by the negated traumatic themes that reside in it. I will illustrate these enactments using clinical material taken from case studies of Holocaust survivors' offspring that I have previously published. The clinical vignettes reveal the transgenerational impact of the memory hole resulting from negation of survivor parents on the lives of their offspring, up to the third generation. They also show the painful journey from enactments to psychic representations, a journey which exposes the traumatic events that have been denied or repressed, and facilitates the work of mourning and the eventual achievement of a better integrated self. Finally, I will offer technical suggestions for analysts to help patients transform psychic holes into psychic representations.
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Keywords: astrophysics; negation; primitive identification; psychic hole

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 3, 2015

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