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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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Chapter 3. Incitements from a Young Girl’s Mind

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· 3 · INCITEMENTS FROM A YOUNG GIRL’S MIND

Although I now appreciate that I was scared, distrustful, and angry, I’m not convinced that in my youthfulness I understood that. What I “knew” was that I didn’t seem to live in the same place as other people. I saw worlds of dishonesty and trickery and wondered if only I could see this “real” world. Am I the only person who is confused by what’s going on around here? Why does everyone seem to be doing just fine? Am I missing a key to something or are they blind? The worlds I saw disturbed me, but it also felt familiar, somewhat predictable, and thus, comfortable. Still, in the early conscious grappling with how to be and why we lived, I wasn’t physically near people who were openly questioning why the world existed the way it did. There was no discussion about truthfulness and deceit or authenticity and inauthenticity. I’m not sure that I can say our family lived a mainstream or simple life, but it was not marked with apparent or rampant contradictions. Grandmama and granddaddy farmed, and granny farmed and worked in a textile shop. Mama and deddy drove to the city to work every day; they worked all day and drove the thirty-to-sixty minutes back home where we’d eat dinner and rest or play until the next day. On Saturdays, deddy worked at a family member’s store butchering meat, and until she moved out, he took his oldest daughter,...

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