Trauma and transcryptum: towards a feminist methodology for the analysis of narratives of trauma

Keywords: trauma, repetition, latency, transcryptum, matrixial.


The objective of this article is twofold: to deepen into the psychoanalytical concepts of trauma and transcryptum (a term coined by Bracha Ettinger), in order to trace a methodology for the analysis of literary transcrypta. The article is structured in two parts. In the first one, there is a revision of Freudian and Lacanian texts, offering a definition of trauma and related concepts such as latency, return of the repressed, repetition compulsion and encounter.  In the second part there is an analysis of how Freudian and Lacanian premises are reframed in Ettinger’s theory, proposing that, to a certain extent, the term trauma is equal to what she calls “memory of oblivion”, and that such memory is crucial for our understanding of the transcryptum. The conclusion describes how we can use the theory of transcryptum for the analysis of literary texts.



Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Sonia Cejudo-Escamilla, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México




Barthes, R. (2002). Variaciones sobre la escritura. (E. Folch González, Trans.). Barcelona: Paidós.

Butler, J. (2015). Bracha’s Eurydice. Theory, Culture & Society. 21(1), 95-100. DOI:

Calvino, I. (1995). Seis propuestas para el próximo milenio. (A. Bernárdez, Trans.). (2nd ed.). Madrid: Siruela.

Caruth, C. (1996). Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Ettinger, B. (1999). Traumatic Wit(h)ness-Thing and Matrixial Co/in-habit(u)ating. Parallax, 5(1), 89-98. DOI:

Ettinger, B. (1999). Trauma and Beauty. Paradoxa, 3, 15 - 23.

Ettinger, B. (2002). Transcryptum. In L. Belau & P. Ramadanovic (Eds.), Topologies of Trauma: Essays on the Limit of Knowledge and Memory (pp. 251-271). New York: Other Press.

Ettinger, B. (2006). The Matrixial Borderspace. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.

Ettinger, B. (2016). Art as the Transport-Station of Trauma. In Y. Ataira, D. Gurevitz, H. Pedaya & Y. Neira (eds.), Interdisciplinary Handbook of Trauma and Culture (pp. 151-160). Switzerland: Springer, 2016. DOI:

Fractman, A. (2005). Los desarrollos acerca del trauma psíquico según Sigmund Freud. Psicoanálisis, 27(1/2), 213-22.

Freud, S. (1920). A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis (G. Stanley Hall, Trans.). New York: Horace Liveright. DOI:

Freud, S. (1939). Moses and Monotheism (K. Jones, Trans.). London: The Hogarth Press and The Institute of Psychoanalysis.

Freud, S. (1961). Beyond the Pleasure Principle (J. Strachey, Trans.). New York & London: W.W. Norton & Company.

Freud, S. (2010). The Interpretation of Dreams (J. Strachey, Trans.). New York: Basic Book.

Lacan, J. (1973). Livre XI: Les quatre concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.

Lacan, J. (1981). Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (A. Sheridan, Trans.). New York & London: W.W. Norton & Company.

Laplanche, J. (2006). Problematiques VI: L’après-coup. París: Presses Universitaires de France.

Laplanche, J. (2015). Preface. In Freud, S. Más allá del principio de placer (J. L. Etcheverry, Trans.). Buenos Aires: Amorrortu, 13-23.

Laplanche, J. & Pontalais, J. (1973). The Language of Psychoanalysis (F. Gimeno Cervantes, Trans). London: The Hogarth Press.

Luterau, L. (2010). ¿Una estética lacaniana? La estética de Lacan o una estética con Lacan. Ramona: revista de artes visuales, (98), 20-28.

Palmberger, M. (2006). Making and breaking Boundaries: Memory Discourses and Memory Politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In M. Bufon, A. Gosal, S. Nurkovic, & A. Sanguin (Eds.), The Western Balkans: A European Challenge on the Decennial of the Dayton Peace Agreement (pp. 525-536). Koper: Založba Annales.

Pollock, G. (2004). Thinking the Feminine: Aesthetic Practice as Introduction to Bracha Ettinger and the Concepts of Matrix and Metramorphosis. Theory, Culture & Society, 21(1), 5-65. DOI:

Pollock, G. (2013). Trauma, Time and Painting: Bracha Ettinger and the Matrixial Aesthetic. In B. Papenburg & M. Zarcycka (Eds.), Carnal Aesthetics: Transgressive Imagery and Feminist Politics (pp. 21-41). London & New York: I. B. Tauris.

Rowley, A. (1999). An introduction to Bracha Lichtenberg-Ettinger’s ‘Traumatic Wit(h)ness-Thing and Matrixial Co/in-habit(u)ating. Parallax, 5(1), 89-98.

Soler, C. (2010). La repetición en la experiencia analítica. (H. Pons, Trans.). Buenos Aires: Manantial.

Spam. (n.d.). In dictionary. Retrieved July 22, 2020 from

Wellek, R. & A. Warren. (1966). Teoría Literaria (J. M. Gimeno, Trans.). (4th ed.). Madrid: Gredos.