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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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What the Living Did

What the Living Did

September 11 and Its Aftermath

(p.237) Chapter 13 What the Living Did
The Therapist in Mourning

Billie A. Pivnick

Columbia University Press

In this chapter, the author relates her experiences as a therapist in New York City on 9/11 and her subsequent involvement in the development of the memorial at the site of the Twin Towers. She describes her disorientation and dislocation on that day and her efforts to be present for her patients while simultaneously being bombarded by her own fears. She demonstrates how the events of 9/11 and her work with patients reawakened traumatic childhood memories of her own. She brings the reader in as a witness to these moments, pointing out that bearing witness to traumatic events is an essential part of the process of mourning and recovery. She views the therapeutic relationship as a means of opening up what she refers to as “memorial space,” creating a “metaphoric container—a safe space in which faint and dissociated memory traces can be etched more deeply; connected to other memories, feelings, and sensations; and then linked to symbolic meanings in imagistic or narrative form.” This idea of a memorial space parallels the middle-distance, a space that allows for integration and narrativization.

Keywords:   therapists, patients, 9/11, trauma, mourning, memorial space, middle-distance

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