Knowing and not knowing about trauma: Implications for therapy

Rachel E. Goldsmith, M. Rose Barlow, Jennifer J. Freyd

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Levels of awareness for trauma and their consequences for research, treatment, and prevention within professional psychology and society are considered. When people must endure chronically traumatic environments, it may be adaptive to isolate from awareness information that would produce cognitive dissonance and threaten necessary relationships. Unawareness may also facilitate functioning in environments that invalidate the prevalence and impact of trauma. In addition, characteristics of the posttraumatic environment can promote or impede individuals' awareness of trauma and their psychological functioning. Though often initially adaptive, unawareness for trauma is linked to intergenerational transmission of trauma and its effects and may preclude public and professional attention to trauma treatment and prevention. Understanding the processes through which individuals become unaware or aware of traumatic experience is therefore essential to conducting effective psychotherapy with trauma survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-463
Number of pages16
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes


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