Siri Hustvedt – La femme qui tremble – Une histoire de mes nerfs

Siri Hustvedt
La femme qui tremble
Une histoire de mes nerfs
Traductrice : Christine Le Boeuf
Date de parution : 11/01/2013
Editeur : Actes Sud
Collection : Babel
ISBN : 978-2-330-01447-6
EAN : 9782330014476
Format : Poche
Présentation : Broché
Nb. de pages : 256 pages
Poids : 0.205 Kg
Dimensions : 11,0 cm × 17,6 cm × 2,0 cm


Résumé

En 2005, alors qu’elle vient à peine de commencer à prononcer le discours préparé en l’honneur de son père disparu deux ans auparavant, Siri Hustvedt voit soudain tout son corps secoué par d’irrépressibles tremblements. Aussi effrayée que stupéfaite, elle constate que cette crise n’affecte cependant ni son raisonnement ni sa faculté de s’exprimer. Afin de cerner la nature de ce spectaculaire et, bientôt, récurrent, phénomène de dissociation, Siri Hustvedt entreprend d’aller à la rencontre de cette “femme qui tremble”, ce Doppelgänger dont elle vient de découvrir l’existence.
Pour y parvenir, la romancière, de longue date fascinée par les phénomènes liés aux désordres psychiques, s’engage dans une recherche approfondie. Assistant, puis participant activement, à des séminaires de neuropsychologie tout en s’impliquant dans des ateliers d’écriture en lien avec des institutions psychiatriques officielles, l’écrivain ne manque pas d’accueillir également, pour étayer son enquête, les inépuisables témoignages que délivrent, sur le sujet, non seulement les oeuvres littéraires qui l’ont nourrie mais aussi les découvertes dont sa pratique personnelle de l’écriture est le constant laboratoire.
Synthèse d’un parcours placé sous le signe de la rigueur intellectuelle et d’une réquisition, parfois douloureuse, de l’opaque mémoire affective individuelle, La Femme qui tremble s’affirme comme une approche aussi ambitieuse qu’inédite de l’histoire des pathologies mentales, aborde sans détour les rapports de la maladie avec le geste créateur, et délivre une parole d’humilité solidaire de la souffrance de “l’autre”.


Biographie de Siri Hustvedt

Le père de Siri Hustvedt est un Américain d’origine norvégienne et sa mère est norvégienne.
Poétesse, essayiste et romancière reconnue, elle est diplômée (Ph.D.) en littérature anglaise de l’Université Columbia1.
Son premier roman, Les Yeux bandés est édité en 1992, et son troisième roman Tout ce que j’aimais connaît un succès international. En 2010, elle édite un essai La femme qui tremble, sur les troubles neurologiques qu’elle a étudiés dans les hôpitaux psychiatriques. Le recueil Vivre Penser Regarder, paru en 2013, rassemble 32 conférences et articles, prononcés ou publiés séparément entre 2005 et 2011. Elle y développe ses thèmes de prédilection, mêlant les apports de la littérature, de la philosophie, de la psychologie ou encore des neurosciences. Ses œuvres sont traduites dans seize langues à ce jour. En France, les écrits de Siri Hustvedt sont traduits par Christine Le Bœuf et publiés chez Actes Sud.

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You Can’t Think Your Way Out Of Trauma – But Art Therapy Can Help

Artist doing design of fashion footwear model. Young man makes fashion sketch on his workplace with artistic tools around

By Chelsea Cristene
October 13, 2017

“The artistic process gives you a pause to start thinking about how you should be living your life now.”

Septimus Warren Smith, aged about thirty, pale-faced, beak-nosed, wearing brown shoes and a shabby overcoat, with hazel eyes which had that look of apprehension in them which makes complete strangers apprehensive too. The world has raised its whip; where will it descend?

Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway

As a graduate student in a Virginia Woolf seminar, I watched the handful of veterans in the class absorb Septimus Warren Smith with a special recognition, a solemn gratitude that an author living nearly a century prior could so eloquently capture the pain they were battling today. As an instructor a few years later, I watched my classrooms fill with Iraq War veterans and carefully selected literature that they could identify with and channel their own experiences into. I taught the jingoistic World War I poems of Jesse Pope alongside the raw sensory accounts of soldiers Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, a “before” and “after” pairing that prompted me to step back while the class veterans spoke to what I could not. I assigned stories from Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and an accompanying expository writing exercise, which one vet later noted in his student evaluation had allowed him to get things off his chest that he was never able to before.

