Baptized in Fire: Trauma, Storytelling, and Survival

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University of New Brunswick


On the afternoon of September 13, 1977, my grandfather was burned on more than two-thirds of his body while working as a lineman for Nova Scotia Power. Despite a less than 10 per cent chance of survival, he is alive today thanks to the support of his wife and two children. My creative research project analyzes the benefits of model stage theories of healing following such a traumatic event. The research focuses on how trauma impacts families, how families can navigate recovery, and how storytelling is a crucial aspect of the healing process. The therapeutic potential of the screenplay emerges by establishing the connection between contemporary screenplay structure and models of healing used in psychology. This culminates in my creative piece, a screenplay based in part on the first four months of my grandfather’s recovery—a survival narrative seeking to help trauma victims become trauma survivors.