Terrified by suffering, tormented by pain*

We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full

Marcel Proust

Abstract

Ferenczi’s understanding of the primitive defenses required to cope with trauma, such as introjection, identification with the aggressor, atomization and reckoning, supports the author’s clinical observations of patients who introject a pain mother. Introjecting a pain mother assures that the terrorism of the original external event of a suffering mother keeps the internal suffering going, resulting in being tormented by pain. Such an introjection creates technical difficulties for the analyst. A clinical case is presented to demonstrate.

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Correspondence to Judy K. Eekhoff.

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Address correspondence to Judy K. Eekhoff, Ph.D., Seattle, WA 98144, USA.

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Eekhoff, J.K. Terrified by suffering, tormented by pain*. Am J Psychoanal 78, 361–369 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1057/s11231-018-9156-3

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Keywords

  • projection
  • introjection
  • identification
  • atomization
  • reckoning
  • pain mother