Jean Améry pp 171-197 | Cite as

The Healing Power of Imagination: Playfulness in Impossible Situations

  • Mooli LahadEmail author


This chapter suggests a new perspective on Améry as a holocaust survivor suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or Complex Grief. Based on my research and clinical work I assume that imagination and playfulness are protective elements in traumatic incidents that Améry knew about it but for reasons described in the chapter resented this option.


PTSD Imagination Fantastic Reality Playfulness Traumatic grief 


  1. Auerhahn, N. C., & Laub, D. (1987). Play and Playfulness in Holocaust Survivors. Psychoanalytical Study Child, 42, 45–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ayalon, O. (2007). Healing Trauma with Metaphoric Cards. Therapy Today, 18, 22–24.Google Scholar
  3. Barak, Y., Aizenberg, D., Szor, H., Swartz, M., Maor, R., & Knobler, H. Y. (2005). Increased Risk of Attempted Suicide Among Aging Holocaust Survivors. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 13(8), 701–704.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Barnett, L. A. (2007). The Nature of Playfulness in Young Adults. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 949–958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Başoğlu, M. (2009). A Multivariate Contextual Analysis of Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatments: Implications for an Evidence-Based Definition of Torture. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 79(2), 135–145.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Bennett, A. (2017). Suicide Century: Literature and Suicide from James Joyce to David Foster Wallace. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brooks, R., Bryant, R. A., Silove, D., Creamer, M., O’Donnell, M., McFarlane, A. C., & Marmar, C. R. (2009). The Latent Structure of the Peritraumatic Dissociative Experiences Questionnaire. Journal of Trauma Stress, 22(2), 153–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bussie, J. A. (2007). The Laughter of the Oppressed: Ethical and Theological Resistance in Wiesel, Morrison, and Endo. New York: T&T Clark International.Google Scholar
  9. Butler, L. (2006). Normative Dissociation. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 29, 45–62.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Carpenter, W. (2010). Laughter in a Time of Tragedy: Examining Humor During the Holocaust. Denison Journal of Religion, 9(3), 11–25.Google Scholar
  11. Clark, C. D. (1998). Childhood Imagination in the Face of Chronic Illness. In J. Sarbin & J. De Rivera (Eds.), Believed-in Imaginings: The Narrative Construction of Reality (pp. 87–100). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cohen, A. (1996). The Dream of the Soul: Imagination, Fantasy and Daydreaming. Haifa: Amatzia (Hebrew).Google Scholar
  13. Cooper, N. A., & Clum, G. A. (1989). Imaginal Flooding as a Supplementary Treatment for PTSD in Combat Veterans: A Controlled Study. Behavior Therapy, 20(3), 381–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Council, J. R., & Greyson, B. (1985). Near-Death Experiences and the “Fantasy-Prone” Personality: Preliminary Findings. 93rd Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Los Angeles, CA, 23–27.Google Scholar
  15. Duffy, B. (1998). Supporting Creativity and Imagination in the Early Years. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Ehlers, A., & Clark, D. M. (2000). A Cognitive Model of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 38, 319–345.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Foa, E. B., & Rothbaum, B. O. (2001). Treating the Trauma of Rape: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for PTSD. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  18. Freud, S., & Breuer, J. [1892] (2004). Studies in Hysteria (N. Luckhurst, Trans.). London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  19. Freud, A. (1963). The Concept of Developmental Lines. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 18(1), 245–265.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Glynn, M., & Webster, J. (1992). The Adult Playfulness Scale: An Initial Assessment. Psychological Reports, 71, 83–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gordon, G. (2014). Well Played: The Origins and Future of Playfulness. American Journal of Play, 6, 234–266.Google Scholar
