TUESDAY, January 2, 2007 at 8:00 p.m.

THE WORKINGS OF FORGIVENESS:
CHARLES DICKENS AND DAVID COPPERFIELD

presenter: Lucy LaFarge, M.D.
discussant: Roy Schafer, Ph.D.

Psychoanalysts have often rejected the concept of forgiveness as unanalytic, but the capacity for forgiveness remains a quality that is valued by our patients and by society at large. Deeper forms of forgiveness require a reworking of the superego, recognition of the damage that injury has caused, and an accompanying process of self-forgiveness. Some injuries can never be entirely forgiven; with these, forgiveness is at best partial, and some elements of the injury are liable to be revived at times of anger and disappointment. The childhood of Charles Dickens was marked by an early experience of abuse and neglect, when his parents sent him, at age twelve, to work in a blacking factory. Dickens later included a thinly disguised account of this experience in his autobiographical novel, David Copperfield. The author explores the ideas about childhood trauma, and the way that it may be forgiven, which emerge in the novel, and argues that the writing of the novel facilitated a process of partial forgiveness for Dickens, which deepened his work but left him vulnerable to the return of vengeful wishes in his later life.