My country has sunk into a complex humanitarian crisis led by a corrupt autocracy. From the laments of the millions of migrants who comprise the Venezuelan exodus around the world, to country-wide demands for food, medicine, and basic services, to the denunciations of human rights violations and the cries of political prisoners, Venezuela is in grave decline.
How did I come to make a film about Dr. Vamik Volkan? The project arose from my experiences being a woman of a particular family rooted in the southern United States. As D.W. Winnicott said, home is where we start from.
Vamik Volkan was born in 1932 in a Turkish family on Cyprus, received his medical education in Turkey, and trained in psychiatry and psychoanalysis in the United States. From a career in psychoanalysis in which he published many papers, he eventually found his way to creating a discipline in the application of psychoanalytic ideas to international conflict.
Being involved in global violence prevention and dealing with genocides, gender-based violence, civil wars, and suicides, the last thing on my mind was domestic partisan politics.
I work at an agency in a central city in Israel that focuses on treating children who are survivors and perpetrators of sexual violence. The office has one bathroom with two private toilet rooms: a toilet without a toilet seat for men and a women’s bathroom.
Crossing borders in the recent past was probably less confusing and demanding than it is now. Institutions, social norms, and rituals made borders more rigid, and prior to the digital revolution and hyperglobalization, borders were more stable.
I am sitting in my office, thinking about rooms. Writing for Room has prompted this state of reverie, during which one of my favorite works, A Room of One’s Own, passes through my mind. In her essay, Virginia Woolf writes of the necessity for women to have money and a room of their own in order to write fiction.
A young man came to see me suffering from what he described as an “identity crisis.” He felt lost and didn’t know who he was or what he wanted. His family had fled from their country of origin during a time of war and could no longer return without the threat of imprisonment or death.
I had a safe childhood growing up in Brezhnev-era Soviet Russia. My family was a rather typical one, according to the principle formulated by Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
I can thank Donald Trump for one thing and one thing only: he got me to read things I never would have read before. As my anxiety about his rhetoric kept increasing, Jason Stanley’s book On How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them convinced me my fear of a fascist government takeover was not so far-fetched under the right conditions…