Tag Archives: Arabella Kurtz

Owning the feelings of abandonment

I recall a man who suffered childhood trauma, in this case abandonment by a parent, and largely dealt with it by putting the unpalatable experience out of mind. At one level he knew what had happened to him, having fixed upon a story of his life that included the trauma and was coherent, if limited in depth and scope. But he continued to struggle with the trauma as an emotional experience, in terms of its full impact on him and the extent to which it had affected him at different stages of his development. The abandonment had been too much for him to deal with as a child, and the way he found of rising above his experience seemed to work — to do the trick, as it were. It was later down the line that he found himself in the grip of the repetition compulsion, unconsciously and repeatedly trying to repair the internal psychic situation, but unable to do so. He looked everywhere for love and validation, but was unable to find what he was looking for because the feelings of abandonment and neglect from childhood could not be consciously admitted. In short, he did not really know what he was looking for.

Arabella Kurtz, J.M Coetzee, The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy,

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