The Silent Past and the Invisible Present
Memory, Trauma, and Representation in Psychotherapy
By Paul Renn
Foreword by Judith Guss Teicholz
Routledge – 2012 – 214 pages
Drawing on research in the fields of cognitive and developmental psychology, attachment, trauma, and neuroscience, as well as 20 years in forensic and private practice, Paul Renn deftly illustrates the ways in which this research may be used to inform an integrated empirical/hermeneutic model of clinical practice. He suggests that silent, invisible processes derived from the past maintain non-optimal ways of experiencing and relating in the present, and that a neuroscience understanding of the dynamic nature of memories, and of the way in which the implicit and explicit memory systems operate and interact, is salient to a concomitant understanding of trauma, personality development, and therapeutic action. Specifically, Renn argues that an intersubjective psychodynamic model can use the power of an emotionally meaningful therapeutic relationship to gradually facilitate both relational and neurological changes in patients with trauma histories. Taken as a whole, these themes reflect a paradigmatic shift in psychoanalytic thinking about clinical work and the process of change.
"It turns out that Paul Renn not only knows the intellectual sweep of the psychoanalytic world… but he is also a wonderful writer and a seasoned, sensitive clinician…Whether writing about the subjects of memory, trauma, concept of mind, attachment, or developmental processes, Renn first presents relevant research findings, then pertinent psychoanalytic theoretical models from many discourses, and, lastly, graceful clinical examples. Patients and friends frequently ask me for "something to read" that will illuminate for them what contemporary psychoanalysis is all about. I usually suggest something from Mitchell or Beebe and Lachmann. Now with Renn’s The Silent Past and the Invisible Present I have the perfect book to recommend to the sophisticated layperson and professional. It’s an important contribution to psychoanalysis and a knockout!" - Joye Weisel-Barth, International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology
"In The Silent Past and the Invisible Present, Paul Renn guides the field of psychoanalysis back to the future. Through his elegant presentation of a contemporary perspective on memory, especially the building blocks inherent in implicit memory, Renn makes the silent past speak, the present visible, and, via his clinical applications, our patients' futures brighter. Through his respectful presentation of a current perspective on past psychoanalytic theorizing, he even-handedly illuminates old obscurities, offers an integrated vision of present conceptions, and foreshadows a route to our field's future." - Joseph D. Lichtenberg, co-author of Psychoanalysis and Motivational Systems: A New Look
"Welcome to an exciting new voice in relational psychoanalysis. At once modest and authoritative, Renn integrates attachment theory and research, contemporary neuroscience, and developmental psychopathology into a clear, coherent, and compelling psychoanalytic narrative. With humor and sensitivity, the plight of conduct-disordered males with developmental trauma is poignantly illuminated. Students and experienced practitioners will find themselves reading this compelling volume in one sitting. As they return to their consulting rooms, they will notice that their therapeutic style, and grasp of its scientific underpinnings, will have been irreversibly transformed." - Professor Jeremy Holmes, University of Exeter, and author of Exploring in Security: Towards an Attachment Informed Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
"This book delivers far more than it promises. In the early chapters, Paul Renn explains and masterfully interweaves attachment research, neuroscience findings, traumatic memory systems, and contemporary relational psychoanalytic thinking into an elegant tapestry. But don't stop reading. The later chapters show him as a wise and compassionate clinician putting all this scholarship to work in the criminal justice system. Those who hope and believe that mental health services pertain to everyone should read this book. Once read, The Silent Past and the Invisible Present belongs on your shelf next to Neil Altman's The Analyst in the Inner City." - Donna M. Orange, author of The Suffering Stranger: Hermeneutics for Everyday Clinical Practice
"Paul Renn is a magnificently integrative scholar who also appears to be a born clinician. Drawing on a superabundance of theory and research from attachment, neuroscience, infant-parent studies, contemporary psychoanalysis, and traumatology, he gives us a nuanced relational model of treatment evocatively illustrated with examples of his own very human and humane work with patients. His book is a deeply thoughtful, thoroughly researched, and lucid meditation on the question: How does therapy heal? The Silent Past and the Invisible Present is a major contribution that will be of use to seasoned and novice clinicians alike." - David J. Wallin, author of Attachment in Psychotherapy
"In The Silent Past and the Invisible Present Paul Renn… seeks to integrate the disparate languages of psychoanalysis with those of neuroscience, cognitive psychology, attachment theory, trauma studies, and developmental psychology. … Renn’s book does not provide a unified field theory, or create a single language. However what it does do is present another rich perspective, one that joins the author’s far reaching curiosity and gentle lucidity with his goal of understanding all that’s involved in the process of change in psychotherapy. Here is an author whose interest is both wide and deep. He seeks the connections between things, making links and fashioning understandings that cross psychoanalytic schools and scientific domains. … the book likely has great value both for graduate students and candidates new to these ideas, as well as for seasoned analysts who have not followed these developments that have come to represent such a large part of the current psychoanalytic conversation, especially around issues of treating trauma." - Bruce Reis, The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, April 2013
"In this book Renn deftly draws together past and present developments in psychoanalysis, attachment theory and neuroscience to explain the crucial role of early relational experiences in human development… The book is clearly written, well researched, scrupulously referenced and illustrated with helpful case studies from the author’s therapeutic practice. Paul Renn has the ability to make complicated material seem straightforward and easy to understand. I thoroughly enjoyed it and heartily recommend it to any practitioner, irrespective of experience, who is interested in working relationally." - Els van Ooijen, Therapy Today, July 2012
Memory and Freudian Psychoanalysis. The Two Main Memory Systems: A Neuroscience Perspective. Contemporary Perspectives on Psychological Trauma and Affect Regulation. Memory, Trauma, and Dissociation: The Re-emergence of Trauma-related Childhood Memories. Psychoanalysis and the Internal World: How Different Theories Understand the Concept of Mind. Attachment and Intersubjectivity: Developmental Perspectives on the Internal World. A Contemporary Relational Model: Integrating Attachment, Trauma, and Neuroscience Research. Intersubjectivity, Attachment, and Implicit Memory: The Development of Representational Models. Attachment, Trauma, and Intimate Violence. Brief, Time-limited Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A Case of Intimate Violence from a Forensic Setting. The Role of Explicit and Implicit Memory in Therapeutic Action.
Paul Renn is a UKCP accredited psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice in London and a lecturer on the Kids Company training course. He trained at the Centre for Attachment-based Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. He has a background in the National Probation Service in London, developing a particular interest in working with violent men and couples from an attachment theory and research perspective. He has presented papers at international conferences, devised and facilitated workshops on attachment and trauma and violent attachments, and had articles published in professional journals and books in the UK and abroad. He is on the editorial board of Psychoanalytic Inquiry.