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Chronicling TraumaJournalists and Writers on Violence and Loss$
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Doug Underwood

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036408

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036408.001.0001

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Stories of Harm, Stories of Hazard

Stories of Harm, Stories of Hazard

Childhood Stress and Professional Trauma in the Careers of Journalist-Literary Figures

(p.24) 1 Stories of Harm, Stories of Hazard
Chronicling Trauma

Doug Underwood

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the life stories of journalist–literary figures in the context of childhood history, mental health symptoms, and categories of traumatic experience that today are recognized as “triggers” of psychic conflict. More specifically, it considers the ways that journalists have coped with childhood stress and professional trauma throughout their careers. The chapter first explains the historical limitations of our understanding of trauma's role in the lives of early journalist–literary figures such as Charles Lamb, Walt Whitman, Bret Harte, and William Dean Howells before discussing religion as the early framework for understanding trauma and traumatized emotions. It then explores the link between trauma and the romantic movement, and between trauma and psychological writing, and proceeds with an analysis of psychological themes in the fiction of journalists, such as parental and family loss, abandonment, family breakup, and/or living with psychologically ill and/or alcoholic parents. It also outlines what novel writing could do that journalism did not in terms of conveying the emotional impact of traumatic experience.

Keywords:   literary figures, mental health, traumatic experience, childhood stress, trauma, religion, romantic movement, psychological writing, family loss, novel writing

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