The Riggs Blog

New Book Review on Lost in Transmission: Studies of Trauma Across Generations

Congratulations to Dr. M. Gerard Fromm for the recent review by Michael Shulman in the October 2013 publication of the Journal of American Psychoanalytic Association. Dr. Shulman gives Lost in Transmission: Studies of Trauma Across Generations, which Dr. Fromm edited, a detailed and very favorable review. 

Dr. Fromm, former director of the Erikson Institute for Education and Research, published the book through Karnac in 2012. The concept, suggested and encouraged by Senior Erikson Scholar, Dr. Vamik Volkan, originated from two Erikson Institute Fall Conferences at Austen Riggs, and explores the effects of transmission of trauma and the ways in which exploring multi-generational trauma with patients can be helpful and liberating to their suffering. The volume is a series of essays organized in three sections, each introduced by Fromm, addressing the issues of traumatic transmission in the context of the holocaust, the consulting room, and contemporary America. Dr. Fromm also contributes two of his own essays to the volume. The book includes papers by Riggs staff members, Barri Belnap and Virginia Demos, along with one by Senior Erikson Scholar Vamik Volkan. The book attempts to address the heritage of trauma – the way that the truly traumatic necessarily and largely unconsciously plays itself out through the next generation - and to do so both from clinical and societal perspectives.  

In his review, Shulman writes “The stories of public figures frame this book: in the introduction, Erik Erikson and his tragic family life, which included a secret son institutionalized with Down’s syndrome; in the conclusion, the young Jane Fonda’s constantly experiencing intimations of death while in the care of a terribly depressed, abused mother who eventually committed suicide. Yet what makes this such a valuable collection for psychoanalysts is that each essay is also clinically relevant, searching, and, without exception, resolutely personal.”

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