Saturday, April 08, 2017

Judith Lewis Herman

“Further evidence for the pathogenic role of dissociation has come from a large scale clinical and community study of traumatized people conducted by a task force of the American Psychiatric Association. In this study, people who reported having dissociative symptoms were also quite likely to develop persistent somatic symptoms for which no physical cause could be found. They also frequently engaged in self-destructive attacks on their own bodies. The results of these investigations validate the century-old insight that traumatized people relive in their bodies the moments of terror that they can not describe in words. Dissociation appears to be the mechanism by which intense sensory and emotional experiences are disconnected from the social domain of language and memory, the internal mechanism by which terrorized people are silenced.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“Denying the reality of my experience—that was the most harmful. Not being able to trust anyone was the most serious effect. . . . I know I acted in ways that were despicable. But I wasn’t crazy. Some people go around acting like that because they feel hopeless. Finally I found a few people along the way who have been able to feel OK about me even though I had severe problems. Good therapists were those who really validated my experience.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“Survivors feel unsafe in their bodies. Their emotions and their thinking feel out of control. They also feel unsafe in relation to other people.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“Dissociation appears to be... the internal mechanism by which terrorized people are silenced.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“THE ORDINARY RESPONSE TO ATROCITIES is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable.
Atrocities, however, refuse to be buried.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“Repetition is the mute language of the abused child.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“Many survivors have such profound deficiencies in self-protection that they can barely imagine themselves in a position of agency or choice. The idea of saying no to the emotional demands of a parent, spouse, lover or authority figure may be practically inconceivable. Thus, it is not uncommon to find adult survivors who continue to minister to the needs of those who once abused them and who continue to permit major intrusions without boundaries or limits. Adult survivors may nurse their abusers in illness, defend them in adversity, and even, in extreme cases, continue to submit to their sexual demands.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“I have tried to communicate my ideas in a language that preserves connections, a language that is faithful both to the dispassionate, reasoned traditions of my profession and to the passionate claims of people who have been violated and outraged. I have tried to find a language that can withstand the imperatives of doublethink and allows all of us to come a little closer to facing the unspeakable.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“The only one of the early investigators who carried the exploration of hysteria to its logical conclusion was Breuer's patient Anna O. After Breuer abandoned her, she apparently remained ill for several years. And then she recovered. The mute hysteric who had invented the "talking cure" found her voice and her sanity, in the women's liberation movement. Under a pseudonym, Paul Berthold, she translated into German the classic treatise by Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, and authored a play, Women's Rights. Under her own name, Bertha Papenheim became a prominent feminist social worker, intellectual, and organizer. In the course of a long and fruitful career she directed an orphanage for girls, founded a feminist organization for Jewish women and traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East to campaign against the sexual exploitation of women and children. Her dedication, energy and commitment were legendary. In the words of a colleague, 'A volcano lived in this woman... Her fight against the abuse of women and children was almost a physically felt pain for her.' At her death, the philosopher Martin Buber commemorated her: 'I not only admired her but loved her, and will love her until the day I die. There are people of spirit and there are people of passion, both less common than one might think. Rarer still are the people of spirit and passion. But rarest of all is a passionate spirit. Bertha Pappenheim was a woman with just such a spirit.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“HYPERAROUSAL
After a traumatic experience, the human system of self-preservation seems to go onto permanent alert, as if the danger might return at any moment. Physiological arousal continues unabated. In this state of hyerarousal, which is the first cardinal symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, the traumatized person startles easily, reacts irritably to small provocations, and sleeps poorly. Kardiner proposed that "the nucleus of the [traumatic] neurosis is physioneurosis."8 He believed that many of the symptoms observed in combat veterans of the First World War-startle reactions, hyperalertness, vigilance for the return of danger, nightmares, and psychosomatic complaints-could be understood as resulting from chronic arousal of the autonomic nervous system. He also interpreted the irritability and explosively aggressive behavior of traumatized men as disorganized fragments of a shattered "fight or flight" response to overwhelming danger.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“...some patients resist the diagnosis of a post-traumatic disorder. They may feel stigmatized by any psychiatric diagnosis or wish to deny their condition out of a sense of pride. Some people feel that acknowledging psychological harm grants a moral victory to the perpetrator, in a way that acknowledging physical harm does not.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“It is morally impossible to remain neutral in this conflict.
The bystander is forced to take sides.

It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator.
All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing.
He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain.

