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Mucci, C. (2017). Listening to Trauma: Conversations with Leaders in the Theory and Treatment of Catastrophic Experience edited by Cathy Caruth Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2014; 392 pp; $24.95. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(1):262-266.
(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(1):262-266
Listening to Trauma: Conversations with Leaders in the Theory and Treatment of Catastrophic Experience edited by Cathy Caruth Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2014; 392 pp; $24.95
Review by: Clara Mucci
In this extraordinary enterprise, Cathy Caruth achieves what is by definition an impossibility: making familiar the unfamiliar country of trauma, the place of displacementpar excellence; the lieu of an ‘erasure’, as Dori Laub would say, where language is at a loss and a new language struggles to be heard, thanks to the construction of a new channel created by the very act and presence of a totally committed listening.
But Caruth is not alone; she is in the precious company of renowned theoreticians, clinicians, and survivors of trauma who take the reader on a walk along a path where it is possible, with the right sensitivity and an extreme ethical commitment, to arrive at the ‘undiscovered country’ of a new political awareness, through the apparently simple act of giving voice to questions going beyond definition and inquiry. As in psychotherapy with survivors, what is needed is ‘simply’ a real presence, an act of listening, a stance that enables an encounter with a true companion, making possible a reconnection with a meaningful web of metaphorization, verbalization, in a word, a reconnection with the unspeakable within and without.
If it is impossible in a few pages to do justice to the intellectual and ethical experience of the volume, I would at least sketch only a few of the radical and fundamental questions Caruth poses in her restless and challenging dialogues with powerful thinkers that constitute the bulk of this volume. Each of
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