International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Love Heals Memory (But Reversed Attachment Generates Distorted Memories of Parental Love)
Andreja Poljanec, Ph.D, MFT therapist; Katarina Kompan Erzar, Ph.D, MFT therapist

Memory is more than what we can consciously recall about events from the past, says Daniel Siegel in his work The developing mind, where he defines memory as »the way past events affect future function« (1999). Since memory is a function of the brain that develops out of interpersonal relationships and repeated patterns of children's interactions with their caregivers, past experiences become »remembered« in various modalities of memory and affect? They directly shape not just what children recall, but how the representational processes develop, which help to organize affective experience and form expectations of relationships. Research revealed that implicit elements of memory influence the structure of autobiographical narratives, which have been found to differ dramatically across the various attachment patterns (Main & Hesse, 1999). Thus, securely attached individuals usually view their relationships positively and experience intimacy as a self-enhancing process which includes concern and empathy for other. On the contrary, people who have never experienced safety in childhood have extremely negative expectations of relationships and view intimacy as strange or even dangerous undertaking. In healing the pain and distortion of traumatic memory secure attachment relationship with the therapist is a prerequisite. However, the effects of this security may take time to develop and influence other relationships, because traumatic memories and affects cannot simply be extracted from distorted attachment patterns. The main goal of our presentation is to illustrate how one secure, safe relationship can trigger not only the intrapsychic process of change and reintegration of traumatic memories, but also change in repetitive patterns of intergenerational transmission of insecure bonding and change in parental marital relationship. To illustrate these processes, we will trace a complex story of a family which started to unfold in the therapist's office when a first secure woman to woman relationship was formed. In the ensuing process the young and the old generation started to reveal and cure the previously unnoticed and disregulated affects of denied and »forgotten« abuse and violence.

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