chapter  23
15 Pages

Trauma, Therapy, and Witnessing: Marilyn B. Meyers


In this chapter, I link our conceptualization of the power of witnessing to the therapeutic encounter. I emphasize the creation of an atmosphere in which the therapist is a willing witness to moments of trauma. When speaking of trauma, we are faced with specifying an adequate and speciƒc means of deƒning what we mean. The dictionary deƒnition of psychic trauma is “a disordered psychological or behavioral state resulting from mental or emotional stress or physical injury.” In light of the increasingly broad use of trauma as applied to virtually every aspect of life, I intend to restrict the deƒnition to the feelings of utter helplessness, annihilation terror, despair, and failure to be seen as a worthwhile human being as represented by the Holocaust. That is not to suggest that the Holocaust alone “qualiƒes” for this deƒnition, but rather that it represents the extreme psychological aftermath of unspeakable atrocities.