Talking about trauma: could I, would I, should I?

In this article, we discuss the current clinical guideline in trauma treatment which proscribes putting traumatic events into words. Via Lacan’s registers of the Real, the Imaginary and the Symbolic, we consider an alternative understanding of trauma in which subjective processes and the relationship between subject and Other are crucial in understanding the inability to process traumatic events. When, in that relationship, a dissatisfactory representational framework has been installed, therapy should focus on finding stabilization in a safe and supportive environment. In a case illustration, we elaborate on the situation in which the existing representational framework fails and how therapy encompasses a search towards another position in relation to the Other. We conclude that speech functions as an instrument, rather than as the finality of the cure.