The traumatic story as expressed in narrative and movement

Rachel Lev-Wiesel, Galit Zana-Sterenfeld, Dita Judith Federman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the last decades, a growing body of research has deepened the understanding of the complexity of traumatic events and their consequences. While verbal expressions of traumatic experience have long been studied, studies of nonverbal responses are scarce.

The present study explored bodily movements while people recount traumatic memories. The convenience sample consisted of 50 adults (37 women, 13 men) between the ages 23 and 82 (mean = 44.25 years, SD = 13.35), who each experienced a traumatic event within the last 10 years. Mixed methodology was used: a quantitative self-report questionnaire that included demographics (gender, age, and family status), traumatic events experiences (TEQ), negative traumatic stress symptomatology (PSS-I), depression (BDI), and a patient health questionnaire (PHQ-15), was administered prior to the interview. Qualitative method included videotaped semistructured in-depth interviews, in which participants were asked to describe two memories, a nontraumatic event, and then a traumatic event experienced within the last 10 years.

Results revealed three main bodily movement categories that accompany the verbal narration of a traumatic event: illustrative, regulative, and comforting movements, in addition to new information about duration, frequency, and compatibility of the stories told by survivors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-417
JournalJournal of Loss and Trauma
StatePublished - 2019


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