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I've been reading some text from Winnicott and Ogden about "The Fear of Breakdown" and the unlived life.

Ogden, T. H. (2016) wrote this about Winnicott's previous work in Reclaiming unlived life: experiences in psychoanalysis;

So, the past event that occurred, but was not experienced, continues to torment the patient until it is lived in the present (with the mother/analyst). And yet, despite the beauty of Winnicott’s response to the question he poses, I find his answer incomplete. It seems to me that a principal, if not the principal motivation for an individual who has not experienced important parts of what happened in his early life is the urgent need to lay claim to those lost parts of himself, to finally complete himself by encompassing within him-self as much of his unlived (unexperienced) life as he is able. I read this as a universal need – the need on the part of every person to re-claim, or claim for the first time, what he has lost of himself and, in so doing, take the opportunity to become the person he still holds the potential to be. One does so despite the fact that attempting to realize that potential to become more fully oneself involves experiencing the pain (of breakdown and the primitive agony that results from breakdown), which had been too much to bear in infancy and childhood and has led to the loss of important aspects of self

My question is, does this mean the person actually unconciously wants to repeat the feeling they had during the childhood trauma?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to psych.SE. Please note that psychoanalysis in general is outdated, and largely considered pseudoscience. As such, I would prefer to have this question closed as off-topic, as it is not about science. However, others on this forum may feel differently. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Jan 8, 2023 at 17:36
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    $\begingroup$ There's no science or way to answer this question objectively. You're just asking about someone's opinion, and that idea that people can just write down what's on their mind and call it knowledge is outdated. Now, we expect people to provide actual evidence of their theories. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 8, 2023 at 18:05
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    $\begingroup$ Bryan, Winnicott and Ogden seem to be some of the the most respected psychoanalysts in recent history. The evidence of their theories is pretty much evident online. Meanwhile, why do you specifically have a problem with their ideas? $\endgroup$
    – Joe
    Jan 8, 2023 at 19:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Joe Except psychoanalysis is not grounded in science, so being a respected psychoanalyst is like being a respected fortune teller. It's just based on someone saying "hmm, I think this is how it works" and writing it down in a book. That kind of approach was fine back in Plato's day, but it's archaic today. That doesn't mean psychoanalysis isn't influential or that therapy based on psychoanalysis can't be effective. Most pharmacological interventions for mental health aren't understood mechanistically, either. But it means it's not a great way to figure out how brains/psychology work. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 8, 2023 at 21:30
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    $\begingroup$ Peter Medawar once described psychoanalysis as a "combination of conceptual barrenness with an enormous facility in explanation". $\endgroup$ Jan 18 at 9:56

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Your question was

does this mean the person actually unconciously wants to repeat the feeling they had during the childhood trauma?

The answer to your question lies in the heart of my answer to Is post-traumatic stress disorder preventable? where complete memories of our past are needed for our sense of identity.

In the text you are quoting, lived memories are memories which are fully examined and assimilated, and reliving is going over those memories, re-examining them, maybe through a metaphorical court, and reassimilating them.

In the quote from Donovan (2010) I provided, it said;

Our memory preserves us and who we are and where we have been, furnishes our sense of self, and is a combination of happy moments and shameful acts.To be ourselves we cannot abandon or forget who we once were: “To alter or numb our remembrance of things past cuts to the heart of what it means to remember in a human way“.

When you have repressed memories, maybe through some level of dissociation, there are aspects of your past which are not fully examined and assimilated. This will affect aspects of your identity. Who are you? How and why do you know? (How did you become who you are?)

When you dissociate from an experience, you will still have the experience, but you won't have lived the experience until you acknowledge it, examine it and assimilate it.

So, from the start of your quote,

the past event that occurred, but was not experienced [not fully assimilated], continues to torment the patient until it is lived in the present (with the mother/analyst) [and fully addressed].

After further evaluation, he pointed out that,

I read this as a universal need – the need on the part of every person to re-claim, or claim for the first time, what he has lost of himself and, in so doing, take the opportunity to become the person he still holds the potential to be. One does so despite the fact that attempting to realize that potential to become more fully oneself involves experiencing the pain (of breakdown and the primitive agony that results from breakdown), which had been too much to bear in infancy and childhood and has led to the loss of important aspects of self

References

Donovan, E. (2010). Propranolol use in the prevention and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder in military veterans: forgetting therapy revisited. Perspectives in biology and medicine, 53(1), 61-74. DOI: 10.1353/pbm.0.0140 PMID: 20173296

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    $\begingroup$ "When you have repressed memories, maybe through some level of dissociation, there are aspects of your past which are not fully examined and assimilated" - is there strong scientific evidence that "repressed memories" are a real thing, as opposed to therapy based on theories of repressed memory being a way to create false memories through suggestion and reencoding? $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 9, 2023 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause - We do not yet have the tools for reliably read "encoded" memories let alone "reencoded" ones, as I'm sure you know psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/0735-7028.27.5.429 I also acknowledged the false memory syndrome debate at psychology.stackexchange.com/a/15788/7604 But interestingly it is demonstrated that research has shown that about 30% of tested subjects formed false memories of autobiographical experiences doi.org/10.1080/09658211.2020.1870699 Look past the bias of accentuating the negative, that means 70% did not. 2.5x those who did. $\endgroup$ Jan 10, 2023 at 7:29
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    $\begingroup$ How is that not horrifying?? 30% of people "remember" something after therapy that they didn't before and that never happened? And this can be a terrible experience? If 30% of people that went to a doctor for joint issues left with a different, previously healthy joint obliterated, do you think we'd let them continue practicing? $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 10, 2023 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause - I am not saying 30% is insignificant. I'm just saying that a much larger proportion had no false memories. The question then lies in how they gained those false memories (if they did). $\endgroup$ Jan 10, 2023 at 20:03
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    $\begingroup$ That is not a good logical approach to treatment strategies. There is no evidence that true repressed memories exist that cannot be explained by other means; there is evidence that treatment strategies that attempt to uncover these repressed memories are effective in creating false memories. No one would ever approve a medical treatment given those contingencies, yet people continue to defend therapy like this. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Jan 10, 2023 at 20:09

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