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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

Re-enactment is Real

What is re-enactment?  Before I reach for Dr. Peter Levine book Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma to give the official definition, I’ll have a go at it myself. Re-enactment is an unconscious attempt made by someone with unresolved trauma to resolve it. For example, the date of one’s car accident arrives, an accident that resulted in… Continue Reading

Bessel van der Kolk on the radio: A Must-Hear Interview

Click on this link to hear a fantastic interview with Bessel van der Kolk (choose the edited version) about trauma and the need for treatment that reconnects a trauma survivor with his or her body. He is interviewed by Krista Tippett on the program “On Being.” I resonated with everything van der Kolk had to say… Continue Reading

Can We Free Ourselves from PTS Prison?

Talking with folks about PTS, those who have it and those who don’t, I get the feeling that, in general, people believe that those with PTSD will just have to live with it the rest of their lives. Or, folks are a tiny bit hopeful that they or someone can change but don’t really believe… Continue Reading