Reliving the Past or Creating the Future

  • Eugene M. Abroms
Part of the Critical Issues in Psychiatry book series (CIPS)


Beyond symptom control, the major purpose of an intensive psychotherapy is to stop blindly reliving a destructive past; otherwise, there is no opportunity to create a productive future. The legacy of a traumatic early life is what all sufferers of major personality disorders have in common. Typically, they have all had a significant loss, devastating abuse, or narcissistic injury that threw them into a state of intolerable grief. For some, this overwhelming grief could be managed only by splitting off the suffering part of the personality from consciousness in order to numb the pain. It is this split-off, hurt, and angry self that forms the nucleus of internal saboteurs, which rob individuals of success in life by sabotaging their most cherished conscious plans.


Personality Disorder Therapeutic Alliance Woman Therapist Love Relationship Traumatic Early Life 
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    S. Freud, “Beyond the Pleasure Principle,” in Standard Edition, vol. 18, p. 22.Google Scholar
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    W. R. D. Fairbairn, Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1952; J. Masterson, The Search for the Real Self, New York: Free Press, 1988. Also see P. G. Vorhaus, “Spotting and Stopping the ‘Inner Saboteur,’” Psychoanalytic Review 53:127-136, 1966.Google Scholar
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    F. Alexander and T. M. French, Psychoanalytic Therapy, New York: Ronald Press, 1946. Also see F. Alexander, Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, New York: W. W. Norton, 1956.Google Scholar
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    H. Kohut, The Analysis of the Self, New York: International Universities Press, 1971.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eugene M. Abroms
    • 1
  1. 1.Private PracticeArdmoreUSA

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