International Journal of
English and Literature

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. English Lit.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2626
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJEL
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 278

Article in Press

The possibilities of narrative: A theoretical review of how we can read and write our way through psychological trauma

Samantha, L. H. Denney

  •  Received: 22 July 2014
  •  Accepted: 11 December 2015
This article details the possibility of overcoming psychological trauma through reading, writing and the process of bearing witness. The research covered describes the history and anatomy of trauma including an analysis on how trauma affects memory. The research provides insight into how narrative transforms implicit memory into explicit memory through creating a narrative of the traumatic experience. Finding that the true possibilities of happiness after trauma are discovered through the creation of a new life narrative; this traumatic narrative assigns meaning to the experience. Once meaning has been assigned the victim then has transformed the implicit (sensory) memory into the explicit (anecdotal) memory. This transition of memory from the nervous system or the senses into language provides a space for metacognition. Metacognition is important because it allows the victim to reflect upon their experience and understand why their body becomes hyper-aroused. The argument put forth in this article is that metacognition and the process of bearing witness play an imperative role in structuring the trauma narrative. The role of witness becomes increasingly important as the outside objective position of the reader / witness provides validation of the victim’s traumatic experience, and instills a connection to others who bear witness to the victim’s story

Keywords: Trauma, narrative, composition, reading, bearing witness, writing.