The victim demands action, engagement and remembering...

In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator's first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened, the victim lies, the victim exaggerates, the victim brought it upon herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on.

The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“First, the physiological symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder have been brought within manageable limits. Second, the person is able to bear the feelings associated with traumatic memories. Third, the person has authority over her memories; she can elect both to remember the trauma and to put memory aside. Fourth, the memory of the traumatic event is a coherent narrative, linked with feeling. Fifth, the person's damaged self-esteem has been restored. Sixth, the person's important relationships have been reestablished. Seventh and finally, the person has reconstructed a coherent system of meaning and belief that encompasses the story of trauma.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“To hold traumatic reality in consciousness requires a social context that affirms and protects the victim and that joins the victim and witness in a common alliance. For the individual victim, this social context is created by relationships with friends, lovers, and family. For the larger society, the social context is created by political movements that give voice to the disempowered.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“For survivors of prolonged, repeated trauma, it is not practical to approach each memory as a separate entity. There are simply too many incidents, and often similar memories have blurred together. Usually, however, a few distinct and particularly meaningful incidents stand out. Reconstruction of the trauma narrative is often based heavily upon these paradigmatic incidents, with the understanding that one episode stands for many.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“Admitting the need for help may also compound the survivor's sense of defeat. The therapists Inger Agger and Soren Jensen, who work with political refugees, describe the case of K, a torture survivor with severe post-traumatic symptoms who adamantly insisted that he had no psychological problems: "K...did not understand why he was to talk with a therapist. His problems were medical: the reason why he did not sleep at night was due to the pain in his legs and feet. He was asked by the therapist...about his political background, and K told him that he was a Marxist and that he had read about Freud and he did not believe in any of that stuff: how could his pain go away by talking to a therapist?”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“It has become clear that, as Janet observed one hundred years ago, dissociation lies at the heart of the traumatic stress disorders. Studies of survivors of disasters, terrorist attacks, and combat have demonstrated that people who enter a dissociative state at the time of the traumatic event are among most likely to develop long-lasting PTSD.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“Though both partners may wish for reconciliation, their unspoken goals are often sharply in conflict. The abuser usually wishes to reestablish his pattern of coercive control, while the victim wishes to resist it.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“People who have survived atrocities often tell their stories in a highly emotional, contradictory and fragmented manner.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“This book appears at a time when public discussion of the common atrocities of sexual and domestic life has been made possible by the women’s movement, and when public discussion of the common atrocities of political life has been made possible by the movement for human rights. I expect the book to be controversial—first, because it is written from a feminist perspective; second, because it challenges established diagnostic concepts; but third and perhaps most importantly, because it speaks about horrible things, things that no one really wants to hear about.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“While in principle groups for survivors are a good idea, in practice it soon becomes apparent that to organize a successful group is no simple matter. Groups that start out with hope and promise can dissolve acrimoniously, causing pain and disappointment to all involved. The destructive potential of groups is equal to their therapeutic promise. The role of the group leader carries with it a risk of the irresponsible exercise of authority.
Conflicts that erupt among group members can all too easily re-create the dynamics of the traumatic event, with group members assuming the roles of perpetrator, accomplice, bystander, victim, and rescuer. Such conflicts can be hurtful to individual participants and can lead to the group’s demise. In order to be successful, a group must have a clear and focused understanding of its therapeutic task and a structure that protects all participants adequately against the dangers of traumatic reenactment. Though groups may vary widely in composition and structure, these basic conditions must be fulfilled without exception.
Commonality with other people carries with it all the meanings of the word common. It means belonging to a society, having a public role, being part of that which is universal. It means having a feeling of familiarity, of being known, of communion. It means taking part in the customary, the commonplace, the ordinary, and the everyday. It also carries with it a feeling of smallness, or insignificance, a sense that one’s own troubles are ‘as a drop of rain in the sea.’ The survivor who has achieved commonality with others can rest from her labors. Her recovery is accomplished; all that remains before her is her life.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

“In avoiding any situations reminiscent of the past trauma, or any initiative that might involve future planning and risk, traumatized people deprive themselves of those new opportunities for successful coping that might mitigate the effect of the traumatic experience. Thus, constrictive symptoms, though they may represent an attempt to defend against overwhelming emotional states, exact a high price for whatever protection they afford. They narrow and deplete the quality of life and ultimately perpetuate the effects of the traumatic event.”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

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