Haunted by Parents

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9780300116106: Haunted by Parents

In this book the eminent psychoanalyst Leonard Shengold looks at why some people are resistant to change, even when it seems to promise a change for the better. Drawing on a lifetime of clinical experience as well as wide readings of world literature, Shengold shows how early childhood relationships with parents can lead to a powerful conviction that change means loss. 
Dr. Shengold, who is well known for his work on the lasting effects of childhood trauma and child abuse in such seminal books as Soul Murder and Soul Murder Revisited, continues his exploration into the consequences of early psychological injury and loss. In the examples of his patients and in the lives and work of such figures as Edna St. Vincent Millay, William Wordsworth, and Henrik Ibsen, Shengold looks at the different ways in which unconscious impressions connected with early experiences and fantasies about parents are integrated into individual lives. He shows the difficulties he’s encountered with his patients in raising these memories to the conscious level where they can be known and owned; and he also shows, in his survey of literary figures, how these memories can become part of the creative process.  
Haunted by Parents offers a deeply humane reflection on the values and limitations of therapy, on memory and the lingering effects of the past, and on the possibility of recognizing the promise of the future.

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About the Author:

Leonard Shengold, M.D., is a training analyst at New York University Psychoanalytic Institute and clinical professor of psychiatry, New York University Medical School. He lives in New York City.

From Publishers Weekly:

Distinguished psychoanalyst Shengold (Soul Murder) explores the "importance of early parenting as a source of health and of pathology," drawing on his own work with patients and on the lives of Wordsworth, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Leonard Woolf and Henrik Ibsen, among other literary luminaries. Shengold focuses specifically on the issue of resistance to change, or what he terms "clinging to beginnings," which, he argues, stems from powerful psychic ties to parents—what he calls "haunting." Beginning with a fascinating essay on how Dr. Benjamin Spock's tyrannically eccentric mother shaped the future child care expert, Shengold explores artistic representations of the mindof the child and of nature as a marker of time. He continues with the homily "change means loss" and describes how motifs of the passing seasons and of gardens—in writing and in dreams—can operate as expressive metaphors for feelings about expectation, change and nurturing in relation to powerful childhood experiences. Notably absorbing chapters focus on Edna St. Vincent Millay's complicated relationship to her parents and on the childhood sources of Leonard Woolf's unusually "maternal," nurturing marriage to Virginia Woolf. Shengold's self-avowedly meandering style may frustrate some, but patient readers with a strong interest in the impact of childhood loss and abuse, and in the possibilities of metaphor, will find ample subtly suggestive food for thought. (Jan.)
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