Surviving

As the child of a psychology professor and a social worker, the language of trauma and healing comes naturally to me. It is a surprise sometimes to discover how recent certain concepts are. In an obituary from the New York Times, I learned that Henry Krystal’s 1965 paper on his observations of the lasting effects of the Holocaust identified the experience of survivor guilt: a sense of obligation to those who have died so strong that it seems disrespectful to enjoy life.

Social scientists who listen deeply to the human experience of pain need a lot of patience - with the slow unfolding of difficult stories, with the burden of knowing the worst side of humanity, and with the rest of us who often don’t want to hear what they have learned. Their work helps create new paths to healing, and also helps prevent future trauma by teaching us how to foster resilience. For a more recent example of a scholar doing this important work, you can watch this November 2014 talk by Kristen Renwick Munroe from our archives. Munroe has developed a body of scholarship on resilience in times of war, and in this project passes her skills on to the next generation by training undergraduate  listen with empathy and analyze the stories they have heard.

 

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