The Indescribable and the Undiscussable
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 and discourse.
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.
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