There has been ongoing debate in the trauma literature about effective treatment for trauma-exposed populations, calling into question the longstanding belief in the beneficial value of facing, speaking about, and working through trauma. Is expression of trauma the sole pathway to integrative and healthy recovery, or does talking impede healing for some survivors? Do avoidance and silence have adaptive roles as coping mechanisms? What roles do silence and voice play following trauma? Six women who survived the Holocaust by hiding their Jewish identities as children were interviewed in this qualitative study, illuminating the function of voice and silence in coping with trauma. As they explore their own pathways from decades of silence about the Holocaust to later-life speaking out about their suffering, these survivors reveal the deeper trauma that unites their experiences: the trauma of having their voices silenced. These women survived their childhoods by denying a part of and remaining silent about their identity, rendering the act of speaking loaded and complicated in involuntary ways. Additionally, each survivor explains that the silence was reiterative: they were silenced by society's dismissal and collective avoidance of their Holocaust experiences. While each of the women's narratives reveals her belief in the value of speaking about trauma, avoidance, denial, and silence pervade in the aftermath of trauma. The implications of these narratives for coping and trauma treatment are explored.
|Commitee:||Gilligan, Carol, Patell, Shireen|
|School:||New York University|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-B 72/03, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Avoidance, Coping, Holocaust survivors, Recovery, Trauma|
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