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The body as narrator: Body movement memory and the life stories of holocaust survivors

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The present study explores the interaction between two narrative worlds of substance: verbal life stories and body movement expressions among Holocaust survivors. A narrative phenomenology approach was used to investigate the way in which people organize their lives, granting them meaning through their life stories and narratives. Sixteen Holocaust survivors participated in this study: men and women aged 73–93. Qualitative open and unstructured interviews were conducted and videotaped. Six major clusters were found. Each cluster presents unique characteristics of verbal and movement expressions: activity, passivity, arousal, self-reassurance, deadlock, and suffocation. These findings shed new light on the survivors’ traumatic life stories.
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Keywords: Body movement memory; Holocaust survivors; body phenomenology; life stories; narratives; self-identity; trauma

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Graduate School of Creative Art Therapies, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel 2: Department of Gerontology, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel

Publication date: January 2, 2016

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