Haunted by Parents

Haunted by Parents

Leonard Shengold

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780300116106

Publisher: Yale University Press

Abstract

This book examines 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, the book shows how early childhood relationships with parents can lead to a powerful conviction that change means loss. The book continues previous explorations into the consequences of early psychological injury and loss. In the examples of real patients and in the lives and work of such figures as Edna St. Vincent Millay, William Wordsworth, and Henrik Ibsen, it looks at the different ways in which unconscious impressions connected with early experiences and fantasies about parents are integrated into individual lives. The book shows the difficulties that have been encountered with patients in raising these memories to the conscious level where they can be known and owned; and it also shows, in a survey of literary figures, how these memories can become part of the creative process. The book 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.