Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma Course




Colonialism, apartheid, and war have dominated South Africa for over a century, and the terrible effects of such traumas continue to colour everyday life across the South African population. More and more researchers and clinicians are contributing to the ever-increasing wealth of literature on how the sequelae of individual and collective trauma suffered by one generation are passed on to subsequent generations. becoming more and more aware that the sequelae of trauma suffered This 8-week course is aimed at professionals who would like to deepen their psychoanalytic understanding of the inter – and transgenerational transmission of trauma. We will start by looking at early psychoanalytic ideas of the transmission of trauma from parent to child, and then identify how the subsequent trauma literature, which cohered around the legacies of collective atrocities (such as the Holocaust, Apartheid, Colonialism and Slavery), informs current conceptualizations of trauma transmission. We will study the notion of normative unconscious processes, where unprocessed losses and traumas around non-normative markers of race, class, gender, and sexuality implicate the colonization of the unmentalized into the person’s psyche. We will learn how the unassimilated and the unassimilable lives on in the form of the phantom, protecting secrets that contain abjection, grief, and loss and foreclose mourning. We will turn to pivotal events in past and recent South African history to identify the work of the phantom, before considering how traces of the therapist’s own phantoms structure his or her analytic subjectivity, and are implicated in the psychoanalytic working through of the patient’s transmitted trauma. In addition to those seeking an understanding of the transmission of collective trauma, this course also addresses clinicians interested in the individual transmission of trauma in cases of post-partum depression, and parent-child attachment difficulties.


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