Wounds Into Wisdom
Healing Intergenerational Jewish Trauma
- The lasting effects of individual trauma are now widely recognized. But what of the consequences of extreme trauma on an entire ethnic group? New research in neuroscience and clinical psychology demonstrates that even when they are hidden, trauma histories--from persecution and deportation to the horrors of the Holocaust--leave imprints on the minds and bodies of future generations. Wounds Into Wisdom makes a compelling case that trauma legacies can be transformed and healed. Fusing contemporary neuroscience, psychology, and ancient Jewish wisdom and values, this work provides a roadmap for Jews, and all individuals and groups with trauma history, who wish to seize the power to change their lives. Gripping case studies and interviews with trauma survivors and their descendants--from Berlin to Shanghai, Cairo to Colorado--demonstrate what Viktor Frankl called, "the uniquely human potential to transform personal tragedy into triumph." As a rabbi and psychotherapist who has studied and counseled hundreds of Jewish families and individuals for over 30 years, Tirzah Firestone brings to life these real people who have surmounted their tragedies. From them we learn the many ways that past trauma shapes the present--from the timid young woman who discovers she has been repeating her lost grandmother's exact words, to the Israeli war hero who has endured decades of terrifying nightmares. From these moving testimonies Firestone distills seven principles, rich in Jewish wisdom, that mark the way to new freedom. Building on the work of acclaimed traumatologists such as Drs. Rachel Yehuda, Bessel van der Kolk, and Yael Danieli, Firestone shows how people can transform the residual effects of their families' painful pasts and change their long-term futures. The brave characters in Wounds Into Wisdom remind us of our own human capacity to rise up after devastation and reclaim our innate wisdom and inner freedom. Wounds Into Wisdom also awakens us to the impact of collective trauma in the world today, as entire populations are being dislocated by war, poverty, and climatic changes. The book provides a template for people everywhere to emerge from the wreckage of their tragedies and reshape their destinies. Relevant not only to the tragic past, but to the world of turmoil and displacement we live in today, Wounds into Wisdom is an essential book for our times.
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