Traumatic Ruptures: Abandonment and Betrayal in the Analytic Relationship (Paperback) book cover

Traumatic Ruptures: Abandonment and Betrayal in the Analytic Relationship

Edited by Robin A. Deutsch

© 2014 – Routledge

236 pages

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For much of its history, psychoanalysis has been strangely silent about sudden ruptures in the analytic relationship and their immediate and far-reaching effects for those involved. Such issues of betrayal and abandonment – the death of an analyst, a patient’s suicide, an ethical violation – disrupt the stability and cohesion of the analytic framework and leave indelible marks on both individuals and institutions alike.

In Traumatic Ruptures an international range of contributors present first-person, highly personal and sometimes painful accounts of their experiences and the occasionally difficult yet redeeming lessons they have taken from them. Presented in four parts, the book explores multiple meanings and consequences of the break in the analytic relationship. Part One, Ruptured Subjectivity: Lost and Found, presents accounts of clinical encounters with death. Part Two, Rupture: The Clinical Process,addresses the sudden loss of an analyst, the trauma of patient suicide and the issue of countertransference when working with patients who have suffered the unexpected loss of their first analyst. Part Three, The Long Shadow of Rupture, examines the effects of ethical violations in the short and long term. Finally, Part Four, Ruptures’ Impact on Organizations, looks at the wider impact of ethical and sexual boundary violations in the context of an organization and the effect of trauma on a psychoanalytic institute. By giving voice to issues that are usually silenced, the authors here open the door to understanding the complex nature of traumatic rupture within the analytic field.

This intimate exploration of psychoanalytic treatments and communities is ideal for psychoanalysts, psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatrists and family therapists. It is an important text for clinicians working with individuals who have experienced traumatic ruptures and for members of organisations dealing with their effects.


'As you read through this book, it is sometimes hard to breathe. Words like tsunami, earthquake, shattering, trauma, contamination, contagion, despair, doubt, shame, and guilt permeate the essays, but it is the routine pervasiveness of the traumas described – death of the analyst, sexual exploitation of patients, the misapplication of ideas about patient confidentiality and privacy to institutions and colleagues, our history of secrecy and silencing in training institutions (only two writers name their institutional location) – and how unprepared our institutions are to deal with these that leave the reader sad and shocked. We are reminded of the individual personhood of each analyst and analysand, of the vulnerabiity of each of our patients and each trainee, of the bravery of a few, and of the complicated psychic and social processes involved in institutional and individual shattering and (in luckier cases) witnessing, repair and growth. Traumatic Ruptures is necessary reading for all analysts.' - Nancy J Chodorow, Ph.D. Training and supervising analyst, Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute.

'Traumatic Ruptures is a remarkable book. Robin Deutsch and her colleagues faced the challenge of addressing, both from a theoretical perspective and clinical illustration, some of the most painful situations that are part of the analyst´s life cycle, as well as of analytic institutions; the issues addressed here very seldom appear in the analytic literature, possibly because all of us, as analysts or patients, experienced these painful moments, witnessed them or had to deal with colleagues, patients or institutions that suffered them. This book is extremely welcome, for its candid and courageous reports, for the richness of its examples and for showing once again that psychoanalysis keeps its vitality from facing the pain in its several expressions and for trying to live with and search ways of not denying human suffering and human resilience.' - Cláudio Laks Eizirik, training and supervising analyst, Porto Alegre Psychoanalytic Society, associate professor of Psychiatry, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil former president of the IPA.

'Psychoanalytic writing has long been plagued by a tendency to present things as they ought to be rather than as they are. In the service of promoting psychoanalysis, we have sometimes erred on the side of scotomizing the dark side of the profession. This new volume peels off the mask of self-deception and tells it like it is. Analysts die unexpectedly. Analysts delude themselves into thinking it's OK if they have sex with someone they are treating. Analysts who are bystanders don't know what to do with the fallout from disasters in their midst. I love this book. It should be required reading by all those who choose to spend their lives in Freud's "impossible profession"'- Glen O. Gabbard, MD. Author, Love and Hate in the Analytic Setting.

