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TRAUMA: A Campus Read inspired exhibit

March 8, 2019 - May 20, 2019, Health Sciences Library

In healthcare, practitioners are often tasked with working with those in acute distress, which we might generally describe as traumatic. Understanding trauma, then, is an important aspect of the human condition that relates to medicine.

Rather than simply trying to define trauma, a group of undergraduate honors students taking Medicine and the Arts, looked at selections from several books to create works of art that would illustrate and narrate trauma. Using the reflective movements of narrative medicine—attention, representation, and affiliation—these students looked at sections from Atul Gawande's Being Mortal, the anthology Bodies of Truth, Emily St. John Mandel's novel (and WVU 2018-2019 campus read) Station Eleven, Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air and Rachel Pearson's No Apparent Distress. The students created works that showed personal trauma, medical trauma, financial trauma, and other forms to investigate how create viable representations through art with the goal of building affiliation with those who have experienced trauma. This exhibit showcases their work.

Dr. Rita Charon, widely regarded as the founder of Narrative Medicine writes:

It is our task to harness the tremendous power of these artistic, creative acts of telling and listening and representing stories for the sake of our patients and our colleagues. It is our duty to bring our full selves into our practice—not just our cognitive apparatus but all our resonant imaginative, meaning-making capacities so that patients' journeys toward health and meaning can be illuminated. Finally, attention and representation, we believe, can enable us to know in earthy, rich detail that we are affiliated as humans, all of us humble in the face of time, ready to suffer our portion, and brave enough to help one another on our shared journeys.

Through this exhibit, we hope to illuminate trauma in ways that live up to Dr. Charon's ideals.