The world has raised its whip, Virginia Woolf wrote. Where will it descend? That’s what PTSD is like. A band of tension stretching, stretching, waiting for a release that doesn’t come. A quiet mourning of the loss of a former life, be it the comradery of a troop or the joy of sex before an assault. Special accommodations, whispered in the minutes before class starts: I need to sit in the back row, in this chair. I get rattled if I sense someone behind me that I can’t see.

One of the chief frustrations that PTSD sufferers experience is an inability to rationally think their way out of their symptoms, the way we would solve a predicament at the office or a math problem on a sheet of homework. We know that it’s impossible to think ourselves out of having a broken arm or high blood pressure. But because mental illness is a matter of the mind, sufferers often beat themselves up over not simply willing themselves to stop feeling how they feel.

This difficulty, according to longtime trauma researcher Bessel van der Kolk, occurs because trauma does not reside in the more complex “thinking” parts of the brain. “The amygdala…which is the smoke detector, alarm bell system of the brain — that’s where the trauma lands, and trauma makes that part of the brain hypersensitive or renders it totally insensitive,” van der Kolk explains. Trauma impacts the part of the brain responsible for emotion regulation and basic functions, which is why so many diagnosed with PTSD have trouble sleeping, eating, and managing emotional responses.

I was fortunate enough to hear a talk given by Dr. van der Kolk at a PTSD research summit last month. The Military Healing Arts Network, a project of the National Endowment for the Arts, hosted the Creative Forces Clinical Research Summit in Washington, D.C., to share information on how to integrate the arts into PTSD treatment. There are currently 11 clinical sites across the country that house the Creative Forces four-week program, which combines music therapy, art therapy, dance and movement therapy, and expressive writing exercises into an interdisciplinary experience for patients.

Each kind of art benefits patients in different ways. Dance and movement therapy helps PTSD sufferers reconnect with their bodies after experiencing physical trauma or withdrawing away from a fear: sexual abuse survivors in particular have long relied on dance therapy to reclaim their bodily autonomy. Expressive writing helps patients better understand and verbalize their own trauma, leading to better communication with doctors as well as friends and family. Art therapy, which involves projects like the creation of masks at the Walter Reed site, allows patients to experiment with a multitude of mediums while creating something with their hands. The masks are then analyzed by staff for common themes and connection to symptoms.

The data shared at the research summit on creative arts therapy was overwhelmingly positive. Art therapy, in conjunction with more traditional methods like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), was found to be more effective in reducing symptoms like anxiety and depression than CBT alone. Other positive changes in patients included improvement in long-term and short-term memory, reduced nightmares, and deeper emotional insight. Retired Marine and Creative Forces patient Chris Stowe told The New York Times that he was “kind of lost” until engaging with painting and instrumental music through the program, while former Navy SEAL Rusty Noesner noted that “the artistic process gives you a pause to start thinking about how you should be living your life now.”

The arts integration movement is growing, and with good reason. Performing arts, visual arts, and creative writing in the classroom are connected to improved content retention, higher test scores, and increased capacity for empathy. But perhaps more crucially, the arts can assist in alleviating physical and mental stress in adults. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. When we’re feeling down or upset, our self-care often involves the arts. We release ourselves from the worries of the day, giving ourselves permission to escape through a book, a movie, a night at the comedy club or a song that makes us ugly-cry.

We should give trauma survivors permission to do the same.

Chelsea Cristene is a communications associate and English professor based in Washington, DC. She has been published by the Good Men Project, Salon, xoJane, and MamaMia, and runs a film review blog, Catch Up, with fellow Role Reboot contributor Telaina Eriksen. Find her on Twitter.

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L’association Art-Thérapie Virtus propose des ateliers d’art-thérapie pour les personnes traumatisées. Si vous voulez cliquez sur le logo de 13 or de vie pour voir ce que nous offrons aux victimes directes ou indirectes des attentats.