Unlaid Ghosts: A Discussion Of Maria Grazia Oldoini’s “Abusive Relations and Traumatic Development: Marginal Notes on a Clinical Case”

by Rodrigo Barahona, PsyaD


Maria Grazia Oldoini’s paper, “Abusive Relations and Traumatic Development: Marginal Notes on A Clinical Case,” is a comprehensive treatise on the effects of trauma on the ability to form a sense of Self where the patients’s entire experience in the world is not unduly oriented towards the satisfaction of the other’s abusive and impinging needs. She postulates the search for a transformational object as the tragic core factor driving the repetitive traumatic enactments characteristic of people like her patient Greta. The author locates this search in the repetition of what she calls a “traumatic holding environment,” which I find to be an intriguing, but problematic, idea. I offer an alternative explanation based on a careful review of Winnicott’s holding concept and Bion’s theory of thinking.

The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 88:2, 277-295, April 2019.

Link to Online Publication [fulltext can be downloaded in, or requested from, the library]

About the Author

Rodrigo Barahona, Psya. D., is a psychoanalyst in private practice in Brookline, Massachusetts. He is a graduate of the Psychoanalytic Institute of New England (PINE), and a faculty member of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. Dr. Barahona is a board member of the Boston Group for Psychoanalytic Studies, and is an editorial associate for the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, and The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. He is a member of the American Psychoanalytic Association and the International Psychoanalytic Association. Dr. Barahona regularly reviews Latin American and Spanish psychoanalytic literature. Click here to check out his other recent publications.

Previous Posts:

Sarah L. Lusk, PhD (2019). A Psychoanalytic Approach to the Complexity of Understanding and Treating Patients with ADHD Beyond Childhood: The Experiences of Two Psychoanalytic Candidates. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 72:1, 61-70.

Anthony D. Bram, PhD, ABAP, FABP (2019). The Subjective Impact of Separation and Divorce on a Latency-Aged Child and His Analysis. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 72:24-32.

Anna Ornstein, MD (2019). Six Million and One: a documentary. In Cinematic Reflections on the Legacy of the Holocaust: Psychoanalytic Perspectives, edited by Diana Diamond and Bruce Sklarew. Routledge, p. 40-50.

Lawrence J. Brown, PhD (2018). Deconstructing Countertransference. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 87(3): 533-555.

Howard M. Katz, MD (2018). Music, Bonding, and Personal Growth: Merle Haggard’s Musical Journey toward Wholeness. Discussion of “A Place to Fall Apart, A Reading of Merle Haggard’s Music” by Richard P. Wheeler. American Imago, 75(3): 441-453.

Sarah Ackerman, PhD (2018). (How) Can We Write about Our Patients? Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 66(1), 59–81.

The Boston Change Process Study Group (2018). Moving Through and Being Moved By: Embodiment in Development and in the Therapeutic Relationship. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 54 (2): 299-321.

Fred Busch, PhD (2018). Searching for the Analyst’s Reveries. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 99(3): 569-589.

Murray M. Schwartz, PhD (2018). Psychoanalysis in My Life: An Intellectual Memoir. American Imago, 75(2), pp. 125-152.

Click here to see a full archive of featured papers. All articles can be requested from the library.