On the edge of representability: memory, narration and oblivion of trauma in the psychotherapy of young victims of abuse and violence

Renzo Di Cori, Ugo Sabatello


On the basis of metapsychological issues on the representation of trauma, this paper investigates how psychoanalysis supports the re-integration of the traumatic event in minors who, as victims of serious forms of violence, see memory as a threat to their defense strategies and are at risk of psychological collapse. What emerges from the experience of the authors is how the most relevant element in psychotherapy for child and adolescent abuse victims is their potential and ability for representation, as well as the intricate connections between external traumatic factors and internal dispositional factors. From a treatment perspective – referring to some of the arguments involved in the debate on changes to the basic model technique according to the internal organization of the patient – the authors suggest a technique that, by respecting the internal time frame of the patient, the fluctuations of transference and psychological functions, alternates between a supporting and an explorative function (especially in cases in which the Ego remains relatively intact) with different patients, or even with the same patient in different phases of therapy. The therapeutic objective is to rebuild a “sense” of an event, which, having broken any logical order, forces the subject into an existential “non-sense”.


Victim of Abuse; Memory; Narration; Psychich Trauma; Psychoterapy

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12869/TM2013-2-02


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