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Lipton, J. (2019). Constructing Trauma’s Narratives in the Later Years: Aging and the Life Review. Contemp. Psychoanal., 55(3):147-163.

(2019). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 55(3):147-163

Original Articles

Constructing Trauma’s Narratives in the Later Years: Aging and the Life Review

Joan Lipton, Ph.D.

This article discusses contrasting patterns of familial communication to show that trauma can be either mitigated and transformed or instead transmitted among generations. The author describes her father-in-law’s storytelling as a means of processing and sharing his early traumas with his family, and contrasts it with her own experience in which family secrets and denials prevailed and traumas were evoked and enacted. When elders engage in life review and share their stories with younger generations, they can metabolize their traumas and promote healing throughout their lifespan. Thus, resilience and other strengths can be transmitted across generations. It is posited that some people are able to work through traumas when they are older adults. Ghosts that were frightening may seem less ominous when people are nearer to accepting life’s transience.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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