Monday, November 7, 2011

Helping Gilad Shalit heal

Op-ed: After helping secure Shalit’s release, media should now play role in his recovery
Irit Felsen
Published: 11.07.11, 00:23 / Israel Opinion

For five long years, a media campaign swirled around the abduction and internment of Gilad Shalit, gaining momentum with every passing day. Without a doubt, it was the media that helped keep his story alive and contributed significantly to his release, creating public pressure in favor of the historic (though unsettling) exchange of over 1,000 convicted terrorists for Gilad's freedom.

But now that he has been freed, will the media claim its “pound of flesh?”
Keeping Sane
Shalit made drawings, kept journal in captivity / Nechama DuekFormerly captive soldier kept sane by drawing his hometown and keeping record of his thoughts, experiences. He was forced to leave the records behindFull Story
Aside from the interview he was forced to give Egyptian television immediately following his release, Gilad is yet to speak publically about his 1,941-day ordeal. His father, Noam, continues to serve as his mouthpiece, and his family and friends have formed a protective shield around him, disallowing any media contact. As they see it, the media can only harm Gilad at this point, slowing his recovery and reintegration into normal life and society.

But is that true?
The experiences of survivors of captivity, maltreatment and torture from many parts of the world teach us that the phase of re-entry into society plays a critical role in the quality of recovery. The societal attitudes and the degree of acceptance and assistance available to survivors as they return from an ordeal determines their success in psychologically reintegrating their traumatic experiences into a sense of themselves that feels continuous and consistent.

When survivors are met with a “conspiracy of silence” where society and even relatives are not able to listen to their experiences, as with many survivors of the Holocaust, the survivors do not speak of their trauma. And when war veterans and prisoners of war are met with negative attitudes towards the war in which they participated, as was the case with Vietnam veterans, they also refrain from sharing their experiences.

In such cases, where the trauma cannot be discussed and shared in an accepting and truly empathic context, survivors attempt to cope by hiding or denying their distress. Paradoxically, the more dissociated the traumatic experiences become, the more they interfere with daily life.

The presence of supportive, empathic listeners who are genuinely interested in hearing what the survivor has to say is critical to the healing process. Such listening must be truly motivated by sensitivity and deep care and attuned to the needs of the survivor. Listening that is motivated by other, voyeuristic or self-serving interests will lead to additional trauma.

From what they have stated, this is the concern shared by Gilad's family and friends regarding his exposure to the media. There are no guarantees that the media will be the sensitive, empathetic listeners he requires, and it simply isn't worth the irreparable damage to Gilad.

Power of testimony
Exposure to the media, even in the best of circumstances, is often accompanied (true or not) by a feeling that one’s words were “twisted” to mean something else and that the message intended was hijacked and misrepresented. While generally irritating for the masses, such experiences might be truly damaging for an individual attempting to achieve a personally meaningful integration of his own traumatic experience, and might constitute a repetition of loss of control over one’s words, self-definition and life.

It goes without saying that a relentless pursuit by the media would interfere with Gilad's ability to explore and re-establish his personal life. Many bereaved individuals express feeling an added burden of having to live with the image that others project upon them as “the bereaved.” Having become recognizable to every Israeli, he will have a difficult enough task returning to normal life. Having the paparazzi chase him and “experts” volunteering their interpretations for every move he makes will only make the transition that much more difficult.

However, the media could play the hero if it so chooses.
It has been shown that the method of giving testimony has particular value for survivors of captivity and torture. Even decades after their traumatic experiences, survivors of the Holocaust showed significant positive changes after giving testimony.

While the processing of traumatic experiences in therapy and other private settings might confront the survivor with feelings of fear, loss of control, irreversible damage and shame, the process of testifying restores the right order of things, as it establishes who did what to whom, and places the moral burdens where they belong, with the aggressor. Due to its public format, testimony creates a social and cultural context for the individual trauma and accelerates the healing process.

