September 19, 2017
"Trauma and the Opacity of the Narrating “I” in the Holocaust Video Testimony of Bessie K." with Johanna Bodenstab, Ph.D.
In this video testimony, the “bundle” Bessie K. refers to is her baby boy, who was taken away from her during a selection. This presentation will trace both her active struggle to form a narrative as well as the way in which her trauma unconsciously shapes her narrative. The disparity between the survivor’s narrating “I” and her remembered self forms a narrative structure capable of representing the traumatic aspects of the selection experience, even though the trauma of the very experience cannot be expressed explicitly.
A second approach to an understanding of this trauma narrative is via the transferential dynamics stirred in the recipient. By paying close attention to her emotional responses, the recipient of the testimony is registering unconsciously transmitted content of the video testimony, which can be understood as manifestations of non-symbolized aspects of traumatic experience. Ultimately a biographical and historical contextualization are offered, which create context and connections the traumatized survivor herself cannot make.
New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute
247 East 82nd Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)
The Marianne & Nicholas Young Auditorium