  22. Greyson, B., & Stevenson, I. (1980). The Phenomenology of Near-Death Experiences. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137, 1193–1196.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. Greyson, B. (2001). Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms Following Near-Death Experiences. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 71, 368–373.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  24. Holmes, J. (2014). The Therapeutic Imagination: Using Literature to Deepen Psychodynamic Understanding and Enhance Empathy. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Heidelberger-Leonard, I. (2010). The Philosopher of Auschwitz: Jean Améry and Living with the Holocaust. London and New York: IB Tauris.Google Scholar
  26. Herman, J. L. (1992). Complex PTSD: A Syndrome in Survivors of Prolonged and Repeated Trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 5(3), 377–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hilgard, E. R. (1977). The Problem of Divided Consciousness: A Neodissociation Interpretation. Annals of the NY Academy of Science, 296, 48–59.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. Janet, P. (1887). L’Anesthésie Systematisée el la Dissociation des Phénomenes Psychologiques. Review of Philosophy, 23(l), 449–472.Google Scholar
  29. Kaplansky, N. (2009). Dissociating from Death: An Investigation into the Resilience Potential of Transcendence into Fantastic Reality During Near-Death Experiences (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, UK.Google Scholar
  30. Kaufman, J. C. (2009). Creativity 101. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  31. Kihlstrom, J. (2005). Dissociative Disorders. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 1, 227–253.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  32. Klinger, E. (1990). Daydreaming. Los Angeles, CA: Tarcher (Putnam).Google Scholar
  33. Lahad, M., Baruch, Y., Shacham, Y., Niv, S., Rogel, R., Nacasch, N., & Leykin, D. (2011). Cultural Sensitivity in Psychosocial Interventions Following a Disaster: A Tri-National Collaboration in Sri Lanka. In R. Kaufman, R. L. Edwards, J. Mirsky, & A. Avgar (Eds.), Crisis as an Opportunity: Organizational and Professional Responses to Disaster (pp. 129–154). Lanham, MD: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  34. Lahad, M., & Doron, M. (2009). SEE FAR CBT. Kiryat Shmona: CSPC (Hebrew).Google Scholar
  35. Lahad, M., & Doron, M. (2010). Protocol for Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: See Far CBT Model: Beyond Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Amsterdam: IOS Press.Google Scholar
  36. Lahad, M. (2000). Creative Supervision. London: Jessica Kingsley Publication.Google Scholar
  37. Lahad, M. (2005). Transcending into Fantastic Reality: Story Making with Adolescents in Crisis. In C. Schaefer, J. Mccormick, & A. Ohnogi (Eds.), International Handbook of Play Therapy: Advances in Assessment, Theory, Research and Practice (p. 133). Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  38. Lahad, M., & Doron, M. (2007). Beyond CBT, SEE FAR CBT Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment Protocol. Kiryat Shmona: CSPC.Google Scholar
  39. Lahad, M., Farchi, M., Leykin, D., & Kaplansky, N. (2010). Preliminary Study of a New Integrative Approach in Treating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: SEE FAR CBT. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 37, 391–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lahad, M., & Leykin, D. (2012). The Healing Potential of Imagination in the Treatment of Psychotrauma: An Alternative Explanation for the Effectiveness of the Treatment of PTSD Using Fantastic Reality. In S. A. Lee & D. M. Edget (Eds.), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Application Methods and Outcomes (pp. 71–93). New York: Nova.Google Scholar
  41. Lahad, M., Leykin, D., Farchi, M., Doron, M., Gidron, Y., Rozenblat, O., & Fajerman, Z. (2016). SEE FAR CBT Therapy for Children with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Under Prolonged Political Conflict. Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy Research, 3, 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lazarus, R., & Lazarus, B. (2001). Emotion and Logic. Haifa: University of Haifa and Zemora Bitan Pub. [Hebrew].Google Scholar
