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The Role of Visual Art in Writing about Trauma

To write a memoir about infant surgery as I have, one must often ease one’s way into the material–find a less direct way to crack through: Take the story by surprise. In my case, I chose art. Here are the pastel drawings I made before I wrote one word of the story.

The first pastel I drew was of my face and then my torso, tracing the ropes of tension I feel in my chest and belly. Drawing my scar onto paper, the rest of the story gushed through the floodgates–the slicing, the scream, the pain, the shock, depression, numbness.

The pastels as positioned here in the photo are not in left-to-right chronological order, but in the next posts, I will present them one by one as representative of a timeline, accompanied by short bursts of prose. 

Thank you for taking this journey with me.

"Becoming a Trauma-conscious Society"

is slow, but we are moving in this direction. What do I mean by a trauma-conscious society? The phrase, coined by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk in his book The Body Keeps the Score, has to do with understanding that many individuals are suffering from trauma due to conditions and situations of all sorts and that punishment… Continue Reading

1987 Headline: Newborns Do Feel Pain (Duh!)

New York Times November 24, 1987 Infants’ Sense of Pain Is Recognized, Finally By PHILIP M. BOFFEY  WASHINGTON, Nov. 23— Newborns do feel pain. Parents don’t have to be told that, and many pediatricians don’t either. But the contrary belief – that the smallest babies are such primitive organisms that they are oblivious to pain… Continue Reading

The Attack of the Great White Shark: A Trauma Trigger Strikes

As I lay in the dark in bed recently trying to sleep, the fear of death paralyzed me. My stomach was tight, my mind raced with fears: Has pyloric stenosis finally gotten me after all these years?   The week before, I had been pulling oil, i.e. chewing coconut oil, an ancient prescription for reducing inflammation in the… Continue Reading

The Year of the Body

My body. In 2017, I’m EMDR-ing my body part by part.  I started with my belly and abdomen. Here is where I was cut in 1952 in order to save my life. Back then, my stomach–the organ itself– was actually sliced in order to relieve pressure so the passageway into the small intestine would open up,… Continue Reading