Until the Fires Stopped Burning, 9/11 and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses

By Lachkar, Joan | The Journal of Psychohistory, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

Until the Fires Stopped Burning, 9/11 and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses


Lachkar, Joan, The Journal of Psychohistory


Strozier, Charles, Until the Fires Stopped Burning, 9/1 1 and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses. New York. Columbia University Press, 2011

Strozier's description is like a Spielberg movie of an apocalypse. The only difference is that Strozier's accunt is real and Spielberg's is Action. Unlike Spielberg, who shows us what is happening, Strozier captures the psychological trauma as he integrates the historical, clinical and cultural perspectives, the shock and the horror of 9/11. The author brings us telling account of earth-shattering personal stories and vignettes of how the events of 9/11 blew apart not only the lives of survivors of but the New Yorkers who witnessed and experienced the tragedy. Although by no means does he intend to compare the magnitude of this event to the Holocaust or bombing of Hiroshima, he does point out that like the both Germans and Japanese as ordinary people that they were just doing their daily jobs. In his interviews Strozier offers a heartbreaking analysis as he ventures through the process of healing and recovery with his fellow New Yorkers (as he divides their experience into different geographical zones of sadness e.g., onlooker vs. .witnesses.) He shows great empathy and courage in a ten year project meticulously following their accounts as he generously offers his time. He refers to these victims as people who did not die out of natural causes, sickness, poor healthy, but through an apocalypse explosion of two buildings.

In addition, the author makes note of the horrifying experience of millions of people watching on television as the planes repeatedly crash into the two building and people jumping out windows. All is left of their loved ones, friends, co-workers are remnants of ash and dust covering the New York skies.

Many people in the group gathered to tell their stories said they no longer feel safe. Some were holocaust survivors who escaped Nazi Germany came to America to feel safe. As one survivor remarked she will never feel safe again nor could she ever imagine a bombing like this. "You are not safe on the train, you are not safe on the airplane and you are not safe in the car."

Strozer gives us hands on experience with a small group of remarkable people who understood the deeper meaning of the disaster extending even beyond 9/11, including Holocaust survivors. …

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