Witnessing across Time: Accessing the Present from the Past and The Past from the Present

  title={Witnessing across Time: Accessing the Present from the Past and The Past from the Present},
  author={Donnel B. Stern},
  journal={The Psychoanalytic Quarterly},
  pages={53 - 81}
  • D. Stern
  • Published 1 January 2012
  • Psychology
  • The Psychoanalytic Quarterly
We are used to the idea that trauma in the past interrupts our capacity to grasp the present. But present or recent trauma can have a similar dissociative effect on our capacity to experience the more distant past. Contemporary trauma can rob the past of its goodness, leaving one feeling as if the past is gone, dead, separated from the present. The vitalization of the present by the past or the past by the present requires that experiences be linked across time. These links are created, in both… 

Psychoanalysis in Trauma: On Trauma and Its Traumatic History in Psychoanalysis

This paper focuses on trauma, particularly the history of trauma in psychoanalysis—a highly traumatic history. The author suggests, using data unearthed primarily over the past twenty-five years and

The “Voice” of Breakdown: On Facing the Unbearable Traumatic Experience in Psychoanalytic Work

Abstract This article weaves together three major contributions to the theory of trauma and repetition compulsion: Freud's (1920/1955b) reformulation in “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” of his

Unformulated experience, dissociation, and Nachträglichkeit

  • D. Stern
  • Medicine, Psychology
    The Journal of analytical psychology
  • 2017
The second part of the paper presents and explores a point of confluence between the views in Part 1 and certain aspects of French psychoanalysis, with particular reference to the concept of Nachträglichkeit in the work of Jean Laplanche and Haydée Faimberg.

Transitioning Integration: The Case of Regan and the Future of a Paradigm

This article draws on narrative conventions to present a long-term case study involving a person engaged in a relational psychoanalytic treatment for childhood trauma, gender nonconformity, and

Bewitched, Buried, and Bewildered

Abstract This case study recounts the first years of an analysis that began as therapy for depression but rapidly shifted its focus to promoting coconsciousness and cooperation among personalities

The Last of the Unjust: Test case of a screen confession

  • Dana Amir
  • Psychology
    The International journal of psycho-analysis
  • 2020
Analysis of the transcripts of interviews by Claude Lanzmann with Benjamin Murmelstein in the documentary The Last of the Unjust reveals the speaker producing a “screen confession,” an ambiguous text that dissociates between explicit and implicit contents, and while presenting an eloquent and coherent narrative actually rewrites emotional, maybe even factual, history.

Relational Psychoanalysis and the Inner Life: Commentary on Cooper, Corbett, and Seligman

Relational analysts know that their experience feels private and contemplative during a significant portion of their working hours. A consideration of the inner life, both the analyst’s and the

The Use of Emotional Metaphors as an Index for Recovery Among Individuals with Acquired Brain Injury

ion within the pervasive effects of trauma. The approach taken in this study is somewhat bottom-up as it examines the overall emotional charge conveyed through metaphor according to a thorough

Relational Freedom and Therapeutic Action

  • D. Stern
  • Psychology
    Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association
  • 2013
Whatever the authors can do to make it possible for the analytic relationship to evolve freely, without constraint or constriction, is the best way to encourage the freedom to experience.

The Self of the Field and the Work of Donnel Stern

The Self of the Field and the Work of Donnel Stern Daniel Masler Antioch University Seattle Seattle, WA No study has taken an updated and comprehensive review of Donnel Stern’s writings. An



Shall the Twain Meet? Metaphor, Dissociation, and Cooccurrence

Even when trauma can be remembered, the memory does not infuse the present with vitality or emotionality, as other memories do. To become a vital part of experience, trauma must be linked with other

Performative and enactive features of psychoanalytic witnessing: The transference as the scene of address

  • B. Reis
  • Psychology
    The International journal of psycho-analysis
  • 2009
This paper will attempt to broaden the conception of witnessing in analytic work with traumatized patients by extending the idea to incorporate the patient’s developing and varied capacity for

Failed empathy ― A central theme in the survivor's Holocaust experience

In this article, we concern ourselves with massive traumatic events deliberately inflicted on individuals by fellow human beings. Specifically, we focus on the Holocaust and the fact that massive

When the Third is Dead: Memory, Mourning, and Witnessing in the Aftermath of the Holocaust

  • S. Gerson
  • Psychology
    The International journal of psycho-analysis
  • 2009
This paper explores psychological states and dynamics faced by survivors of genocide and their children in their struggle to sustain life in the midst of unremitting deadliness and re‐examine Freud's theoretical formulations concerning memory and mourning, elaborate André Green’s concept of the ‘Dead Mother’, and introduce more recent work on the concepts of the‘third’ and ‘thirdness’.

Bearing Witness: Across the Barriers in Society and in the Clinic

This article explores witnessing from two different angles: bearing witness as a social process that exposes a disavowed reality of evil and suffering and witnessing as a distinct function of the

Transformations of Desire and Despair Reflections on the Termination Process from a Relational Perpective

This paper revisits the case of “Karen” (“Whose Bad Objects Are We Anyway? Repetition and Our Elusive Love Affair with Evil,” PD 14/6) eight years after the time period described in the earlier

Traumatic Shutdown of Narrative and Symbolization

Abstract Through a detailed clinical vignette and a review of the relevant literature this paper illustrates the failures in narrative formation, symbolization, and even in the process of

Unformulated Experience: From Dissociation to Imagination in Psychoanalysis

In this powerful and wonderfully accessible meditation on psychoanalysis, hermeneutics, and social constructivism, Donnel Stern explores the relationship between two fundamental kinds of experience:

The Eye Sees Itself

Abstract Part I of the paper takes up the question of how it is possible for the analyst to see, experience, or understand the countertransference, which is exactly what her unconscious involvement

The two time vectors of Nachträglichkeit in the development of ego organization: Significance of the concept for the symbolization of nameless traumas and anxieties

  • G. Dahl
  • Psychology
    The International journal of psycho-analysis
  • 2010
The author describes Freud ’s conception of Nachträglichkeit as an active process that bridges the gap between past affective vicissitudes and the cognitive present by way of meaning. Symbolization