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Memory Work

Memory work is the toil of remembering as a process of addressing, managing, and learning from traumatic memories. Traumatic memories are recollections embedded in a complex set of psychosocial and physical reactions.

Paul Ricoeur, one of the pioneers of memory work, suggests that memory work, or travail de memoire, is that events are not just stored as pure, transcribed, or recorded history but rather a set of impressions. Trauma and other notable events require mastery—that is, figuring out how to cope with the event and with the impressions they leave on the survivors.

As Charles R. Figley has noted since the 1990s, most people cognitively process traumatic events through a series of questions, the answers for which provide some measure of relief and an increased sense of ...

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