Developmental, Literary and Clinical Realms

Edited by Salman Akhtar MD
Paper: 978 1 78220 015 4 / $42.95
Published: June 2013  

Publisher: Karnac Books
256 pp., 5 3/4" x 9"
Betrayal underlies all psychic trauma, whether sexual abuse or profound neglect, violence or treachery, extramarital affair or embezzlement. When we betray others, we violate their confidence in us. When others betray us, they pierce the veil of our innocent reliance. Betraying and feeling betrayed are ubiquitous to the scenarios of trauma and yet surprisingly neglected as a topic of specific attention by psychoanalysis.

This book fills this gap. Its first part deals with developmental aspects and notes that while the experience of betrayal might be ubiquitous in childhood, its lack of recognition by the parents is what leads to fixation upon it. Attention is also given to Oedipally-indulged and seduced children who feel betrayed later in the course of their development. Feelings of betrayal during early adolescence are also discussed. This section of the book closes with an account of situations where our bodies betray us. The realms of body image betrayal, body self betrayal, and the body’s ultimate betrayal via physical death are addressed.

The second part of the book deals with literature and elucidates the myriad ways in which the theme of betrayal appears in Shakespeare’s writings and in Oscar Wilde’s poem "The Ballad of Reading Gaol". Its final part pertains to clinical matters and has chapters on the compulsion to betray others and the unconscious need to be betrayed, the betrayal of a sacred trust in the form of childhood sexual abuse, extra-marital affairs, and the betrayal of patients by their analysts in the form of boundary violations. In this last-mentioned situation, severe damage occurs not only to the analyst, to the particular patient whose boundaries he has violated, but also to other patients who hear about the transgression from the “grapevine”. This chapter is a must-read for all training institutes and especially their ethics committees.

Table of Contents:

CHAPTER ONE: Betrayal in childhood, Jennifer Bonovitz
CHAPTER TWO: A seduced child is a betrayed child, Ann Smolen
CHAPTER THREE: Betrayal, shifting loyalties, identity, and love in adolescence, Christine C. Kieffer
CHAPTER FOUR: When the body betrays, Mark Moore

CHAPTER FIVE: The theme of betrayal in the works of “William Shakespeare”, Richard M. Waugaman
CHAPTER SIX: Betrayal as the creative force behind Oscar Wilde’s “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”, Eugene J. Mahon

CHAPTER SEVEN: The compulsion to betray and the need to be betrayed, Salman Akhtar
CHAPTER EIGHT: Sexual abuse of children as the betrayal of a sacred trust, Calvin A. Colarusso
CHAPTER NINE: The extramarital affair and the betrayal of a spouse, Elizabeth H. Thomas
CHAPTER TEN: The injured bystander in analytic betrayal, Anne J. Adelman


Reviews & Endorsements:
"Given the prominence in the Western cultural imagination of such victims of betrayal as Oedipus and Jesus, and given Freud's own sense of betrayal by the likes of Adler, Jung, Rank and others, it is surprising that this topic has received so little attention in the psychoanalytic literature. Perhaps the theme of betrayal has been just too close to home. Salman Akhtar's illuminating essay on the compulsion to betray and the need to be betrayed forms the centerpiece of this collection of insightful papers that approach this important topic from developmental, literary and clinical perspectives."
- Donald L. Carveth, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Social & Political Thought, York University; Director , Toronto Institute of Psychoanalysis
"With characteristic poignancy and poeticism, Salman Akhtar and his contributors signify betrayal, mine its phenomenology, decipher its scars, and formulate the fixations and transmissions patterned in its wake. Incisive and broadly humane, these essays lead us to sites of corruption and the particular ways they “pierce the veils of our innocent reliance”. Read this book and wander through the realms of human treachery. Though often disturbing, you will be a better clinician for it."
- Andrea Celenza, PhD, Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard Medical School, Faculty , Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis