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I Never Wanted to Be a Stereotype

A Sociologist’s Narrative of Healing

Cindy Brooks Dollar

Trauma and its consequences are social phenomena. Coming from a working-class family and raised in a small, rural Southern area, this author's narrative offers a unique style of life history reporting whereby the author uses her academic standpoint to situate her life experiences in broader macro-social and cultural contexts. Weaving scholarship with personal narrative, the author highlights connections between self and social awareness, which is crucial, especially in a modern, Western context where the rhetoric of excessive individualism is prioritized. Discussing various issues, including objectification, violence, isolation, stigma, trauma, shame, integration, healing, peace, and love, she illustrates the application and significance of sociological knowledge to individual life. Many chapters include and conclude with excerpts from the author’s diary entries, which she has maintained for over 30 years. These provide a relatively unfiltered glimpse into her personal and social consciousness throughout various life stages, including adolescence, teens, young and middle adulthood. The book closes with a summary of existing research on trauma and recovery, which often promotes the use of body-based therapies. The author argues that these findings have important implications for sociology given the body’s symbolic socio-cultural status and how it is used to maintain existing inequalities and inequities, which (re)produce shared forms of trauma and differential access to recovery.

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This work is a representation of much encouragement. I should first thank the staff at Peter Lang, including Michelle Smith and Ashita Shaw who worked steadfastly with me during the acquisition process, and Jackie Pavlovic and Sarath Kumar, who made the book production process relatively straightforward and manageable. I also thank the anonymous peer reviewers who provided critiques of the work and suggestions to improve it. Even in its early iterations, they recognized the value of this work despite its difficulty “fitting in” to a clear genre.

My colleagues at UNCG, some who still roam the hall and others who have retired from in-office visibility, have been instrumental to the publication of this work. A special thank you to Saundra Westervelt, Steve Cureton, Ken Allan, Steve Kroll-Smith, Dave Kauzlarich, and Ting Wang. All of you have been shockingly supportive, thus reminding me of the acute power of help. I also wish to thank Carol Stack for her insightful comments as I worked my way through writing this book.

In 2018, around the time that this book idea came to me, I proposed a new course at UNCG titled Considering Ourselves Offenders, Victims, and Survivors. The name has been disparaged as too long and the course content as unpleasant by some university folks, but the students who I have met through the class are magnificent. They are capable of grappling with ostracized ideas related to violence, cruelty, love, and respect. In our coming together and...

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