On War, Trauma and how to build Resilience
Interviews usually go by a simple formula. Questions and answers. But when it comes to reporting war from zones all around the world, there is a universal language one needs to understand: trauma.
Since October 7th, journalists, volunteers, politicians and virtually anyone who has been paying attention - have been trying to decipher its intricacies. It is in such moments that the expertise of people like arab-israeli therapist Kida Noyman can make a world of difference.
Kida has been working with the families affected by the attacks into dealing with their newfound sense of reality. One that is utterly estranged from who they used to be and what they used to know.
On November 12th, we had the chance to sit down with Noyman and learn her method for healing and helping people currently living in hell on earth, the Gaza strip.
Read ahead to gain some insightful tools on how to deal with trauma or aid someone who is experiencing it.
Interviewer: Why did you change your field from communication design to therapy?
Kida: When I was in communication design I felt something was missing... (...) When I found therapy and specifically, somatic work, it resonated with me on a deeper level.
Interviewer:What's your approach to therapy, particularly with trauma?
Kida: Everything we go through gets stored in the body... Initially, you don't want to bring everything to the surface right after a traumatic event. It's all about finding a 'window of capability' to differentiate the traumatic event from your current safe environment, even if flashbacks persist.
Interviewer:How do movement and dance factor into your therapy process?
Kida: With ecstatic dance or somatic dance, we bring everything up to the surface. This helps express all the emotions we tend to push down, like anger, which can turn us into 'pressure pots'. It's about unifying the mind and body, realising that emotions and sensations are embodied experiences…
Interviewer:What impact does trauma have on individuals?
Kida: Trauma changes people significantly... They often fear they won't return to who they were before. I tell them they will find themselves anew from within, even though they will be different. Traumatic experiences, especially under extreme conditions like psychedelic experiences [referring to the Re´im music festival massacre] , amplify everything, connecting deeply to one's intuition.
Interviewer:How do you help clients rebuild their narrative after trauma?
Kida: Trauma often results in a story that hasn't been properly formed... It's about bringing these experiences to light, creating a narrative with continuity, and empowering the person. This helps distinguish the 'now' from the 'then', filling in the gaps where disassociation tends to happen.
Interviewer: What are the signs of PTSD to look for?
Kida: Key signs include disassociation, nightmares, hypersensitivity to noise, and fear of unexpected changes. In response to this, people tend to become more organised and aware of their environment, which is healthy even if it's born from fear.
Interviewer: What strategies do you recommend for dealing with feelings of helplessness post-trauma?
Kida: Taking charge or helping others can shift feelings of helplessness. For example, a child taking care of a teddy bear rather than being cared for. (...) doing something proactive and also engaging in dialogue for peace.
Interviewer: Can people train themselves to respond better to traumatic situations?
Kida: You can train yourself with techniques like Jiu-Jitsu or kickboxing to reduce the tendency to freeze... Training embeds responses in your body, like muscle memory. However, if you've already frozened, it's about finding peace with that response and recognizing that it was still a survival mechanism. Even if you didn't move.
Interviewer: How do people who have been victims of this trauma, perceive the conflict?
Kida: There's a lot of frustration. There's a tendency towards violence and revenge... We need personal dialogues and relationships to prevent it, not nationalism. People need to see each other beyond political or national titles. I´m working on bringing diverse groups together for this purpose.
Interviewer: How do people in your network feel about the current political leadership?
Kida: Many people despise the current leadership... They believe it's driven by self-interest rather than the country's interest. The hope is for a change that will enable Jews, Palestinians, and others to rebuild and establish peace.