chapter  3
12 Pages

The “Anti-Train”: A Metaphor for Witnessing: Nancy R. Goodman


When trying to grasp the realities of the Holocaust and of all mass trauma, a witnessing process is essential to allow the story to enter one’s mind and to be able to hold on to one’s sanity. A force, an anti-trauma force, is needed to counter the overwhelming impact felt when facing absolutely horrifying events. There must be a belief that there is a receiver of the story, internal or external, who will be unwavering in listening and will accept its truth. This is necessary as well for development of a witnessing process in psychoanalytic therapies when facing terrors in the mind, and I thank my patients for teaching me in depth about this. I develop here a metaphor, the “Anti-Train,” to represent the power of witnessing. You are invited to enter this place as you also become a witness and join with others. In my descriptions, you will ƒnd a special location for partnership and valuing of ƒnding out what happened and how the stories can be told. As a symbol, the features of the Anti-Train embody the attributes put forth in Chapter 1 considered essential for creation of witnessing: the desire to know, holding, containing, and absorbing of the inevitable annihilation terror.