Abjection, identity and the enigmatic message: embodied meanings and social constructions

View author details View Less
  • 1 Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, MA, United States and University of Monterrey (UDEM) School of Psychology, Mexico
Restricted access
Get eTOC alerts
Rights and permissions Cite this article

Identity is built upon the early interactions with caretakers through whom we internalize a felt-sense of what it means to be ourselves, including values and judgments that have been passed along the generations. Psychoanalytic theory and the attachment literature help us to understand some of the more subversive elements of that transmission process, ways in which unprocessed trauma and unresolved mourning provides a vehicle for passing along positive and negative aspects of personal, familial and cultural aspects of identity across the generations. Because that transmission process directly impacts ways in which oppression and marginalization skew meanings for future generations, it is important that we consciously recognize and work with the projective processes as they play out in our children and in ourselves. In this paper, I discuss ways in which projection and unprocessed shame can inhibit the type of active reflection required for ethical behavior and democratic process.

  • Abraham, N. (1975) Notes on the phantom: a complement to Freud’s metapsychology, in N. Abraham and M. Torok (1994) The shell and the kernel, N.T. Rand (ed and trans), Chicago, IL and London: University of Chicago Press, pp 1716.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Abraham, N. and Torok, M. (1994) The shell and the kernel, N.T. Rand (ed and trans), Chicago, IL and London: University of Chicago Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Apprey, M. (1993) The African-American experience: forced migration and the transgenerational trauma, Mind and Human Interaction, 4: 705.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Apprey, M. (2003) Repairing history: reworking transgenerational trauma, in D. Moss (ed) Hating in the first person plural: Psychoanalytic essays on racism, homophobia, misogyny, and terror, New York, NY: Other Press, pp 3–28.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Arendt, H. (2003) Responsibility and judgment, J. Kohn (ed), New York, NY: Schocken Books.

  • Atkinson, J. (2002) Trauma trails, recreating song lines: The transgenerational effects of trauma in Indigenous Australia, North Melbourne, Australia: Spinifex Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Baldwin, J. (1962) Another country, New York, NY: Dial Press.

  • Bion, W.R. (1961) Experiences in groups, and other papers, London: Tavistock Publications.

  • Bion, W.R. (1977) Seven servants, New York, NY: Jason Aronson.

  • Charles, M. (2004) Women and psychotherapy on film: Shades of Scarlett conquering, in J.R. Brandell (ed) Celluloid couches, cinematic clients: Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in the movies, New York, NY: SUNY Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Charles, M. (2014) The intergenerational transmission of trauma: effects on identity development, in N. Tracey (ed) Transgenerational trauma and the Aboriginal preschool child: Healing through intervention, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 13352.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Charles, M. (2015) Psychoanalysis and literature: The stories we live, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, pp 1135.

  • Charles, M. (2016) Ashes of remembrance: reconfiguring the phoenix, Psychoanalytic Review, 103: 4167. doi:

  • Charles, M. (2019) Women and madness in context, in M. Hansen and M. Charles (eds) Women & psychosis: Multidisciplinary perspectives, Lantham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, pp 1135.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davids, M.F. (2011) Internal racism: A psychoanalytic approach to race and difference, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Davoine, F. and Gaudillière, J.-M. (2004) Psychoanalysis and trauma: History beyond trauma: Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one cannot stay silent, S. Fairfield (trans), New York, NY: Other Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dykeman, C. (1993) Encountering the face of the other: the implications of the work of Emmanuel Lévinas for research in education, Journal of Thought, 28(3/4): 515.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Erpenbeck, J. (2017) Go, went, gone, S. Bernofsky (trans), New York, NY: New Directions.

  • Fanon, F. ([1952] 2008) Black skin, white masks, R. Philcox (trans), New York, NY: Grove Press.

  • Fricker, M. (2007) Epistemic injustice: Power and the ethics of knowing, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Hook, D. (2012) A critical psychology of the postcolonial: The mind of Apartheid, New York, NY: Routledge.

  • Jones, A.L. (2015) A psychoanalytic reader’s commentary: on erasure and negation as a barrier to the future, Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 25: 71924. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jones, L. (1966) Home: Social essays, New York, NY: William Morrow and Co.

  • Klein, M. ([1946] 1975) Notes on some schizoid mechanisms, in M. Klein, Envy and gratitude and other works, 1946–1963, London: Hogarth Press, pp 124.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kristeva, J. (1982) Powers of horror: An essay on abjection, L.S. Roudiez (trans), New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

  • Lacan, J. (1974–75) Seminar XII: RSI, C. Gallagher (trans), www.lacaninireland.com/web/published-works/seminars.

  • Lacan, J. (1975–76) Seminar XII: Joyce and the Sinthome, C. Gallagher (trans), www.lacaninireland.com/web/published-works/seminars.

  • Lacan, J. (1977) Of the subject who is supposed to know, of the first dyad and of the good, in J. Lacan, The four fundamental concepts of psycho-analysis, A. Sheridan (trans), New York, NY: W.W. Norton, pp 23043.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lacan, J. (1978) The four fundamental concepts of psycho-analysis, A. Sheridan (trans), New York, NY: W.W. Norton.

  • LaCapra, D. (1999) Trauma, absence, loss, Critical Inquiry, 25: 696727. doi:

  • Laplanche, D. (1995) Seduction, persecution, revelation, International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76: 66382.

  • Laplanche, D. (1997) The theory of seduction and the problem of the other, International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78: 65366.

  • Laplanche, J. (1999a) A short treatise on the unconscious, in J. Laplanche and J. Fletcher, Essays on otherness, L. Thurston (trans), London and New York, NY: Routledge, pp 84116.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Laplanche, J. (1999b) Time and the other, in J. Laplanche and J. Fletcher, Essays on otherness, L. Thurston (trans), London and New York, NY: Routledge, pp 23459.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lévinas, E. (1998) Otherwise than being: Or beyond essence, A. Lingus (trans), Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press.

  • Lévinas, E. (1999) Philosophy and transcendence, in E. Lévinas, Alterity and transcendence, M.B. Smith (trans), New York, NY: Columbia University Press, pp 338.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Matte Blanco, I. (1975) The unconscious as infinite sets: An essay in bi-logic, London: Duckworth.

  • Moten, F. (2008) The case of blackness, Criticism, 50(2): 177218. doi:

  • Stauffer, J. (2015) Ethical loneliness: The injustice of not being heard, New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

  • Vermeylen, S. and Clark, G. (2017) An alternative ethics for research: Lévinas and the unheard voices and unseen faces, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 20(5): 499512. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Volkan, V.D. (2001) Transgenerational transmissions and chosen traumas: an aspect of large-group identity, Group Analysis, 34: 7997. doi:

  • 1 Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, MA, United States and University of Monterrey (UDEM) School of Psychology, Mexico

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 18 18 4
Full Text Views 2 2 1
PDF Downloads 2 2 2

Altmetrics

Dimensions