Reyes and Alejandro Reyes: Internal Homelessness, the Aftermath of Traumatic
this paper we look at how or in what way people may feel that traumatic
events have taken away their sense of identity, of belonging and of safety.
We explore how this manifests itself in the clinical material, dreams
and unconscious phantasies.
look at how or why traumatised persons attach themselves, either in thought
or reality, to a class (Matte Blanco, 1975 and 1988) or group, e.g. refugee,
torture victim; and whether this class identity would provide relief by
replacing their lost internal sense of safety and belonging. On the other
hand class identity could serve to perpetuate the dilution of the self
and the feelings attached to the trauma.
The individual searches for a class or category, e.g. Latin-American refugees group, as if following a fragment represented by the class, in a vain attempt to find containment, which the class cannot perform, as it only has a containing but not a processing function. The person looks for a collective idiom in the class or group, especially when the traumatic event still feels too close in time. The group may outwardly seem to provide a containing function where a private feeling of uprooting is compensated by a public belonging, but it may also facilitate forgetting due to the anaesthetic quality of special groups.
A class is defined by a characteristic a number of people have in common, e.g. Tortured Latin-American women or Lockerbie group for relatives or victims of mid-air accidents. The person in its search for relief losses his or her individual characteristics and specific history, while the lost object is unique to the loser.
The state of mind of internal homelessness will be illustrated with clinical material from the therapeutic work we have undertaken for several years with a young refugee Latin-American woman, who survived torture through the defensive device of complex sadomasochistic phantasies. We will also describe how this woman, after having had a child, could be helped to become more vigilant so as not to project her trauma unto him.
A further clinical example will be provided by Paulina Reyes from the psychotherapy with a young woman daughter of refugees whose father had been tortured. It will serve to look at inter generational trauma as well.
Paulina Reyes, BSc Hons, MACP Dr. Alejandro Reyes M.D.
|last modified: 2003-01-20|