This might be a benign role that the media can play, providing Gilad, at his own pace, with the opportunity to heal and add his personal story to Israeli society's collective narrative about the painful cost paid by everyone’s children in war.

So, now it's up to the media, the very entity that helped bring about Gilad’s release. Will they move in for the “scoop,” or do whatever they can to help free him from his painful past?

Dr. Irit Felsen, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and trauma specialist, and an adjunct professor at Yeshiva University'sFerkauf School of Psychology

Welcome Home, Gilad Shalit - 

 The song "Come Home", written during his long reach of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, and in real anguish and sincere prayer to God to return home safely, out of these days, days when we were told at a good return. Words and Music: AviramSokronaibod and musical production: Elijah HoldrovAriel Kndavi and brother Asher Cohen Alorotzilom & Editing: Ronen father (snail) was recorded in studios'Kndavi Productions' "Come Home" now it's closer than ever, now that I've seen the future. now that the winds of autumn, this evening, come home. now that the smell of Christmas already in the air, now thatshould have to hide, now that your husband light a star, this evening, come home. Hurry Gilad arrived,and the darkness did not break, that prayers are answered there for you. from the mountains of Gilead did you find, and always knew that someday she will still return to the silence, one day, and more return to hope. now that starts to clear, now that bit is falling into place, now the garland of flowers over your head, that tonight Come home. now that fulfilleda dream, now approaching him peace, now that will go down good rains, this evening, come home. HurryGilad arrived, and in the dark do not break, that prayers are answered there for you. - Hurry Gilad arrival, and always knew that someday she will return to the quiet, still, one day more to hope again. againlove it, would be the child you
Uploaded by . on Oct 16, 2011
 ההרכב הווקאלי "מפתח סול" בשיר מקורי לקראת חזרתו מהשבי של החייל גלעד שליט.
השיר "בוא הביתה", נכתב במהלך שהותו הארוכה של החייל החטוף גלעד שליט בשבי, ומתוך כאב אמיתי ותפילה כנה לאל שישוב הביתה בשלום, יוצא בימים אלו, ימים בהם התבשרנו בשעה טובה על חזרתו.

מילים ולחן: אבירם שוקרון
עיבוד והפקה מוסיקלית: אליהו חולדרוב, אריאל קנדאבי ואחיה אשר כהן אלורו
צילום ועריכה: רונן שאבי (שבלול)
הוקלט באולפני "קנדאבי הפקות"

"בוא הביתה"

עכשיו כשזה קרוב יותר מתמיד,
עכשיו כשכבר רואים את העתיד.
עכשיו כשנושבות רוחות של סתיו,
בזה הערב בוא הביתה.

עכשיו כשריח חג כבר באוויר,
עכשיו כשלא צריך כבר להסתיר,
עכשיו כשמעלך אור כוכב,
בזה הערב בוא הביתה .

מהרי גלעד הגעת,
ובחושך לא נשברת,
כי תפילותינו נענו שם בשבילך.
מהרי גלעד הגעת,
ותמיד תמיד ידעת,
שיום יבוא ועוד תשוב מהדממה,
שיום יבוא ועוד תשוב אל התקווה.

עכשיו שכבר מתחיל להתבהר,
עכשיו כשקצת מתחיל להסתדר,
עכשיו כשזר פרחים מעל ראשך,
בזה הערב בוא הביתה.

עכשיו כשמתגשם לו החלום,
עכשיו כשמתקרב לו השלום,
עכשיו כשיירדו גשמי ברכה,
בזה הערב בוא הביתה.

מהרי גלעד הגעת,
ובחושך לא נשברת,
כי תפילותינו נענו שם בשבילך.
-מהרי גלעד הגעת,
ותמיד תמיד ידעת,
שיום יבוא ועוד תשוב מהדממה,
שיום יבוא ועוד תשוב אל התקווה.
תשוב לאהבה, תשוב להיות הילד שאתה