Marsha Nodelman

Chapter: The Primal Silence.


The primal silence’ echoes an infantile stage before values. Winnicott wrote that, with certain patients and at certain points in an analysis, the ‘acceptance of birth material was crucial in and amongst other material’. He observed that when the ‘birth trauma is significant every detail of impingement and reaction is, as it were, etched on the patient’s memory’. The medical records appeared to confirm what body had registered and felt in the counter transference and later understood. Neither Stephen’s implicit affective states nor mine could have been made accessible through talking because the affects involved were not symbolized with words. The case of Stephen, underlines the significance of non-verbal analytic work as an essential vehicle for therapeutic action when the patient’s dramatic birth history is enacted within the therapeutic relationship. Stephen confessed that he had entertained the hope that by reliving/re-experiencing his birth experience in psychotherapy. ‘Uninterrupted silence’ was necessary as the medium for Stephen’s inter-mediate experiencing.

In: Relational Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis and Counselling: Appraisals and reappraisals, edited by Del Lowenthal and Andrew Samuels. Published by Routledge: Chapter 4, ‘The Primal Silence’, 2014.