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A Ghost in Contemporary Theory: Selma Fraiberg’s Social Work Identity and Her Contributions to Modern Psychoanalysis

  • Leslie CumminsEmail author
Original Paper
  • 9 Downloads

Abstract

Re-examining the work of Selma Fraiberg, an early psychoanalytic social worker, reveals the prediction of two dominant strains in contemporary psychoanalysis: attachment theory and the study of trauma. On the hundredth anniversary of her birth, reading her papers is a reminder of clinical social work’s natural partnering with psychoanalysis. As American psychoanalysis has moved away from its primary focus on intrapsychic conflict toward relational models, it has incorporated the sine qua non of clinical social work: the person-in-environment. Fraiberg’s original identity as a social worker strongly informed her research, casework, writing, and approach to education, and forecast current strains in American psychoanalysis. Reclaiming Fraiberg’s unique contribution should cement both her rightful place as a psychoanalytic pioneer and as an originator of clinical social work identity, as well as the influence of clinical social work on American psychoanalysis.

Keywords

Attachment Trauma Selma Fraiberg Clinical social work identity Social work education Psychoanalysis Casework 

Notes

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New YorkUSA
  2. 2.NYU Silver School of Social WorkNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Psychoanalytic Education Affiliated with NYU School of Medicine; Downstate Medical Center Department of PsychiatryBrooklynUSA

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