The President's Message 6/19/23

Why do individuals sometimes feel the urge to deny traumatic events they have experienced? How can acknowledging and proclaiming traumatic experiences help in the process of healing and overcoming trauma?

Ms. Quadai Palmer

6/19/20232 min read

“The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma.” –Judith Lewis Herman

In the realm of psychological trauma, there exists a profound conflict—a contentious struggle—that lies at the very core of our human experience. Judith Lewis Herman, a renowned authority in the field, captures this struggle succinctly with her poignant quote.

Traumatic events have an uncanny ability to shatter our sense of safety and stability, leaving us grappling with the aftermath.

At times, we find ourselves confronted with an overwhelming desire to deny the horrors we have endured. It is an instinctive self-protective mechanism, an attempt to shield ourselves from the unbearable pain and anguish that accompany such experiences.

Yet, within this will to deny, there lies another force—a powerful yearning to give voice to the unspeakable. To proclaim the truth, to share our stories, to break the suffocating silence. This is the counterbalance to denial, an inherent need to acknowledge and expose the traumatic events that have shaped our lives.

The clash between these two opposing forces is not a gentle one. It is a contentious debate—a perpetual struggle between the instinct to bury our pain and the desire to confront it head-on. This conflict can manifest within individuals, as they grapple with their own internal battles. It can also reverberate throughout society, where collective denial and societal silence often compound the wounds of trauma.

Recognizing the psychological trauma is essential for both individuals and communities seeking healing and growth. It requires acknowledging the complexities of our emotions and narratives, as well as embracing the discomfort that accompanies the process of confronting our painful experiences.

By embracing it, we can begin to dismantle the barriers that hinder our ability to heal. We can create spaces where survivors feel empowered to share their stories, where trauma is met with compassion and understanding, and where denial gives way to acknowledgment.

Herman's profound words remind us of the transformative power that lies within the act of proclaiming our experiences aloud. In doing so, we challenge the silence, shed light on the shadows, and pave the way for a collective journey towards healing. In the face of trauma, let us strive to navigate this struggle with empathy, resilience, and a commitment to truth. Only then can we begin to unravel the complexities of our past and embark on a path towards reclaiming our present and future.