March 4, 2014
P.T.S.D.-Cause and Cure
Posttraumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder, which may occur after an individual has undergone extreme emotional trauma that involved the threat of injury or death. The cause is unmistakable. For those individuals of Jewish decent in Europe during the early to mid 20th century, the Holocaust was deemed the leading source for PTSD. In a world full of pain and suffering, torture, rape, malnutrition, disease, filth, death-in a world full of darkness, it becomes extremely arduous to distance oneself from an inescapable reality. The trauma left many silent, some by death, others because they felt language had betrayed them. Language simply seemed insufficient to express the horrors the victims experienced while encompassed in "darkness". What words could possibly describe the reality of the experiences? Words themselves became suspected, doubted. For many, silence overcame their story, and they took it to their grave.
This was not the case for the old woman in And The Rat Laughed. In Nava Semel's, And The Rat Laughed, the old woman successively alleviates the pain from her traumatic reality by resorting to the art of story telling.
The cure, according to psychiatrists, is psychotherapy, or "talk" therapy. The kind of psychotherapy seen in And The Rat Laughed is exposure therapy, and it involves using mental imagery, writing and/or revisiting the event where the trauma occurred in order to reduce the fear associated with the trauma.
After a long life of silence, the old woman struggles to contain the pain, and against much resistance (supplied by her own will), she acquiesces to a request from her granddaughter asking her to recount the truth of her survival story. However, the storytelling does not begin instantaneously. The first page of the novel...