Table of Contents

Contributors. Foreword by Muriel Dimen. Acknowledgements. 1. Introduction Robin Deutsch. Section 1: Ruptured Subjectivity: Lost and Found. 2. Psychoanalytic Process in the Shadow of Rupture: Clinical Encounters with Death, Dead Mothers, and Deadly Mothers Adrienne Harris. 3. A Voice Lost, A Voice Found: After the Death of the Analyst Robin Deutsch. Section 2: Rupture: The Clinical Process. 4. Abandoned without Warning: Resonance of the Shame of Early Loss When an Analyst Dies Jenny Randles and Frances Thomson-Salo. 5. The Trauma of Patient Suicide Jane Tillman and Anne Carter. 6. On Being the Second Analyst: Two Patients Who Suffered Unexpected Loss of their First Analyst and the Issue of Countertransference Madeleine Bachner. Section 3: The Long Shadow of Rupture. 7. Losing a Training Analyst for Ethical Violations: Short-Term and Long-Term Effects Elizabeth Wallace. 8. Collateral Damage: The Fallout from Analyst Loss due to Ethical Violations Candace Young. 9. A Chorus of Difference: Evolving from Moral Outrage to Complexity and Pluralism Jane Burka. Section 4: Ruptures’ Impact on Organizations. 10. Silencing: When a Community Loses an Analyst to Ethical Violations Kathy Sinsheimer. 11. Trouble in the Family: The Impact of Sexual Boundary Violations in Analytic Institute Life Donna Fromberg. 12. Trauma as a Way of Life in a Psychoanalytic Institute Charles Levin. 13. Saying Goodbye: Traumatic Reverberations in the Subjective Sense of Time Dianne Elise.

About the Editor

Robin A. Deutsch is Member and Faculty of the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, where she currently serves as President of the Center. She maintains a private practice of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and consultation in Oakland, California, and is particularly interested in the development of analytic identity, therapist subjectivity, and the effects of the sudden loss of an analyst.

About the Series

Relational Perspectives Book Series

The Relational Perspectives Book Series (RPBS) publishes books that grow out of or contribute to the relational tradition in contemporary psychoanalysis. The term relational psychoanalysis was first used by Greenberg and Mitchell (1983) to bridge the traditions of interpersonal relations, as developed within interpersonal psychoanalysis and object relations, as developed within contemporary British theory. But, under the seminal work of the late Stephen Mitchell, the term relational psychoanalysis grew and began to accrue to itself many other influences and developments. Various tributaries—interpersonal psychoanalysis, object relations theory, self psychology, empirical infancy research, and elements of contemporary Freudian and Kleinian thought—flow into this tradition, which understands relational configurations between self and others, both real and fantasied, as the primary subject of psychoanalytic investigation.  

We refer to the relational tradition, rather than to a relational school, to highlight that we are identifying a trend, a tendency within contemporary psychoanalysis, not a more formally organized or coherent school or system of beliefs. Our use of the term relational signifies a dimension of theory and practice that has become salient across the wide spectrum of contemporary psychoanalysis. Now under the editorial supervision of Lewis Aron and Adrienne Harris with the assistance of Associate Editors Steven Kuchuck and Eyal Rozmarin, the Relational Perspectives Book Series originated in 1990 under the editorial eye of the late Stephen A. Mitchell. Mitchell was the most prolific and influential of the originators of the relational tradition. He was committed to dialogue among psychoanalysts and he abhorred the authoritarianism that dictated adherence to a rigid set of beliefs or technical restrictions. He championed open discussion, comparative and integrative approaches, and he promoted new voices across the generations.  

Included in the Relational Perspectives Book Series are authors and works that come from within the relational tradition, extend and develop the tradition, as well as works that critique relational approaches or compare and contrast it with alternative points of view. The series includes our most distinguished senior psychoanalysts along with younger contributors who bring fresh vision.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis