Since the publication of Dr. Leonard Shengold’s highly acclaimed book Soul Murder in 1989, issues of child abuse have become the subject of much public debate. Now Dr. Shengold offers his latest reflections on the circumstances in which the willful abuse and neglect of children arises and on the consequences of this abuse, providing compelling examples from literature and from clinical material.
Dr. Shengold describes various types of child abuse as well as techniques of adaptation and denial by soul murder victims. He explores the psychopathology of soul murder, addressing such issues as instinctual drives, aggression and sexuality, love, and narcissism. In a chapter on sadomasochism, he relates the story of Algernon Swinburnewho may have been a victim of soul murderand he tells about Elizabeth Bishop, who, like Swinburne, has been able to use artistic creativity to transcend the damage sustained by early childhood trauma. Finally he offers suggestions about therapy for the abused and neglected, emphasizing the need to restore the power to care about and love others in order to ameliorate soul murder’s narcissistically regressive effects.