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Curative Fictions: The 'Narrative Cure' in Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery and Chantal Chawaf’s Le Manteau noir

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kathryn Robson


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The possibility of a so‐called ‘narrative cure’, whereby a survivor of traumatic experience can begin to deal with her past through integrating it into narrative, has become central both to psychotherapy and to literary criticism on writings of trauma as a means of ethical, ‘truthful’ testimony and of healing. This article seeks to question the correlation between testimony and ‘cure’ through analysing the function of the ‘narrative cure’ in a psychotherapeutic text and in a literary text. This highlights how any notion of ‘truthful’ testimony is always underwritten by fiction, which raises crucial ethical questions about the relation between fiction and ‘truth’, testimony and ‘cure’ and psychotherapy and literature. I argue that the ‘narrative cure’ is not a privileged space of curative ‘truth’, but a point of tension between memory and amnesia and between ‘truth’ and fiction; it is precisely this tension, I suggest, which should characterize and structure interdisciplinary responses to trauma.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kathryn Robson

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cultural Values

Year: 2001

Volume: 5

Issue: 1

Pages: 115-130

ISSN (print): 1479-7585

ISSN (electronic): 1467-8713

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/14797580109367224


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