This book relates the psychoanalytic journey of a man in his thirties, a grandson of a high-level SS officer, whose case illustrates how individuals can sometimes suffer greatly or cause the suffering of other incent persons, simply because they are descendants of perpetrators. In it, technical considerations in treating such an individual, including countertransference issues and concepts related to transgenerational transmissions-for example, identification, depositing, dissociation, encapsulation, and remembering through actions-are explored. The man had a repeating daydream of carrying a big egg under his arm. The imagined egg, representing his encapsulated dissociated state, contained the mental representation of his Nazi grandfather and his grandfather's victims, along with images of most tragic historical events. He attempted to turn his grandfather's image from a life-taker to a life-giver and wished to own the older man's grandiose specialness, while fearing the loss of his own life. These opposite aims created unnamed catastrophes . This book describes his psychoanalytic process from beginning to end and how he slowly cracked open his metaphorical egg, facing and naming the catastrophes, and eventually taming them.
Vamik D. Volkan is an Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, an Emeritus Training and Supervising Analyst at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, and the Senior Erik Erikson Scholar at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He is the president of the International Dialogue Initiative and a former president of the International Society of Political Psychology, the Virginia Psychoanalytic Society, and the American College of Psychoanalysts. He received the Sigmund Freud Award given by the city of Vienna in collaboration with the World Council of Psychotherapy, and in 2015 received the Sigourney Award, honouring achievements for the advancement of psychoanalysis.