The purpose of my new book is to apply a psychoanalytic way of thinking to the topic of trauma. I will examine the conceptualization, definition and labelling of psychological trauma across generations, communities, groups and nations in order to search for a more radical understanding of how trauma occurs, how best to differentiate it from other emotions and feelings of crisis and whether it is necessary to characterize the first trauma as a natural transition in organic or biological development. The emphasis of the work will be trauma as it manifests from the unconscious into a full-blown crisis marking a threshold for transformation, whereby the discovery of repressed emotions are let loose in an existential experience prior to recovery. I will call this recovery a reflexive re-birthing. Or to put it differently, a traumatic experience viewed as a sublimation brought about by the liberation of infantile libido fixations and the ultimate separation from the mother. I will contend that the re-birthing fantasy occurs regularly in thoughts, ideas, dreams and parapraxes (slips of the tongue) and gives rise to a general neurosis, which in turn can become fixed on an object (person, compulsion, other), thus duplicating the individual’s separation from the primal life giver, otherwise manifest in a typical ongoing primal fantasy.
How does trauma revisit its subject? Consider the state of lucid dreaming where the mind wanders into an abyss, perhaps the individual visualizes a dark room with a door slightly open, but not yet open wide enough to push through. Imagine the attempts to push through the door. Perhaps this vision is accompanied by other hallucinations, a staircase that appears to go nowhere, but which begs further investigation. Perhaps it is an elevator in a tall building. You see yourself entering the elevator, pushing the button for the top floor and counting the floors as the journey begins. The elevator reaches its destination, but when you step out of the stationary compartment there is only thin air. There is no floor, no building, only empty space. You feel panic and perhaps the lucid dreaming comes to an end. You then ask, what is this dream about? What I am envisaging is an absence of mind, a dreamy state that is also an interruption to the physical, mental and spiritual balance; a no-person’s land, perhaps an empty universe that renders acute and inexplicable anxiety. This kind of trauma appears to have no basis in reality, but nevertheless it is painful and unnerving in every respect. Everyone experiences these states, but not everyone remembers them. Repressed trauma is almost a given and different cultures and beliefs have resulted in different approaches and explanations for this hypnotic, trance-like state. Trauma comes from the unconscious. Yet, in this age trauma must be considered tactile before it is thought to be real, but there is nothing tactile about the unconscious, aside from its role in the construction and storing of memories, most of which are rarely revealed without intense personal scrutiny.