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Gould, E. (2017). Introductory remarks: “I saw things human beings should never see”. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 26(3):137-138.

(2017). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 26(3):137-138


Introductory remarks: “I saw things human beings should never see”

Edith Gould

A patient whose apartment terrace faced the Twin Towers wept as she tried to recount the horror of the 9/11 attack. We sat together, each of us immersed and reeling in our mutual struggle to grapple with the traumatic immensity of what we had both witnessed, only two weeks earlier.

The morning that I had heard the first news report that a “small plane” had crashed into the World Trade Center, I ran up to the roof of my building, where the towers were in full view, 10 blocks further downtown. Thick plumes of black smoke were billowing out of the upper floors of the North tower, a terrifying and ominous insult to the brilliant blue, cloudless sky of that morning. Ironically, it was the kind of weather pilots refer to as “severe clear,” unlimited visibility. I muttered, “An accident like this was inevitable. The buildings are just too high,” and a friend standing nearby, turned and said, “That’s no accident, that’s terrorism!”

Terrorism! The word itself felt like an assault, a piercing of consciousness. That word, and that catastrophic event, marked the end of an era, one of those catalytic, transitional moments in history that instantly created a “pre and post,” a before and after. September 11th, 2001 went from being an ordinary balmy, sparkling, blue-sky day, just a date, to a forever-after infamous and heinous killing of 2996 people. It became 9/11. And 9/11, the event, heralded terrorism as a new normal for America.

[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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