  43. Lensvelt-Mulders, G., van der Hart, O., van Ochten, J. M., Van Son, M. J. M., Steele, K., & Breeman, L. (2008). Relations Among Peritraumatic Dissociation and Posttraumatic Stress: A Meta-Analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 28, 1138–1151.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  44. Lloyd, D. (1998). The Fables of Lucy R.: Association and Dissociation in Neural Networks. In D. Stein (Ed.), Connectionism and Psychopathology (pp. 247–272). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Lynn, S. J., & Rhue, J. W. (1986). The Fantasy-Prone Person: Hypnosis, Imagination, and Creativity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51(2), 404–408.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  46. Magnuson, C. D., & Barnett, L. A. (2011). The Playful Advantage: How Playfulness Enhances Coping with Stress. Leisure and Science: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 35, 129–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Marmar, C. R., Weiss, D. S., Schlenger, W. E., Fairbank, J. A., Jordan, B. K., Kulka, R. A., & Hough, R. L. (1994). Peritraumatic Dissociation and Posttraumatic Stress in Male Vietnam Theater Veterans. American Journal of Psychiatry, 151, 902–907.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  48. Megged, A. (2001). Fairies and Witches: Metaphoric Stories in Caring for Children at Risk. Haifa: Nord Publication [Hebrew].Google Scholar
  49. Merckelbach, H., Muris, P., & Rassin, E. (1999). Fantasy Proneness and Cognitive Failures as Correlates of Dissociative Experiences. Personality and Individual Differences, 26(5), 961–967.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Metzl, E. S. (2009). The Role of Creative Thinking in Resilience After Hurricane Katrina. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 3(2), 112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Metzl, E. S., & Morrell, M. A. (2008). The Role of Creativity in Models of Resilience: Theoretical Exploration and Practical Applications. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 3(3), 303–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Monahan, K., & Lurie, A. (2015). The Use of Humor with Older Adults Aging in Place. Journal of Social Work and Mental Health, 13, 61–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Moulton, S. T., & Kosslyn, S. M. (2009). Imagining Predictions: Mental Imagery as Mental Emulation. Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society B, 364(1521), 1273–1280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Nathan, P. E., & Gorman, J. M. (Eds.). (2002). A Guide to Treatments That Work (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Nietzsche, F. W. (1986). Human, All Too Human (R.J. Hollingdale, Trans.). Oxford University Press (Original work published in 1878).Google Scholar
  56. Oquendo, M. A., Friend, J. M., Halberstam, B., Brodsky, B. S., Burke, A. K., Grunebaum, M. F., Malone, K. M., & Mann, J. J. (2003). Association of Comorbid Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depression with Greater Risk for Suicidal Behavior. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160(3), 580–582.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  57. Ostrower, H. (2009). It Kept Us Alive: Humor in the Holocaust. Jerusalem: Yad Va Shem Hebrew Edition.Google Scholar
  58. Oxford English Dictionary: Single User Version. (2005). (Vols. 1–3). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Ozer, E. J., Best, S. R., Lipsey, T. L., & Weiss, D. S. (2003). Predictors of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Symptoms in Adults: A Meta-Analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 129(1), 52–73.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  60. Pawelczynska, A. (1979). Values and Violence in Auschwitz: A Sociological Analysis. Berkley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  61. Peng-Keller, S., & Mauz, A. (Eds.). (2018). Sterbenarrative: Hermeneutische Erkundungen des Erzählens am und vom Lebensende. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co.Google Scholar
  62. Prigerson, H. G., Bierhals, A. J., Kasl, S. V., Reynolds, C. F., Shear, M. K., Day, N., Beery, L. C., Newsom, J. T., & Jacobs, S. (1997). Traumatic Grief as a Risk Factor for Mental and Physical Morbidity. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154(5), 616–623.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  63. Prince, M. (1906). The Dissociation of a Personality. New York: Longmans, Green, & Co.Google Scholar
  64. Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Müller, L. (2010). Sense of Humor Among the Elderly: Findings Using the German Version of the SHS. Z Gerontology Geriatric, 43, 19–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Proyer, R. T. (2011). Being Playful and Smart? The Relations of Adult Playfulness with Psychometric and Self-Estimated Intelligence and Academic Performance. Learning and Individual Differences, 21, 463–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Proyer, R. T. (2012). Development and Initial Assessment of a Short Measure for Adult Playfulness: The SMAP. Personality and Individual Differences, 53, 989–994.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Rauschenberger, S. L., & Lynn, S. J. (1995). Fantasy Proneness, DSM-III-R Axis I Psychopathology and Dissociation. