Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence-From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence-From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

Article excerpt

JUDITH HERMAN: Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence-From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. New York: Basic Books, 2015, 326 pp., $17.99, ISBN 978-0-465-06171-6.

The second edition of Judith Herman's groundbreaking work, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence-From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, was released in 2015, 23 years after its explosive initial publication in 1992. One of the most influential books of it's time, the work has held up well against the past 23 years of research and clinical observation in the field of psychological trauma.

Dr Herman is Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Director of Training at the Victims of Violence program at the Cambridge Health Alliance. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim fellowship, and is a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

Trauma and Recovery is told in two distinct parts, "Traumatic Disorders" and "Stages of Recovery," followed by an extensive epilogue to the 2015 edition. Hermans organizing concept is that the study of psychological trauma is an inherently political enterprise based on the fact that it calls attention to the oppressed and powerless people in society.

In Part One, "The Forgotten History of Trauma," three epochs of psychological trauma in the 20th century and their respective political movements are described: the Age of Hysteria and its links to the anticlerical political movement in France; Combat Neuroses and the antiwar movements, which culminated in the Vietnam War era, and sexual and domestic violence and its connection the feminist movements in Western Europe and the United States. Herman's brilliantly argued point is that insights gained in these epochs are repeatedly rediscovered then forgotten. Only when the universality and commonality of this affliction is recognized will a transcendence of the specific worlds of war and the domestic sphere be achieved.

In the second section, "Stages of Recovery", the point is repeatedly made that the therapist, while maintaining technical neutrality, must relinquish therapeutic neutrality in favor of "moral solidarity with the survivor" (p. …

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