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The Therapist in MourningFrom the Faraway Nearby$
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Kerry Malawista and Anne Adelman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156998

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156998.001.0001

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Broken Promises, Shattered Dreams, Wordless Endings

Broken Promises, Shattered Dreams, Wordless Endings

(p.219) Chapter 12 Broken Promises, Shattered Dreams, Wordless Endings
The Therapist in Mourning

Sylvia J. Schneller

Columbia University Press

This chapter deals with Hurricane Katrina and the levee rupture that inundated the city of New Orleans in late August 2005. All members of the community, patient and therapist alike, experienced a shared trauma, a trauma some researchers describe as apocalyptic. The author relates her personal journey through the destruction and gradual rebuilding of her home and her clinical practice. With aching clarity, she describes losing contact with each and every one of her patients. While some patients eventually returned, the fate of many others remained unknown. She examines the spectrum of depression and anxiety one experiences in the face of a catastrophe. In its direct aftermath it is impossible to distinguish between an expectable and universal response to trauma on the one hand, and, on the other, the response of an individual suffering from post-traumatic-stress disorder. In the end it is clear that everyone, in one form or another, suffers the effects of overwhelming trauma. Her reflections reveal that, even as the process of rebuilding unfurls, the fragments of ruin remain.

Keywords:   therapists, patients, Hurricane Katrina, loss, clinical practice, depression, anxiety, trauma

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