The Shadow of the Tsunami
and the Growth of the Relational Mind
Foreword by Allan N. Schore
Published August 19th 2011 by Routledge – 256 pages
During early development, every human being is exposed to the relative impact of relational trauma – disconfirmation of aspects of oneself as having legitimate existence in the world of others – in shaping both the capacity for spontaneous human relatedness and the relative vulnerability to "adult-onset trauma." To one degree or another, a wave of dysregulated affect – a dissociated "tsunami" – hits the immature mind, and if left relationally unprocessed leaves a fearful shadow that weakens future ability to regulate affect in an interpersonal context and reduces the capacity to trust, sometimes even experience, authentic human discourse.
In his fascinating third book, Philip Bromberg deepens his inquiry into the nature of what is therapeutic about the therapeutic relationship: its capacity to move the psychoanalytic process along a path that, bit by bit, shrinks a patient's vulnerability to the pursuing shadow of affective destabilization while simultaneously increasing intersubjectivity. What takes places along this path does not happen because "this" led to "that," but because the path is its own destination – a joint achievement that underlies what is termed in the subtitle "the growth of the relational mind."
Expanding the self-state perspective of Standing in the Spaces (1998) and Awakening the Dreamer (2006), Bromberg explores what he holds to be the two nonlinear but interlocking rewards of successful treatment – healing and growth. The psychoanalytic relationship is illuminated not as a medium for treating an illness but as an opportunity for two human beings to live together in the affectively enacted shadow of the past, allowing it to be cognitively symbolized by new cocreated experience that is processed by thought and language – freeing the patient's natural capacity to feel trust and joy as part of an enduring regulatory stability that permits life to be lived with creativity, love, interpersonal spontaneity, and a greater sense of meaning.
"Bromberg, a master writer, presents his experience and perspective examining normal pathological dissociation in a most readable manner. His clinical examples are lucid and interesting, demonstrating well his understanding and perspective. He clearly outlines his models of dissociation, emphasizing the importance of activation of what he calls ‘not-me’, self-states of consciousness, both in life and in therapy." –Journal of Analytical Psychology
"Bromberg’s theory of trauma, dissociation and enactment is a valuable contribution to clinical psychoanalysis. Most psychoanalysts, I believe, will find much in this book that expands their understanding of, and ability to work effectively with, all patients, particularly those of whom trauma plays a central part in their mental life." – The International Journal of Psychoanalysis
"In The Shadow of the Tsunami, Philip Bromberg has made it clear why he is widely regarded as the doyen of relational psychoanalysis. He speaks to the process of healing and growth like no one else. His writing comes to life so powerfully that you don't just hear his words but virtually participate in what is taking place between and within each partner. The late Stephen A. Mitchell called his writing 'unique jewels' – how Mitchell would have appreciated this new book! More than ever, Bromberg bridges domains that for others would tend to collide – literature, poetry, theory, neurobiology, infant research, and decades of clinical wisdom. As you read, surprises are in store – clinical surprises, conceptual surprises, transforming surprises. Whether you are brand new to the field or a senior analyst – read it!" - Lewis Aron, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, USA
"The Shadow of the Tsunami is a beautiful book: the reach and depth of its thinking, the vividness of its clinical narrative, enlarge the reader's imagination. At its heart is the daily work of healing which, for Bromberg, is the work of 'collision and negotiation,' of the struggle of patient and analyst to find common ground after experiences of dissociative enactment. Through the intensity of such shared but separate not-me moments, the ability to acknowledge and bear conflict is mutually developed. These richly wrought essays poignantly describe the process of nurturance, healing, and growth, drawing not only on psychoanalytic theory but on music, film, poetry, and fiction – all engagingly deployed to convey the nuances of shifting states of being. In Bromberg's compassionate vision, developmental trauma is part of being human. He endows the concept of 'relational unconscious' not only with clinical persuasiveness but with a resonance that extends beyond the consulting room." - Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, author, The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical Unconscious (2009)
"This is a text to be listened to, just as Bromberg teaches us to listen to our patients: from right-brain to right-brain. Excitingly, the readers's left-brain is equally enlivened because the book integrates clinical psychoanalysis, attachment theory, trauma, research, developmental perspectives, and the latest advances in neurosciences. Bromberg's book will enrich all aspects of the reader's creativity, allowing new seeds to grow in the field of clinical practice as well as the theorization of new models. A unique opportunity to open up horizons hitherto unknown." - Antonino Ferro, author, Avoiding Emotions, Living Emotions (2011)
Schore, Foreword. Preface. Part I: Affect Regulation and Clinical Process. Shrinking the Tsunami. Part II: Uncertainty. "It Never Entered My Mind." "Mentalize This!" Minding the Dissociative Gap. Part III: Stumbling Along and Hanging In. Truth and Human Relatedness. If This Be Technique, Make the Most of It! "Grown-up" Words: A Perspective on Unconscious Fantasy. Part IV: The Reach of Intersubjectivity. "The Nearness of You": A Personal Book-end.
A preeminent author on the understanding of trauma and dissociative phenomena, Philip M. Bromberg, Ph.D., is the author of Standing in the Spaces: Essays on Clinical Process, Trauma, and Dissociation (Analytic Press, 1998) and Awakening the Dreamer: Clinical Journeys (Analytic Press, 2006). He is Training and Supervising Analyst, William Alanson White Institute, and Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychology, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. Co-Editor Emeritus of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Dr. Bromberg serves on the editorial boards of Psychoanalytic Dialogues, Psychoanalytic Inquiry, and Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis. He lectures widely throughout the United States and is actively involved in the training of mental health professionals.