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Auerhahn, N. (2016). "I Could Eat You Up:" Philomela, Trauma, and Enactment. IJP Open, 3:78.

(2016). IJP Open, 3:78

"I Could Eat You Up:" Philomela, Trauma, and Enactment

Nanette Auerhahn

The following paper explores how trauma that is neither symbolized nor represented is made known to self and other. How do we tell ourselves and others what has happened to us when formulation is elusive and when knowing, making known, and being known bring terror? For instruction, we turn to the myth of Philomela and discover a paradigm for taking possession of traumatic knowledge via enactments that engage the other/therapist who feels with the survivor. The action in the story of Philomela turns around cannibalism which is shown to be an apt metaphor for visceral affective knowing and for recruitment of the body in the metabolization of trauma. Clinical examples illustrate the vicissitudes of trauma as it follows the path of action/enactment first and only then creation of a narrative.

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