The Indescribable and the Undiscussable
Reconstructing Human Discourse after Trauma
Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheva
People--laymen and practitioners alike--face serious
difficulties in making sense of each other's feelings,
behavior, and discourse in everyday life and after traumatic
experiences. Acknowledging and working through these
difficulties is the subject of this extremely interesting
and highly readable book.
After a critical look at the psychological and philosophical
literature, Dan Bar-On identifies two groups of impediments.
First, the indescribable, as it appears when individuals
try to understand and integrate their first heart attack
into their previous life-experience, when a group of
pathfinders talk about their different maps of the mind
and nature, or when a team of welfare practitioners
tries to develop a common approach to their regional
population. Second, the undiscussable, as it appears
in the transmission, from generation to generation,
of the traumatic experiences of the families of both
Holocaust survivors and Nazi perpetrators, the book
showing how their descendants can work through the burden
of the past by confronting themselves and each other
through a prolonged group encounter.
This book provides a unique way of looking at life
experiences, individual as well as inter-personal. It
proposes a new psychological theoretical framework in
a way to which both laymen and professionals can relate
while confronting similar issues in their everyday experiences
The book is of especial relevance to present-day Central
and East European societies, relating as it does to
the problems of psychological adaptation arising from
the transition from totalitarian to democratic regimes.
"I was put in mind in reading this amazing book
by Dan Bar-on of a truly great painting, one that can
make you cry while also puzzling you and demanding from
you every ounce of wisdom even to begin to understand.
Bar-On is never hesitant to re-examine (and have others
critique) his own interpretations. By making his own
reflections vulnerable to criticism and revision he
sheds light on how his "subjects" did or did
not accomplish the same and thereby may teach the willing
reader this most important of skills". - Amazon
(from a reader's
"The first chapter of Bar-on's book in itself
makes the book worth reading. This is the story of three
Israeli soldiers and a Bedouin partner finding their
way in an uncharted desert terrain, each with a different
strategy. The story and its analysis is a stunning and
amazingly explicit example of different perspectives,
how each of the individuals learn to understand and
appreciate one another, and most of all to recognize
when each view is most useful depending on the situation.
I highly recommend the book if only for this one chapter--there's
nothing like it". - Amazon (from a reader's
Introduction. Part 1: Indescribable: 'soft'
impediments to discourse - Multiple representations,
Subjective theories of cardiac patients, Negotiating
attributions, Feeling-facts Interlude: Pure and
impure ideologies Part 2: Severe impediments
to discourse - Silenced facts from victimizer's perspective,
silenced facts from the victims' perspective, My father
and I, psychological learning from experience Epilogue.
ISBN 978-963-9116-34-4 cloth $49.95 / €42.95 /
ISBN 978-963-9116-33-7 paperback $22.95 / €19.95