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Talking about Childhood Trauma

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The term Childhood Trauma refers to traumatic events or incidents that an individual experienced as a child. Childhood trauma often ranges; and, it is usually associated with violence. Some of the violence-related childhood trauma may include: child abuse (or neglect), assault, and rape; or other forms of violence-related causes of childhood trauma may be due to natural disaster (such as tornado, tsunami, and earthquake) and war; these experiences would often leave both physical and mental scaring on the child. Other types of childhood trauma that may associated with experiences of accidents (i.e. surviving a car accident), or sometimes, the loss of a family member such as grandparents due to old age, or parents due to accident or illness, and even sometimes the child’s own experience of battling through an illness could also be traumatic to experience.

So, let us begin by looking back into our childhood, and start with a few questions: Have you had a traumatic experience as a child? How did the experience or incident make you feel, and has the traumatic experiences that you had as a child shaped or changed the way you are now as an adult? For me to answering those questions, the first would be that I can pick out two traumatic experiences I had, and they are: 1). My experience of almost getting hit by a car while crossing the street; and 2). My experience with hospitalization, surgery, and medical equipment. Both of these events taught me important life lessons that I probably would never forget, especially with the first incident, because it taught me to always remind myself that no matter what I do, I should always consider safety-first, and that I should ALWAYS follow traffic signal when crossing the street. And also, just because others could get away from something, it doesn’t mean I should risk my life to do the same. As for the second experience, it’s traumatic because children are usually sensitive to hospitals and doctors, and exposing to medical equipment (I was very sensitive to the hospital environment as a child, especially when I got sick a lot back then), and it did cause a lot of stress and trauma on me. But from constantly getting sick and fighting through my illnesses, it taught me to stay strong; and this sense of wanting to live and survive whatever is in my way has definitely grow stronger as I get older.

Rue Ordener Rue Labat
Photo Description: Book Cover of Sarah Kofman’s Memoir-Rue Ordener Rue Labat.  A black lamppost in a greyish purple background.  

But for this blog, it isn’t just about my experiences with childhood trauma, but I brought this up because I want to introduce to you a memoir that I read recently titled Rue Ordener Rue Labat by Sarah Kofman. Sarah Kofman was a French philosopher born in Paris. Kofman wrote Rue Ordener Rue Labat in which depicted a traumatic experience that Kofman experienced as a child where she witnessed her father (the rabbi of a Jewish synagogue) being taken away by the police from his family home and he was never returned. It all happened during the period of German occupation. Soon after the family never heard a word from the father, they had to go in hide, just to avoid of being taken away. Young Kofman and her mother took refuge at a Christian woman’s home on Rue Labat. The woman, in which she requested Kofman to call her Mémé. However, Mémé had taken every opportunity to try and assimilate young Kofman, not only through food, but also through clothing. Slowly but surely, Kofman developed a strong bound and attachment with Mémé, she even claimed that at times, she felt that she liked Mémé more than her own mother. But this strong relationship between Mémé and young Kofman bothered her mother; and it also created a barrier and revolt between Kofman and her mother when she’d prohibited young Kofman from visiting Mémé. The memoir was very emotional and touching to read, because its a realistic depiction of childhood trauma, not only the trauma of losing one’s father, but also the trauma of the conflict and struggle that young Kofman had gone through between her and her mother because of Mémé.

Image Caption: Painting of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” (1893)

Finally, I want to end with two paintings that I think  they ‘represent’ Sarah Kofman’s Memoir-Rue Ordener Rue Labat, and the paintings are “The Scream” and “Despair” by artist Edvard Munch. The reason why I chose these two paintings is because I think both paintings speak to the theme of Trauma. The way how The Scream speaks to Trauma is

Image Caption: Painting of Edvard Munch’s “Despair” (1892)

how I think that most traumatic experiences are scary, and it’d often make people want to scream, also because trauma always causes suffering and pain that would make people want to scream. And, as for the painting “Despair,” I think it also speaks to the theme of Trauma because traumatic event or experience would sometimes leave people feeling a sense of despair, very much emotionally.

By: The Invisible Vision Project


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