Saturday, October 21, 2017
8:30am to 9:00am Registration
9:00am to 10:30am Presentation
My Personal Participation in a Grey Zone, Understanding Massive Psychic Trauma, Moral Ambiguity and Survival: Film’s Power to Inform and Contain
What is it like to understand and relate to individuals who have experienced massive psychic trauma, a form which requires participation in ignoble acts to survive? What are the effects on their children in their engagement with parents, siblings and the larger environment? Is there a remedy to the guilt and shame that come with this form of survival? In this paper, Dr. Neuwald tackles these questions theoretically but goes further to personally imagine these circumstances. She uses a film, The Grey Zone, based on an essay by Primo Levi in his book “Drowned and Saved” to probe into these questions.
Using this backdrop, Dr. Neuwald incorporates research by various theorists and philosophers including Georgio Agamben, Joerg Bose, Ghislaine Boulanger, Anna Freud, Heinz Kohut, Emily Kuriloff, Henry Krystal, Robert Lifton, Nancy McWilliams, Harvey Peskin and others to vividly describe this form of trauma. She identifies the losses faced by individuals in this situation and coping strategies they deploy in the face of unbelievable horror.
Dr. Neuwald then entertains this condition in her mind through the lens of her own immigrant family to discover and experience its impact. She confronts and thereby understands the emotional power contained in the intergenerational transmission of trauma. The second half of the paper suggests reparative actions again drawing on theory, the film, selective interviews as well as Dr. Neuwald’s own emotional engagement.