By Rebecca Coffey
Chosen as one of 1998’s Outstanding Academic Books by Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries. “In a word, this book is powerful!…A thoughtful and compassionate discussion of trauma therapy that demonstrates how sensitive listening to traumatic stories can make them more bearable for the narrators. One of the important books written on trauma in this decade.” -L.S. Beall, Choice, July/August 1998
For survivors of all kinds of extreme human cruelty — street crime, family violence, sexual assault, incest, war, political terror, Holocaust — and for survivors’ therapists, friends, and family.
Centered on a narrative core of electrifying survivor testimony, Unspeakable Truths and Happy Endings balances survivors’ tales with commentary by experts in and skeptics of specialized trauma therapy. By doing so, it provokes readers to confront questions such as the following:
For survivors’ therapists, friends, and family:
“Can we overcome our own fears and prejudices about violence and victims enough to talk and listen? Can we maintain critical thinking without resorting to critical behavior? Can we hear the moral complexities of what the survivor may have suffered? Can we risk imagining it all happening to us? And if we insist on expecting victims to ascend like Phoenixes from the ashes, can we at least provide them a stable base from which to rise?”
“What, at a minimum, should I expect from a therapist? What, at a minimum, should a therapist do to meet those expectations? How far can I trust my version of reality? How far can I trust my therapist’s version? What does the controversy about disinterred memories of childhood trauma imply for me in my selection of a therapist? What is recovery from psychological trauma? And how will I know when I have achieved it?”
Unspeakable Truths and Happy Endings recounts the tales of fifteen survivors of catastrophic human cruelty. It balances those tales with commentary by mental health experts and social critics about the healing potential of listening and listeners. Equally importantly, Unspeakable Truths and Happy Endings traces the progress made by its author in learning to listen well to tales of trauma. These three threads — survivor tales, expert commentary, and author’s journey — together bring a refreshing slant to the controversies about recovered memory. Unspeakable Truths resoundingly illuminates both the necessity and difficulty of compassionate, sensible listening.
Number of Pages: 240