Working the Organizing Experience

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Publisher: Jason Aronson, Inc.

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    Excerpt:

    This book defines, in a clear and compelling manner, the most fundamental and treacherous of transference phenomena: emotional experiences retained from the first few months of life. Hedges takes the position that most negative therapeutic reactions resulting in premature terminations, malpractice suits, and complaints against therapists to licensing boards and ethics committees can be traced to traumas endured in infancy and transferred into the relationship of psychotherapy.

    Hedges introduces the term the organizing experience to chart the course of early trauma to its impact on adult living and the transference situation. He describes the infant’s primary life task as organizing Chanels to the human nurturing environment—first physiological connections to the mother and others. During the organizing experience, inevitable traumas leave memory traces that affect subsequent interpersonal relationships. Even if the infant has the good fortune to be born healthy and into an optimal family environment, he or she must endure intense moments of needing and desiring that are not or cannot be responded to in the exact ways or in the precise time frames the infant needs to maintain a sense of internal harmony and continuity. What then becomes conditioned during the organizing period is a terror and avoidance of certain kinds of interpersonal connections or situations because the infant initially found them traumatizing.

    The central feature of the organizing transference is the way in which each person characteristically disconnects from a potentially over- or under stimulating interpersonal situation. The disconnecting is accomplished through representational memories from infancy of experiences of broken, ruptured, or withered connections to the nurturing environment. When working through the organizing transference the therapist collaborates to develop ways for the patient to remain safely and satisfyingly present in interpersonal relating.

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