Working Out Phantoms in Trans-Generational Transmission of Trauma


The concept of Trans-Generational Transmission of Trauma (TTT) is explored through a clinical presentation of a young man in search of a history buried by negation, disavowal, and foreclosure of the ravages of traumatic beginnings of unwelcome children. Transmitted down the generations as phantoms buried in crypts of the psyche, they emerge generations later as holes in the self manifested as a sense of meaninglessness, alienation, and feeling outcast. Historicization of the buried past can bring symbolic representation to phantoms and disperse their influence. Social consequences of unwelcome children are discussed as some may choose violence against others as a solution to their excessive death drive.

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Correspondence to Endre Koritar.

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Endre Koritar, M. D., FRCP(C), FIPA, Assistant Clinical Professor, University of British Columbia; Board of Directors, ISFN, Associate Editor, American Journal of Psychoanalysis; Training and Supervising Analyst, Western Psychoanalytic Society Institute, Vancouver, Canada.

Address correspondence to: Endre Koritar, M.D., 530-999 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1K5, Canada.

*A version of this article was a plenary paper at the International Sándor Ferenczi Conference, Ferenczi in Our Time and a Renaissance of Psychoanalysis, Florence, Italy, May 3–6, 2018.

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Koritar, E. Working Out Phantoms in Trans-Generational Transmission of Trauma. Am J Psychoanal 79, 494–506 (2019).

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  • trans-generational transmission of trauma
  • alien transplants
  • phantoms buried in crypts
  • unwelcome children
  • death drive