Ghislaine Boulanger, PhD
February 7-9, 2020
Ghislaine Boulanger is a psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City and a member of the Relational faculty at New York University's Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. She is on the editorial board of the Division/Review and the International Journal for Applied Psychoanalysis. Topics of particular interest to her include working psychodynamically with immigrants, psychoanalytic politics, and massive psychic trauma. Since the publication of Wounded by Reality: Understanding and Treating Adult Onset Trauma, Dr. Boulanger has taught and published extensively on the psychodynamic dilemmas facing adults who have survived violent and life threatening events, and the clinicians who work with them.
Understanding and Treating Adult Onset Trauma
Psychoanalytic clinicians increasingly find themselves treating patients who have survived life threatening assaults individually or in groups; or witnessed sudden, untimely, and often violent deaths; or learned of the sudden, violent death or disappearance of a loved one. Often this experience has led to profound and long lasting psychological symptoms; the survivor has exchanged the sense of a more or less continuous self or selves, for an unfamiliar mortal self for whom time stands still. She has lost the capacity to experience a range of affects, of senses on which she could rely. Her capacity both to reflect and to relate has been forfeited. Until recently psychoanalysts had few ways of acknowledging these symptoms and incorporating adult onset trauma into their theory and practice, emphasizing instead the consequences of childhood trauma or stressing the importance of psychic reality and overlooking the role of historical reality in the etiology of these disorders. In this course, we shall systematically explore the literature and phenomenology of catastrophic dissociation, drawing distinctions between childhood trauma and adult onset trauma, and consider the clinical consequences of this disorder. Participants will be encouraged to share their own experiences in working with these conditions.
Subjectively and metapsychologically, adult onset trauma requires careful consideration in its own right. If this position is not clearly understood, those who have survived catastrophic trauma in adulthood are in danger of being situated beyond the reach of effective psychoanalytic practice.
Boulanger, Ghislaine (2007) Wounded by Reality: Understanding and Treating Adult Onset Trauma. Routledge, New York & London
Laub, D (2014) A Record That Has Yet to be Made. Part 1 pp 47-63. In Caruth, C., Ed In Listening to Trauma: Conversations with Leaders in the Theory and Treatment of Catastrophic Experiences, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
I am assigning my own 2007 book on adult onset trauma. Paperback copies are currently available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon, and I am attaching a pdf of the Laub interview listed above. Laub and Caruth address many of the themes we shall examine in this class: What is the place of massive psychic trauma in psychoanalytic theory and practice? How do we understand the symptoms, how do we treat them clinically, and what are we asking of ourselves when we are confronted by such horrifying material? Although Laub was renowned for his work with Holocaust survivors, his words apply to survivors of adult onset trauma in general and to the clinicians who work with them. A complete syllabus and reading list will be forwarded by November 19.