An interview with Bob Stains of the Public Conversations Project about the use of restraints on patients in mental hospitals. He discusses facilitating a series of conversations in which both the workers who apply restraints and the people to whom restraints have been applied are able to talk about their experiences [Read more…]
An interview with Professor Lawrence L Langer about his book, Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory. Professor Langer describes his own difficulty trying to imagine what it must have been like stand in a gas chamber facing death. He developed courses on the literature of atrocity to try and help people find a way to imagine this experience. He describes stories that survivors have told him, stories of such horror that the teller literally became speechless in trying to communicate. He states the importance for listeners in not judging survivors for what they had to do and not do, in situations of “choiceless choice.” One of the many ways that survivors suffer, is their own internal judgment for ways they were unable to protect and save their own loved ones. He tells of the challenges survivors face in trying to communicate their experiences in ways the listener can bear, will not be damaged by, and can begin to understand.
An interview with author Art Frank about telling stories about illness. Art describes his own experience with an early heart attack and later cancer. He describes the way the medical world can be oblivious to the patient’s needs and subjective experience. He talks about the importance of finding your own voice after your body has been colonized by treatment. He offered examples of the ways that medical professionals can connect more personally with the stories of their patients. He also describes ways that it is both difficult and imperative that we learn to stay present with difficult stories of illness, our own, and those of others. Art’s book is The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness and Ethics.
An interview with author and social psychologist, Jamie Pennebaker about his research into the benefits of confiding painful experiences. Jamie discovered that childhood traumas resulted in far greater long term health and psychological difficulties if they were not confided in others. He suggests that one of the reasons that childhood sexual abuse may be so destructive, is because it is so often kept secret. He describes experiments where people are invited to write for 20 minutes each day for four days about their most emotionally troubling experience. In study after study, the writers who are able to explore the depth of their emotions and express different perspectives on the event tend to show health benefits years after the experiment. He also describes new research into how our unknowing use of pronouns in speech reveals a great deal about our personalities, preferences and relational compatibility.
An interview with Dr. Diane Morrow about writing and healing. Diane describes the ways that writing was healing for her in coping with her mother’s severe depression. But she also talks about how writing can be healing as a process or ritual in itself, how writing fiction can be create enough distance from pain to allow the listener to resonate with it. Diane describes the way that the blank page itself may be the best listener to a difficult story, and the painful need to let go of our longing for a specific person to hear our difficult stories.