explicit memory Articles

The Death of Bin Laden: Looking Backwards to Heal Forwards

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

feelings about Bin Laden's deathThe news of Bin Laden’s death has erupted on national and international levels in a mix of feelings. Attached to the thrill of justice served and military courage recognized are shadows of fear and the pain of catastrophic loss.

For survivors and the thousands who lost so many loved ones on 9/11 this is not only long awaited news, it is a déjà vu of that September day.

Once again there are ongoing calls of condolence and remembrances, non-stop media reports, and the visceral pain of losing a Dad, a child, a partner, a firefighter, a friend, a community, and the illusion of safety.

What Does this Mean for Emotional Healing?

It Invites Revisiting:

Highly charged events like Bin Laden’s Death are quite likely to trigger traumatic memories that unlike ordinary explicit memory for daily events are encoded under fight/flight conditions in those centers of the brain dealing with sensations and emotion. They can be sequestered for years – untold, intrusive as nightmares and flashbacks, haunting but never integrated into the story of one’s life.  While this event might trigger pain, it may offer an opportunity to bear witness, to share and transform traumatic memories.


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Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP & Dianne Kane, DSW are the authors of Healing Together: A Couple's Guide to Coping with Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress. Pick up the book today!

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