Resilience and Survival: Understanding and Healing Intergenerational Trauma

Author(s) : Clara Mucci

Resilience and Survival: Understanding and Healing Intergenerational Trauma

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Resilience and Survival: Understanding and Healing Intergenerational Trauma presents a unique combination of resilience theory with attachment, psychoanalysis, and developmental neuroscience, with a mind–body–brain developmental approach to therapy. It shows how resilience can be reinforced and structured to create stronger individuals and societies, vis-à-vis increasing traumatic and stressful life circumstances. The author investigates several human practices, processes, and features that aid our capacity to resist, combat, adapt to or counter extreme traumatisation. These features and capabilities come into play at the interface between vulnerability and resilience, leading to a deeper understanding of the mechanism of resilience itself.

Each chapter illustrates the components necessary to achieve resilience: attachment, connectedness, memory, testimony, education, and the development and practice of artistic and creative activities. The book also explores the positive effects of moral commitment, empathy, and altruism, and psychodynamic intergenerational therapy on trauma, showing that acts and feelings of compassion and forgiveness, and an appreciation for and use of higher order symbolic structures, such as art and creativity, together contribute to building and reinforcing resilience and social solidarity.

Reviews and Endorsements

'The depth and the breadth of these rich creative chapters is remarkable – from evocative clinical descriptions of a master clinician working in the therapeutic alliance with traumatized patients, to neurobiologically-informed models of the cultural transmission of trauma over three generations.'
Allan Schore, author of Right Brain Psychotherapy and The Development of the Unconscious Mind

Clara Mucci’s new book Resilience and Survival could not be more timely and deeply useful in so many parts of our beleaguered world. Tracing the vulnerability to trauma in individual and social situations, Mucci shows us how powerfully a psychoanalytic lens can offer productive help and understanding … We need this book to understand the costs of collective cruelty and social conflict and to design the reparative projects which are necessary to recovery.” -
Adrienne Harris, Ph.D., Supervisor, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Training Analyst at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California

'Interwoven in this masterful work are core insights from John Bowlby, Sandor Ferenczi and many other gifted voices, helping Mucci articulate a hope for the future where connectedness and deep human listening have the power to offset the ongoing disruptive influences of war, adversity, insecurity and extreme trauma. This is a timely book that our world badly needs.'
Howard Steele, Professor of Psychology, The New School, New York and Co-director of the Center for Attachment Research

'To the ever-intriguing realm of human resilience, Clara Mucci adds a truly distinguished treatise. Deftly synthesizing recent advances in neurophysiology, modern child developmental studies, psychoanalytic object relations theory, and observations from the psycho-political arena, Mucci constructs a sophisticated sociobiological model of hope, faith and grit that makes it possible for us to survive, if not master, the cruelties of fellow human beings and the calamities of nature…'
Salman Akhtar, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Jefferson Medical College and Training and Supervising Analyst, Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia

'In [Resilience and Survival], Clara Mucci continues her important exploration of trauma and resilience based on both her extensive clinical experience, and her mastery and creative use of the literature, from psychoanalysis, attachment theory, and neurobiology… her deft and original explanation of the intergenerational transmission of trauma lead her to powerful recommendations for how to break the repetitive cycle and heal the traumatized at both the clinical and the societal levels.'
Robert A. Paul, Professor of Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies, Emory University and practising psychoanalyst, IPA

'I felt seen in the last chapter, where Mucci emphasised the more practical concerns of working with trauma, informed with a link to the history and development of analytic thought from Freud to the present day. [...] This book challenged some of my thinking, opened up a different perspective and at times had me nodding my head in agreement. In this regard, the book ticks a lot of boxes and is a worthwhile investment of time, energy and money.'
Ben Scanlan, UKCP-accredited existential phenomenological psychotherapist and integrative supervisor, New Psychotherapist, Winter 2022/23

'A rich thought-provoking elaboration of how attachment theory, object relations and psychoanalytic theory can support a fuller understanding of 'traumas of human agency'. [...] I would recommend this as a book which [..] integrates several crucial perspectives, advocating powerfully for the perspectives that resilience is 'not a trait but a process'.'
David Curl, counsellor in private practice, BACP Therapy Today, 34:3, 2023

Table of Contents


1. Resilience and survival: Understanding and healing intergenerationally transmitted trauma

2. The human pact: Trauma of human agency as the first reason for suffering and psychopathology

3. Attachment: An interpersonal vehicle of transmission and mediation of trauma

4. Attachment and transmission of trauma of the third level (genocide)

5.Therapy with survivors of human agency: To heal and redeem intergenerational trauma


About the Author(s)

Clara Mucci is a psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapist practicing in Milan and Pescara, Italy. She is Full Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Chieti, where she taught English Literature and Shakespearean Drama. She received a PhD from Emory University, Atlanta, and was a fellow in 2005-2006 at the Institute of Personality Disorder, New York, directed by Otto Kernberg. The author of several monographies on Shakespeare, Psychoanalysis and Literary Theory, she has taught in London (Westminster College), Atlanta, and New York (Hunter College).

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