1st Edition

Trauma and the Supernatural in Psychotherapy Working with the Curse Position in Clinical Practice

By Alex Monk Copyright 2023
    180 Pages
    by Routledge

    180 Pages
    by Routledge

    Trauma and the Supernatural in Psychotherapy explores how traumatic experience interacts with unconscious phantasy based in folklore, the supernatural, and the occult.

    Drawing upon psychoanalysis, anthropology, the arts, and esoteric philosophy, Alex Monk presents examples from folklore and literature to enrich his case illustrations which offer therapists important clinical perspectives on ways of working with clients who feel cursed and repeatedly manifest self-sabotaging states. The book examines the challenges that can arise when working with this client population and illustrates how to work through them while navigating potent transferences and projective identifications. Monk illustrates the way in which clients with developmental trauma may experience the supernatural and its psychic representatives as persecutory and/or a source of empowerment and healing. Trauma and the Supernatural in Psychotherapy also considers the historically conflicted relationship between psychoanalysis and the supernatural and proposes treatment perspectives which are not implicitly dependent upon a materialist paradigm.

    This book will be of great interest to psychotherapists and counsellors who have an interest in clinical work concerning the connection of relational trauma to unconscious forms of communication and uncanny phenomena arising between therapist and client.


    1 Magic and the Supernatural: The Historical Context for the Curse Position

    2 Mythopoetic Hysteria: The Fin de Siècle

    3 The Curse Position (1): Unconscious Phantasy

    4 The Curse Position (2): The Uncanny

    5 The Ancestral Curse

    6 Imposters of Love: Introjection and Identification

    7 Redemption & Conditionality: Fairbairn and Relational Trauma

    8 The Devil’s Culpa: Shame, Guilt, & Evil

    9 The Evil Eye & Limited Good

    10 An Alien Seed: Fear and Desire in Psychotherapy



    Alex Monk is an integrative arts psychotherapist and musician based in London, UK. He has a private practice in East London. He has a particular interest in psychoanalysis; the arts; and the weird, uncanny, and magical.

    "Alex Monk has written a monograph of great urgency and importance, both for the subtlety of its argumentation and its sensitivity to neglected aspects of psychic life. Modernity can no longer pretend that magical consciousness is an artifact of the past, and Monk’s work triumphs in recommending the integration, rather than the denial, of the weirdness that will not go away." J. F. Martel, author of Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice and co-host of the Weird Studies Podcast 

    "The curse is a powerful image evoking the inexorable workings of an unseen force that works against us, thwarts our efforts, and condemns us to suffering and struggle. It’s a fascinating lens through which to explore clinical work with those individuals who seem perpetually dogged by the dark forces in their own unconscious. This volume artfully ties the age-old, archetypal language of the curse to psychoanalytic thought, providing a unique perspective that brings additional insights to familiar clinical issues." —Lisa Marchiano, Jungian analyst and author of Motherhood: Facing and Finding Yourself

    "Alex Monk’s comparative approach is a much welcome development in psychoanalysis. His psychoanalytic perspective on the 'evil eye' phenomenon illustrates the importance of locating clinical work within cross-cultural contexts that also attend to multiple social factors such as economics and class. Monk’s clinical presentations are especially compelling as he reflects upon the impact his patients have on him." —Marsha Aileen Hewitt, University of Toronto, author of Freud on Religion and Legacies of the Occult: Psychoanalysis, Religion, and Unconscious Communication