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 104(2), 373–380.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  68. Rhue, J. W., & Lynn, S. J. (1987). Fantasy Proneness and Psychopathology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53(2), 327–336.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  69. Sanders, B. (1995). Sudden Glory: Laughter as Subversive History. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  70. Saunders, I., Sayer, M., & Goodale, A. (1998). The Relationship Between Playfulness and Coping in Preschool Children: A Pilot Study. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 53, 221–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Schopenhauer, A. (1958). The World as Will and Representation (p. 216). New York: Dover Publications.Google Scholar
  72. Singer, D. G., & Singer, J. L. (1990). The House of Make-Believe: Children’s Play and the Developing Imagination. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  73. Singer, J. L. (1975). Navigating the Stream of Consciousness: Research in Day-Dreaming and Related Inner Experience. American Psychologist, 30, 727–738.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Tanielian, T., Haycox, L. H., Schell, T. L., Marshall, G. N., Burnam, M. A., Eibner, C., Karney, B. R., Meredith, L. S., Ringel, J. S., & Vaiana, M. E. (2008). Invisible Wounds of War: Summary and Recommendations for Addressing Psychological and Cognitive Injuries. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corp.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Taylor, S. E., Pham, L. B., Rivkin, I. D., & Armor, D. A. (1998). Harnessing the Imagination. Mental Simulation, Self-Regulation, and Coping. American Psychologist, 53(4), 429–439.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  76. Tegano, D. W. (1990). Relationship of Tolerance of Ambiguity and Playfulness to Creativity. Psychological Reports, 66(3), 1047–1056.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Tol, W. A., Song, S., & Jordans, M. J. (2013). Annual Research Review: Resilience and Mental Health in Children and Adolescents Living in Areas of Armed Conflict – A Systematic Review of Findings in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. J Child Psychology Psychiatry, 54(4), 445–460.Google Scholar
  78. Trappler, B., Cohen, C. I., & Tulloo, R. (2007). Impact of Early Lifetime Trauma in Later Life: Depression Among Holocaust Survivors 60 Years After the Liberation of Auschwitz. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 15(1), 79–83.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  79. Van der Hart, O., Nijenhuis, E., Steele, K., & Brown, D. (2004). Trauma-Related Dissociation: Conceptual Clarity Lost and Found. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 38, 906–914.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  80. Van der Hart, O., & Dorahy, M. J. (2009). History of the Concept of Dissociation. In P. F. Dell & J. A. O’Neil (Eds.), Dissociation and the Dissociative Disorders: DSM-V and Beyond (pp. 3–26). New York, NY: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
  81. Van der Kolk, B. A., Roth, S., Pelcovitz, D., Sunday, S., & Spinazzola, J. (2005). Disorders of Extreme Stress: The Empirical Foundation of a Complex Adaptation to Trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 18, 389–399.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  82. Van der Kolk, B., Van der Hart, O., & Marmar, C. R. (1996). Dissociation and Information Processing in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. In B. Van der Kolk, A. C. McFarlane, & L. Weisaeth (Eds.), Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body and Society (pp. 303–327). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  83. Van der Velden, P. G., & Wittmann, L. (2008). The Independent Predictive Value of Peritraumatic Dissociation for PTSD Symptomatology After Type I Trauma: A Systematic Review of Prospective Studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 28(6), 1009–1020.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  84. Waldman-Levi, A., Bar-Haim Erez, A., & Katz, N. (2015). Healthy Aging Is Reflected in Well-Being, Participation, Playfulness, and Cognitive-Emotional Functioning. Healthy Aging Research, 4, 8.Google Scholar
  85. Williams, C., Haines, J., & Sale, I. (2003). Psychophysiological and Psychological Correlates of Dissociation in a Case of Dissociative Identity Disorder. Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 4(1), 101–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tel-Hai Academic CollegeUpper GalileeIsrael
  2. 2.Community Stress Prevention CenterQiryat ShemonaIsrael

Personalised recommendations