top of page

Reformational Newspaper

text by Rev. P. van Duijvenboden

Reformatorisch Dagblad: List

Honestly examining a major event in the past is often painful. Psychiatrist Fedia Jacobs wants to show that such an experience can also be enriching.

His book “Painful enrichment. Mourning and reborn relationships in the shadow of war violence”
is a valuable work that shows that suffering can sometimes – not always – be processed and turned for the better.

Dr. Fedia Jacobs has been working as a psychiatrist for the Sinai Center, located in Amstelveen, since 1987. In his work he focuses in particular on surviving relatives of people who suffered from war violence. I myself got to know the author as a teacher during a course on post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

First he tells his readers how he works as a psychiatrist. Violence of war brings sorrow.
People lose loved ones and experience special, frightening events that mark them. The shadow of these experiences extends to  the environment of those affected by this violence. For example, the author tells about the struggles of a man whose father barely survived the war. The events of the war have so stamped father that family life is eventually completely disrupted.

Jacobs works with a model in which he sees three sets, if it was a stage with three stage parts. The first stage part concerns the moment and the place where the trauma took place, for example the selection platform at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the deployment area in Bosnia or the hiding room. It is the stage of “there and then”. The second part of the stage is the same place, only in the present. You can think of a former concentration camp prisoner who returns. It is the stage of “there and now”. The third part of the stage is the psychiatrist's consulting room. It represents “here and now”.

What Jacobs does with his clients is to use what he calls "guided fantasy" to confront people with their traumatic past. He asks them to go back in their minds to the “there and then”. In doing so, he does not spare his clients. For example, a woman returns to the place where she witnessed a man being arrested and shot because he pulled her away from German soldiers who had seized her. Then she ran away, which gives her a deep sense of guilt after all these years.

Reformatorisch Dagblad: Text
bottom of page