Splintered Reflections: Images of the Body in Trauma

By Jean Goodwin; Reina Attias | Go to book overview

Introduction:
How to Use This Book

For more than fifteen years we have spent many hours of each working day listening to our patients describe tragic moments from childhood and strange, inexplicable bodily symptoms and experiences. This book represents our efforts to discuss and connect these phenomena in conversation with our patients, so as to open pathways to symptom reduction and the resumption of previously blocked development in the areas of self-perception and mastery. This has been a long struggle to wrest the beginnings of a language from symptoms created to express experiences beyond language.

How can we convey this new language to readers? This Introduction is the first of five editorial segments describing the stages in the intellectual voyage that brought us to our present approaches to this material. In the Editors' Comments on Part I, "The Body Speaks," we describe the strange bodily symptoms in traumatized individuals that first drew our attention to these problems and quote directly from our patients as they have tried to convey to us their experiences in this inarticulate realm. In "The Body Silenced" (Part II), we share some of the reading and historical research into which we were propelled as we tried to answer our own and our patients' questions about the traumatized body, questions already asked in detail in the nineteenth century. The societal silencing of certain aspects of these questions and their answers comes into clear focus when we look at JeanMartin Charcot and his students in the Salpétriére, but it is a tendency toward silence that we are still struggling with a century later. Part III's Editors' Comments, "The Body in the Mirror," recounts theoretical and clinical aspects of our quest, as we explored psychoanalytic, trauma and attachment theories for concepts that would express and illuminate the intrapsychic experience that links the traumatic moment to the bodily symptom and that further links bodily experiences to the capacity to function ef

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