International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Trauma and World Literature: Crimes of the Father by Thomas Keneally

07/17/2018
by Howard Lipke, PhD
In Crimes of the Father, Thomas Keneally, a former seminarian and author of Booker Prize-winning Shindler’s List, takes on the history of widespread sexual abuse in the Catholic Church as it began to be revealed in the 1990s. In Keneally’s 2016 novel, as in Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy about World War I, trauma and its effects are shown from many perspectives, including that of the mental health professionals of the time. Keanally’s psychotherapist is a clinical psychologist/priest. Victims and survivors (including family members), as in other aspects of life, have overlapping but also unique responses, as do the portrayed perpetrators and witnesses. Like Barker’s work, this novel could be especially valuable for teaching inexperienced therapists about the complexities of this kind of traumatic experience.

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