Our sense of identity begins (our psychological birth sometime in the first year of life) with the feeling that we are the centre of the universe, protected by godlike benevolent parents who will enable us to live happily ever after. This is the "Promise" that is never given up, lurking in the unconscious part of our minds. We must learn, reluctantly, that our parents are unable to protect us from the passage of time, from decline, and from death. Yet we retain, even as adults, the delusion that, while others may die, we never will. This adds fuel to the murderous anger we are born with and must master, alongside the contradictory vertical split in the mind that we are destined to die. The "Promise" is described in patients and in examples from biography and fiction in relation to anniversaries and specific holidays. The book ends with a specific illustration in relation to an eight-month-old infant.
ABOUT THE AUTHORPREFACEINTRODUCTIONPART I: CLINICAL AND LITERARY STUDIES CHAPTER ONE Promise, change, and trauma CHAPTER TWO On the trauma of seeing mother's genitals CHAPTER THREE Chronic trauma and soul murder: literary and clinical examples CHAPTER FOUR Haunting and parricide CHAPTER FIVE Virginia Woolf haunted CHAPTER SIX Rage as a fact of life (or, Who is in Charge of Time and Space?) CHAPTER SEVEN Killing (or not killing) the king CHAPTER EIGHT Vladimir Nabokov: murderous impulses displaced onto Freud and literary rivals-and sublimated in relation to butterflies and chessPART II: YEARLY REPETITIONS EVOKING THE BOOK'S TITLE CHAPTER NINE The psychological effect of birthdays and anniversaries CHAPTER TEN Jewish holidays: Chanukah, Purim, Passover, Rosh Hashana, and Yom Kippur CHAPTER ELEVEN Christian holidays: Christmas, New Year's Day, Lent, and Easter CHAPTER TWELVE Secular holidays: Thanksgiving, St. Valentine's Day, Memorial Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and the Fourth of July CHAPTER THIRTEEN Holiday from psychoanalysis: as August approachesPART III: THE PROMISE OF EVERYTHING CHAPTER FOURTEEN Being both sexes-addendum: a clinical observation on anal sexuality CHAPTER FIFTEEN Stella-the infant as the centre of the universeREFERENCESINDEX