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No Words To Say It: Trauma And Its Aftermath*

“The growth of insight depends, at its inception, on undisturbed functioning of projective identification.”

Bion (1965, p. 36)


Trauma survivors suffer from unmediated access to primal undifferentiated positions of the psyche. This access, unmediated by symbolic representation, but represented in the body, disrupts the normal trajectory of development and of relationship. Survivors have no words to communicate this experience. Without words, trauma torments them, because it cannot be borne, grieved, and released. Without access to the usual defenses against unpleasant feelings and ideas, survivors are left isolated and confused, unable to enjoy their lives. These primal states are an aftermath of trauma resistant to treatment because they are outside the symbolic positions of the mind. A clinical example is used to demonstrate the loss of language during breakdown and the function action serves in analytic sessions.

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Correspondence to Judy K. Eekhoff.

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Eekhoff, J.K. No Words To Say It: Trauma And Its Aftermath*. Am J Psychoanal 81, 186–206 (2021).

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  • black hole
  • primal position
  • secondary trauma
  • somatic order
  • unrepresented states