Anna Gotlibis: Trauma unmakes the world of the self. Can stories repair it?

Vox Populi

Humanbeings are storytellingcreatures: we spin narratives in order to construct our world. Whether on the cave walls of Lascaux or the golden record stored on theVoyagerspacecraft, we want to share our selves and what matters to us through words, actions, even silence. Self-making narratives create the maps of the totality of our physical reality and experiences – or, as philosophers sometimes say, of thelifeworldsthat we inhabit. And just as narratives can create worlds, they can also destroy them.

Trauma, in its many guises, has been part of these narratives since time immemorial, often by shattering the topographies of our lifeworlds. Breaking our most fundamental, most taken-for-granted means of self-understanding, it replaces our familiar narratives with something dreadful, something uncanny, sometimes something unspeakable.

What is trauma? Rather than just fear or guilt or unwanted memories, trauma is a totalising force that unmakes our worlds, leading to…

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