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Hoover, S.R. (2005). Discussion of Barbara S. Kane's “Transforming Trauma into Tragedy”. Psychoanal. Rev., 92(6):957-962.
  

(2005). Psychoanalytic Review, 92(6):957-962

Discussion of Barbara S. Kane's “Transforming Trauma into Tragedy”

Suzanne R. Hoover

The first time I read this paper, I had some of the same feelings I had had watching Edgar, his voice disguised, leading his father, the blinded Gloucester, to the Dover cliffs, in King Lear. Because Edgar has been (falsely) accused of plotting to kill his father, he cannot reveal himself; Gloucester would feel too endangered. The old Duke was manipulated, earlier, by his “bad” son, and was blind to the love of this, his “good” son. But Edgar's heart is breaking, now, for his broken father. He feels pity and terror for the old man's fate. We suffer with him his unspoken, anguished, helpless love.

One senses that Barbara Kane's extraordinary paper was written out of the impulse to help, such as one might feel for a beloved friend, or family member—or patient—who is in terrible trouble and unable to get out of it alone. It is as if she is saying, “Allow me to try to understand the difficulty with you—and especially, how it happened to you—so that then, together, we might see what can be done about it. This may mean having to face unpleasant truths. It may even mean taking responsibility for actions of your own that may be shameful. But the purpose of our inquiry together, our exploration, is not to blame. It is to enable you to understand your own experience. Then your truth-facing and responsibility-taking will be in the service of growing out of the trouble and leaving it behind.” I read this paper as a gesture of deepest compassion toward the suffering participants, made in the faith that change is possible.

Kane's inspired and terrifying analogy here, between Israel's story and the story of Oedipus, makes (what she takes to be) the tragedy of Israel somehow more “visible.”

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