Calendar of Events
Trauma: Remembering, Forgetting and Memorialization
Jane G. Tillman, PhD ABPP, Conference Director
The history of trauma resides in each of us---as citizens we are marked by the history of our country at war, both present and past. As clinicians we listen to stories of trauma from victims perpetrators, and bystanders. We often bear witness to the psychological, physical, and spiritual effects of individual and group trauma. As individuals traumatic exposure may involve a very private or inward range of human experience producing symptoms but also providing the wellspring for creativity to emerge as an effort toward working-through. In this year’s Fall Conference, we link academicians and clinicians to explore the history of trauma and the attempts to remember, forget, or mark the landscape with our history of trauma, moral injury, and losses. What to do with our dead soldiers, ideals, family members, hopes becomes a central task for those traumatized by various forms of violence and degradation.
Friday October 18, 2013 8:00 pm
Welcome and Opening Keynote:
Mark Micale, PhD
“What History and Historians Can Contribute to the Study of Trauma”
Saturday October 19, 2013
8:30 Breakfast and Registration
9:15 Morning Session
Lewis Hyde, MA: “On Forgetting”
Marilyn Charles, PhD, ABPP: “Remembering, Repeating, and Working Through: Collage: Piecing Together the Fragments of Traumatic Memory”
2:00 Afternoon Session
Diane O’Donoghue, PhD: Trauma in Stone: Vienna and the Scene of Ruins
Joyce Slochower, PhD, ABPP: “On the psychodynamics of commemorative ritual”
6:00 Conference Reception
Mark Micale, PhD
Marilyn Charles, PhD, ABPP
Lewis Hyde, MA
Diane O’Donoghue, PhD
Joyce Slochower, PhD, ABPP
Mark Micale, Ph.D.
What History and Historians Can Contribute to the Study of Trauma
In the past generation or so, the psychology of human trauma has become the subject of intensive study in several fields, including law, sociology, anthropology, literary criticism, and women’s studies, as well of course as medicine, psychiatry, psychology, and psychoanalysis. During this period, professional historians, too, have discovered trauma, which is scarcely surprising given the continuous record of massive collective catastrophic events—both natural and man-made, military and civilian—that characterize the human past.
In his keynote presentation to the conference, historian of science and medicine Mark S. Micale will develop three main points: first, he will describe “the new historical trauma studies” of the past 25 years, emphasizing the best scholarship that historians in Europe and North America have produced and highlighting the methods, sources, interpretations, and insights in this body of research.
Second, he will highlight a set of similarities and differences in the newly emerging historical literature on psychological trauma and the rich research tradition on trauma produced by mental health professionals since the time of Freud. Along the way, he will argue that, despite certain key divergences between these two approaches, the ongoing exploration of trauma as lived historical experience has much to offer current-day mental health practitioners and should be engaged by them.
In the third section of his comments, Micale will bring in several very recent or in-progress studies of past human collective traumatic episodes, especially projects concerning Asian cultures, societies, and histories. This new Asian-centered scholarship, he suggests, both enriches former research on the topic, which was derived solely from Euro-American history, and points the way toward a more globalized understanding of trauma, which will be essential in the twenty-first century.
Marilyn Charles, Ph.D., ABPP
Remembering, Repeating, and Working Through: Collage: Piecing Together the Fragments of Traumatic Memory
This presentation will detail briefly ways in which primary experience can become an ‘epiphanic moment’ that is then translated by the individual into a form that can communicate something of the original experience to the audience or reader. A series of poems and collages will be offered to illustrate how creative acts can serve the process of remembering, repeating, and working through traumatic experience. Examining the theoretical implications of trauma and its silent transmutation into the art object, Dr. Charles will use her own productions as examples of the manifestations of grief and restoration, discussing how her own mourning and creative processes have become entwined, evolving into a creative effort that both serves the mourning process and moves beyond it. She will also explore how the audience, in receiving these depictions of traumatic memory, may actively participate in their own healing work through use of this creative and constructive mourning. The group can then perhaps discuss ways in which mourning and failure to mourn affect the capacities of the therapist to engage in creative therapeutic work with patients, and how our own creative efforts outside of the consulting room impact our patients.
Lewis Hyde, MA
On Forgetting Trauma: From Speechlessness to Proper Burial
Early in the last century Pierre Janet suggested that memory is more dynamic than a simple record of the past: "Memory...is an action; essentially, it is the action of telling a story." That given, Janet went on to say that traumatized patients, “incapable of associating” what has happened to them with the on-going story of their lives, cannot “strictly speaking” be said to have a memory at all "It is only for convenience that we speak of it as a 'traumatic memory.'"
That being the case, there is a therapeutic puzzle for where there is no memory there can be no forgetting and therefore no satisfactory laying to rest of injuries from the past.
Lewis Hyde’s talk will consider some of the questions raised by such assertions. Why is it that the story of trauma is so hard to produce? If the legacy of trauma is intrusive and fragmentary thoughts, how might these be knitted into a proper narrative? And if that is done, if a memory-story appears, what is the process of letting it go? Once the wounds of trauma become available to consciousness, how might they be properly buried?
Diane O’Donoghue, Ph.D.
Trauma in Stone: Vienna and the Scene of Ruins
The theme of this conference suggests the importance of considering the relationship between architecture and trauma. Two frequently discussed examples of such a connection are the creation of memorials and the imagery of buildings whose destruction has become inextricably associated with traumatic events. Can a structure also become the site of profound loss when its façade of meaning crumbles, even if its structure remains intact? This paper will examine this question as it relates to Vienna in the years immediately before 1900. This was a time when reactionary political ideologies pervaded certain public buildings that, only decades before, had been built to embody the very civic values being eradicated. It is at this time that Freud’s writing on trauma took an architectural turn. Considering the possible significance of this alignment may shed light on two related areas: the ways that physical structures informed Freud’s understanding of trauma, and the uses of psychoanalytic theories to further consider the affective reception of architecture.
Joyce Slochower, Ph.D., ABPP
On the Psychodynamics of Commemorative Ritual
Dr. Slochower will explore the dynamics of commemorative ritual as embodied and enacted outside the consulting room. While the function of lifelong acts of memorial in marking traumatic loss has been well documented, psychoanalysis has given short shrift to the value of ongoing commemorative rituals in instances of “ordinary” (i.e., less traumatic) loss. Enacted across the lifespan, commemorative rituals serve multiple functions. They allow us to mark absence and create “presence” as we access and sometimes reshape personal memory. Such rituals can create a sense of linkage to “like mourners.” At their best, these acts—in their multiple incarnations—mimic aspects of psychoanalytic work by helping us deepen emotional connectedness and facilitating integrated remembering in a way that enriches and frees rather than binds us. She will use a memorial ritual embedded in the Jewish holiday cycle (yizkor) to illustrate.
- To identify multiple contexts of traumatic experience and associated affects
- To explore the value of memorialization in the context of societal trauma
- To explore the role of creativity in representing traumatic states
Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health providers
7.5 (M.D., Ph.D., Social Work)
Seminar Fee: $200 Early Registration by September 27: $150
For more information contact Alicia Zaludova at 413-931-5230.