The answer, as deftly illustrated by Nancy Goodman and Marilyn Meyers, lies in the power of witnessing: the act of acknowledging that trauma took place, coupled with the desire to share that knowledge with others to build a space in which to reveal, confront, and symbolize it. As the contributors to this book demonstrate, testimonial writing and memoir, artwork, poetry, documentary, theater, and even the simple recollection of a memory are ways that honor and serve as forms of witnessing. Each chapter is a fusion of narrative and metaphor that exists as evidence of the living mind that emerges amid the dead spaces produced by mass trauma, creating a revelatory, transformational space for the terror of knowing and the possibility for affirmation of hope, courage, and endurance in the face of almost unspeakable evil. Additionally, the power of witnessing is extended from the Holocaust to contemporary instances of mass trauma and to psychoanalytic treatments, proving its efficacy in the dyadic relationship of everyday practice for both patient and analyst.
The Holocaust is not an easy subject to approach, but the intimate and personal stories included here add up to an act of witnessing in and of itself, combining the past and the present and placing the trauma in the realm of knowing, sharing, and understanding.
Contributors: Harriet Basseches, Elsa Blum, Bridget Conley-Zilkic, Paula Ellman, Susan Elmendorf, George Halasz, Geoffrey Hartman, Renee Hartman, Elaine Neumann Kulp-Shabad, Dori Laub, Clemens Loew, Gail Humphries Mardirosian, Margit Meissner, Henri Parens, Arlene Kramer Richards, Arnold Richards, Sophia Richman, Katalin Roth, Nina Shapiro-Perl, Myra Sklarew, Ervin Staub.
Table of Contents
Goodman, Meyers, Introduction. Part I: A Triptych of the Power of Witnessing. Goodman, The Power of Witnessing. Meyers, Historic and Psychic Timeline: Opening and Closing the Space for Witnessing. Goodman, The “Anti-Train”: A Metaphor for Witnessing. Part II: Reflections. Laub, Testimony as Life Experience and Legacy. Hartman, G., A Note on the Testimony Event. Parens, A Holocaust Survivor’s Bearing Witness. Richman, “Too Young to Remember”: Recovering and Integrating the Unacknowledged Known. Part III: Reverberations. Sklarew, Leiser’s Song. Halasz, Psychological Witnessing of My Mother’s Holocaust Testimony. Hartman, R., Bergen-Belsen 2009. Roth, Miklós: A Memoir of My Father. Meissner, The Power of Memorable Moments. Meyers, The Defiant Requiem: Acts of Witnessing. Kulp-Shabad, One Thousand Days in Auschwitz: Joseph Neumann and the Will to Live. Loew, My Lost Father. Meyers, The Shadow of Shira. Part IV: Traces. Richards, A. K., Blood: Reading the Holocaust. Shapiro-Perl, Through the Eye of the Needle: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz: Witnessing the Witness through Filmmaking. Blum, A Photographic Commentary on the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Goodman, Opening the Mind to Trauma through Oscillations of Focus: Learning from the Film Schindler’s List. Humphries Mardirosian, Giving Voice to the Silenced through Theater. Richards, A., Witnessing the Death of Yiddish Language and Culture: Holes in the Doorposts. Part V: Links. Meyers, Trauma, Therapy, and Witnessing. Goodman, Basseches, Ellman, & Elmendorf, “We’re in This Too”: The Effects of 9/11 on Transference, Countertransference, and Technique. Conley-Zilkic, What Do You Want? On Witnessing Genocide Today. Goodman, Meyers, Interview with Ervin Staub.
Nancy R. Goodman, Ph.D., is a Training and Supervising Analyst with the New York Freudian Society (Washington, DC Program) and the International Psychoanalytic Association. She writes on female development, analytic listening, Holocaust trauma and witnessing, film and psychoanalysis, enactments, and sadomasochism. Her most recent publications include “Enactment: Opportunity for Symbolizing Trauma” (Ellman & Goodman, 2011) and “Nancy Goodman Wonders What Is Normal in Myth and Psychic Reality” (2010); she is currently working on Battling the Life and Death Forces in Sadomasochism: Theoretical and Clinical Perspectives (Karnac, 2013; with Harriet Basseches and Paula Ellman). She maintains a full-time psychoanalytic practice in Bethesda, Maryland.
Marilyn B. Meyers, Ph.D., is on the faculty of the Washington School of Psychiatry, where she teaches and supervises in the postgraduate program. She is President of the Section on Couples and Families of the Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the APA, and has a longstanding interest in working with Holocaust survivors and their children. Her publications include “When the Holocaust Haunts the Couple: Hope, Guilt and Survival” (2005) in Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Couple Work, and “Am I My Mother’s Keeper? Certain Vicissitudes in the Mother-Daughter Relationship Concerning Envy” (1988) in The Mother-Daughter Relationship. In addition, she has presented papers on the use of film to illustrate the aftermath of massive trauma. She maintains a private practice where she sees individuals and couples.