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Using masks for trauma recovery : a self-narrative Keats, Patrice Alison

Abstract

The purpose of this evocative self-narrative study is to show the lived experience of recovery through the construction and utilization of masks within a therapeutic reenactment of a trauma event. This narrative text is a portrayal of the murder attempt on my life and the resultant lived experience of trauma repair. I designed a reenactment of the event using masks for the participants and witnesses. The context of the narrative is situated within the transcript of that reenactment which is interwoven with different temporal perspectives, academic literature, reflexive interpretations, and photographs. The qualitative methodology that is used in this study is an adapted ethnographic method called a self-narrative using a layered account. Through reading the narrative, the reader participates in the lived experience of trauma and the resultant process of recovery and change. Within the narrative I am able to hold multiple perspectives and speak with multiple voices. For example, I include my voice as a researcher, the voices of participants in the actual reenactment event, and my reflexive voice as I experience the impact of trauma and the resultant change process. The narrative is based on data that I collected from journal records that were kept throughout the process, dream journals, videotapes of the enactment, art therapy paintings, and conversations and interviews with participants. Using masks within a therapeutic reenactment process created phenomenal change in all aspects of my life. Areas that were effected include my sense of self, my feelings and beliefs about safety, my relationships with others, my future goals, and my worldview. This extraordinary transformation raises awareness as to the power of utilizing the survivor's selfhealing impulses and activities in expressive therapeutic interventions.

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