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Trauma and Forgiveness
Consequences and Communities

AUD$45.95 inc GST

  • Date Published: November 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107626607

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About the Authors
  • Contrary to the view of trauma popularized by literary theorists, Trauma and Forgiveness argues that the traumatized are capable of representing their experience and that we should therefore listen more and theorize less. Using stories and case studies, including testimonies from Holocaust survivors, as well as the victims of 'ordinary' trauma, C. Fred Alford shows that, while the traumatized are generally capable of representing their experience, this does little to heal them. He draws on the British Object Relations tradition in psychoanalysis to argue that forgiveness, which might be expected to help heal the traumatized, is generally an attempt to avoid the hard work of mourning losses that can never be made whole. Forgiveness is better seen as a virtue in the classical sense, a recognition of human vulnerability. The book concludes with an extended case study of the essayist Jean Améry and his refusal to forgive.

    • Challenges the widely held view that the traumatized are incapable of representing their own experience
    • Criticizes the prevalence of a 'forgiveness culture' as a means of self-healing
    • Argues that trauma may be seen as a group experience and can be discussed as a political phenomenon
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book is a gem - a profound, eloquent, and memorable meditation on the ravages of trauma and the vicissitudes of forgiveness.' Marshall Alcorn, George Washington University

    'Through fascinating case studies, Trauma and Forgiveness challenges our most basic assumptions. Alford questions whether the experience of trauma is, as many believe, inaccessible to those traumatized or whether such experiences might constitute an ethical knowledge to which the traumatized are caught in an unwanted attachment.' Paul Hoggett, University of the West of England

    'This book is remarkably successful in distilling and presenting the debate and its many entangled strands. It takes us on a journey through the many contemporary writings on forgiveness of philosophers, psychologists and contemporary historical commentators.' R. D. Hinshelwood, Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107626607
    • length: 230 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 150 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.35kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: trauma and forgiveness
    2. Is the Holocaust traumatic?
    3. Winnicott and trauma
    4. Melanie Klein and forgiveness: theory
    5. Melanie Klein and forgiveness: practice
    6. Winnicott: forgiveness and transitional experience
    7. Jean Améry: resentment, loneliness, and aging
    8. Conclusion: trauma as knowledge.

  • Author

    C. Fred Alford, University of Maryland, College Park
    C. Fred Alford is Professor of Government and Politics and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is author of over fifteen books on moral psychology, including After the Holocaust (2009) and Psychology and the Natural Law of Reparation (2006).

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