Healing of Memories: Overcoming the Wounds of History

Conversation Details

Dates of conversation: 
Wednesday, March 25, 2009 to Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Conversation type: 
Type of tactical goal: 

Summary available

IHOM has developed interactive workshops that emphasize the emotional and spiritual, rather than intellectual, understanding and interpretation of the past. Through an exploration of their personal histories, participants find emotional release and as a group gain insight into and empathy for the experiences of others. These processes prepare the ground for forgiveness and reconciliation between people of diverse backgrounds, races, cultures and religions. This dialogue is an opportunity to learn more about healing memories, and to share your experiences, challenges, and successes.

This dialogue was facilitated by the Institute for Healing of Memories based in South Africa. The Institute for the Healing of Memories (IHOM) is a response to the emotional, psychological and spiritual wounds that are inflicted on nations, communities and individuals by wars, repressive regimes, human rights abuses and other traumatic events or circumstances. Emotional scars are often carried for very long, hindering the individual’s emotional, psychological and spiritual development. Attitudes and prejudices that have developed out of anger and hatred between groups can lead to ongoing conflict and spiraling violence.

The first topic that was covered was the process by which the victim can become the victimizer, and what happened when those who had crimes committed against them fail to address it in a constructive fashion. In particular, Israel and Palestine were considered a powerful example. This led to a discussion about the need for a national consciousness and acknowledgment about previous crimes committed, for every country, not to bury or deny them. This was followed by a discussion about the need for the United States to have a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The issue of symmetry, or the lack of it, in suffering and how that affects the healing process was brought up, with participants noting that each case much be taken individually, not compared or lumped together.

Following this the participants began a discussion on various methods used in the healing process. The following methods were discussed: Tree of Life, Prayer sandwich, the use of art, The Narrative Approach, traditional methods, and community healing. The next topic was the possible uses of technology in the healing process, including cell phones and online records, both the positive and negative aspects.

This led the dialogue to the importance of understanding that healing and forgiveness are a process. Finally, there was a long discussion on the role of reconciliation in healing of memories, its necessity, importance and effectiveness.

Conversation Leaders

Glenda's picture
Glenda Wildschut
Leadership Support and Development Centre
frmichaelssm's picture
Michael Lapsley
Institute for Healing of Memories
Kaethe Weingarten's picture
Kaethe Weingarten
Cambridge Health Alliance
Evclennon's picture
Evelyn Lennon
The Center for Victims of Torture/Episcopal Diocese of MN
mszviman's picture
Zvi Bekerman
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
dwshriver's picture
Donald Shriver
Union Theological Seminary, New York
Amber Gray's picture
Amber Elizabeth Gray