Trauma, Language, and Trust

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In times of emotional upheaval, one’s own words and/or those of others can seem strangely hollow, somehow off the mark. In extreme cases of individual- and group-level trauma, it is sometimes said that language fails us completely or that some experiences defy articulation. This chapter considers why certain experiences might pose particular linguistic challenges and what the experience of linguistic inadequacy consists of. I sketch a phenomenological approach that emphasizes (a) how words can be experienced as estranged from habitual contexts of use; and (b) how non-localized breakdowns of trust further impact on the experience of communication. This aids us in understanding experiences of trauma, while also providing broader insights into the phenomenology of language and how it relates to the habitually experienced world.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmpathy, Intersubjectivity, and the Social World: The Continued Relevance of Phenomenology
EditorsAnna Bortolan, Elisa Magri
PublisherDe Gruyter
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-11-069888-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-11-069863-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021

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