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The Unspeakable: Narratives of Trauma

Magda Stroinska, Vikki Cecchetto and Kate Szymanski

How does a trauma survivor communicate «what can’t be said out loud» to others? In what form? How can we – readers, listeners, viewers – recognize the pain and suffering hidden behind words, pictures, or other artifacts produced by trauma survivors? This volume presents a possible response by bringing together the «expressions of the unspeakable» by trauma survivors and the interpretation of researchers in various fields, i.e. clinical psychologists, linguists, anthropologists, literary and film scholars, historians, and visual artists, some of whom are survivors of trauma. By describing or analyzing different strategies for finding a narrative form for expressing the survivor’s trauma, the contributors offer not only insights into how the survivors dealt with the pain of traumatic memories but also how they were able to find hope for healing by telling their stories, in literature, graphic novels, visual art or simply by creating a personal narrative in their own voice.
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Trauma Narrative: Recovery and Posttraumatic Growth – A Clinical Perspective


Kate Szymanski and Nancy Rosenfeld


Psychologists are faced with narratives of personal experience and use them to change lives by constructing new, more integrated ones. Despite the universality of the narrative, survivors of trauma often silence themselves or are silenced because it is too difficult to tell and to listen. Nonetheless, a primary way individuals make sense of any experience, particularly of trauma, is by casting it in a narrative form. Personal narratives are the means by which we bring order. The primary tool for the development of a coherent self- narrative not only facilitates recovery, but can also promote transcendence of tragic experience. Posttraumatic growth refers to positive psychological change developed as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life circumstances.

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