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Frawley-O'Dea, M.G. (2005). 9/11: What do We Call it? How do We Work with it?: Response to Elizabeth Goren and Michael Clifford. Psychoanal. Perspect., 2(2):67-74.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 2(2):67-74

9/11: What do We Call it? How do We Work with it?: Response to Elizabeth Goren and Michael Clifford

Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea, Ph.D.

It is a pleasure to respond to Liz Goren's and Michael Clifford's discussions of my 9/11 article. I appreciate the depth and care with which they reacted to my ideas. Here, I want to focus on two themes addressed by both authors, and then I will tackle a few ideas unique to each paper.

Both Liz and Michael question encapsulating the clinical and community impacts of 9/11 within a trauma model. Liz says, “I think that the concept of trauma was functioning even more fundamentally for psychoanalysts themselves as a psychological life raft on 9/11, as something, an idea to grab hold of, a way to organize the extremity and extraordinariness of the distress that everyone was experiencing at the time.” Similarly, Michael suggests that I assumed that 9/11 was experienced as traumatic by everyone and states that, to the contrary, he was not traumatized and he knows others who did not experience that day as traumatic.

These comments brought me up short, as I immediately grasped that these analysts were onto something that never caught my attention. I wish it had. Especially in my case, thinking in trauma terms was comfortingly familiar. I have worked in the field of psychological trauma for almost twenty years. Not only is a trauma model reassuringly familiar to me, but I have achieved recognition within psychoanalysis as an expert on the topic.

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