Paper Birds

What happens when you have just enough puzzle pieces to know there’s a picture, but not enough to know what’s really there?

Paper Birds: A Project About the Relationship Between Trauma & Memory

Memory tends to be thought of as something straight forward and linear, like a camcorder capturing life as it happens. But the process of how our brain goes about encoding each experience we encounter is a web still being unwound. In the case of traumatic memory, this only rings more true. Trauma, unlike non-traumatic memory, is often stored in fragments. During the event, the prefrontal cortex goes “offline”. In place of a traditional narrative consisting of a beginning, middle and end, the limbic system latches onto different sensory input (information that will often later act as triggers). It’s this fact that sits at the core of a notion growing increasingly more embraced, first by the psychology field and now by the general public: The body remembers trauma.

Paper Birds is a short documentary illuminating what it’s like to live with what you can’t remember in the conventional sense, and–more importantly–demonstrates that healing is possible even in the absence of answers. Following my own story of navigating life with somatic– sometimes referred to as “body”–memories and the delayed onset of PTSD, this piece presents a complex, misunderstood facet of trauma through interviews, reenactments and symbolic b-roll in a way that can be easily digested by the general public.

The long standing stigma tied to recovered memories and the complete lack of media representation regarding somatic memories has, for far too long, discouraged survivors from talking openly about their experiences–an act that only exacerbates feelings of guilt and loneliness. Paper Birds stands to change that.