Non-sexy post: warning. Don’t click through if you don’t want to read about trauma.
For a confluence of reasons, I’ve been thinking a lot about trauma lately. This has to do both with events in my life, events in the lives of others, and unrelated, and coincidental, factors of my day-to-day existence.
I just finished The Unsayable, by Annie Rogers. I’ll oversimplify radically by saying that the author is, herself, a survivor of childhood trauma, and as an adult became a psychoanalyst specializing in working with young girls who survived trauma.
The book is haunting, horrifying, and illuminating. It’s not accessible – though she’s a lucid and compelling writer, there’s only so much you can do with Lacanian theory to make it accessible, and ultimately, this is her project, to apply Lacanian psychoanalytic theory to the phenomenon of childhood trauma.
Rogers’s experience, understanding, and deconstruction of the ways in which her childhood trauma manifested, bodily, in her adolescent and adult life, coupled with her exquisitely sensitive, gentle, patient work with children helped me to understand far better than I had before the repetition compulsion to which we all are more or less prone. I’m familiar, in my own life, with the seemingly inexplicable tendency I have to repeat enormously painful events (and, in particular, the experience of perceived rejection/abandonment by women), and I’ve seen not just in me, but in virtually all of those I love, similar tendencies toward recreating, reliving, reconstructing – in shockingly, unimaginably faithful ways – our absolute worst traumas.
Somehow, though, reading the examples Rogers cites in her book, of children reenacting horrifying traumas seemingly unthinkingly, unknowingly, and yet perfectly faithfully, brings home the intense power, the gravitational pull, of this repetition compulsion.
If trauma interests you, if Lacan interests you, I recommend this book. And if there are books on the subject that you recommend, I hope you’ll let me know.