Non-sexy post: warning. Don’t click through if you don’t want to read about trauma.

For a confluence of reasons, I’ve been thinking a lot about trauma lately. This has to do both with events in my life, events in the lives of others, and unrelated, and coincidental, factors of my day-to-day existence.

I just finished The Unsayable, by Annie Rogers. I’ll oversimplify radically by saying that the author is, herself, a survivor of childhood trauma, and as an adult became a psychoanalyst specializing in working with young girls who survived trauma.

The book is haunting, horrifying, and illuminating. It’s not accessible – though she’s a lucid and compelling writer, there’s only so much you can do with Lacanian theory to make it accessible, and ultimately, this is her project, to apply Lacanian psychoanalytic theory to the phenomenon of childhood trauma.

Rogers’s experience, understanding, and deconstruction of the ways in which her childhood trauma manifested, bodily, in her adolescent and adult life, coupled with her exquisitely sensitive, gentle, patient work with children helped me to understand far better than I had before the repetition compulsion to which we all are more or less prone. I’m familiar, in my own life, with the seemingly inexplicable tendency I have to repeat enormously painful events (and, in particular, the experience of perceived rejection/abandonment by women), and I’ve seen not just in me, but in virtually all of those I love, similar tendencies toward recreating, reliving, reconstructing – in shockingly, unimaginably faithful ways – our absolute worst traumas.

Somehow, though, reading the examples Rogers cites in her book, of children reenacting horrifying traumas seemingly unthinkingly, unknowingly, and yet perfectly faithfully, brings home the intense power, the gravitational pull, of this repetition compulsion.

If trauma interests you, if Lacan interests you, I recommend this book. And if there are books on the subject that you recommend, I hope you’ll let me know.


  1. As a survivor of severe childhood trauma, I’ll be looking into this. I can only say that the moment I left home for college I sought out therapy, as all my coping skills were failing me. I continued with therapy off and on(more on) for 20 plus years. This is the reason I’ve been able to move on, the only reason I believe.

  2. @nwmonkeygirl. Bless your strong courageous heart. I’m so sorry, I’m so proud of you.

    I worked in Child Protective Sevices too long. One day is too long. I’ve read Rogers but I don’t read anything about it any more. Too much horror was burned into myself.

    I certainly encourage anyone who’s experienced this to read, seek help and understanding. Seek the strength to look at what happened to you and know that it wasn’t you.

  3. Emen,
    Thank you for your kind words. I admire your strength to be able to do a job/career like that. I used to think I wanted to be a social worker because of my childhood experiences. However I found in college there would be no way I’d be able to separate their experiences from my own. Yes, it gives me the ability to empathise but it also levelled me emotionally.
    Thank you. And thank you N for the non sexy posts too.

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