On A Stolen Life

29 Mar

I’ve recently finished A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard. For those unfamiliar with the story, Jaycee was kidnapped at the age of 11 and held in captivity for 18 whole years. She recently wrote a memoir describing her experience. [Warning: Spoilers below]

The book was a great read, offering an emotional image of such a painful experience. Jaycee went through everything imaginable from not being allowed to speak her own name, being handcuffed and left alone for extended periods of time, to sexual assault and eventually giving birth to two daughters by her kidnapper.

On remembering traumatic experiences, I kept wondering to myself how Jaycee was able to recall so much vivid information. Researching this week, I read about emotional and psychological trauma and its effect on memory. Memory loss is a natural survival skill we have. It serves as a type of defense mechanism we develop in order to protect ourselves from psychological damage. Emotionally traumatic events like what Jaycee went through can lead to dissociative amnesia, where a person can cope by allowing them to temporarily forget details of an event. They will often suppress memories of a traumatic event until they are ready to handle them, which actually may never occur.

I’ve attempted to capture traumatic experiences as well, but it seems every time I do, I can’t get the essence of what I’m trying to say. The memories flood and it seems like I’m forgetting important details. I couldn’t believe how well Jaycee captured her experience on paper. Through the text alone, I felt like I knew her. Her story was truly inspirational.

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