Mourning the Person One Could Have Become: On the road from trauma to authenticity

Simon, W. (2012). Mourning the Person One Could Have Become: On the road from trauma to authenticity. Lanham, MD, USA: Jason Aronson,

This book introduces the concept of the “Person One Could Have Become” and shows the importance of mourning for individuals with traumatic experiences. The Person One Could Have Become is conceptualized as personality and physical characteristics that could have emerged if an individual, at the right time, had received or opted for an appropriate quantity and quality of stimuli and experiences, which in turn would have enabled the person to make more mature and independent choices. Consequences of potentially traumatic events bear non-linear, meta-folding, and multicontextual meaning unique to each being-in-the-world. Many people with a history of trauma tend to mystify their existence in order to survive.
This book contains an overview of the ramifications of abuse and neglect on personality, as well as the consequences of pregnancy loss and the specific loss of possibility and its co-occurrence with abuse and neglect. It looks at examples from daily life and two cases of traumatized individuals who differ in their background and experience of trauma, as well as in their struggles during psychotherapy. This book is not intended as a treatment manual, nor does it advocate for any particular therapeutic approach. It is, rather, an encouragement of a way of living. Indeed, a reasonable mourning of the Person One Could Have Become may set the individual free—also such with the history of trauma—for the road beyond the traditional psychotherapy outcome, the road toward authenticity.

Simon’s work here is impressive. He illuminates at both the practical and theoretical levels a relatively overlooked but vital aspect of humans and psychotherapy, and he does so by richly relating the work of a host of important existentialists.
(Brent D. Slife, PhD, Brigham Young University, USA)

This engaging book goes deeply into a very relevant clinical topic. Witold Simon provides the theoretical solid ground of the innovative construct The Person One Could Have Become (POCHB) and its connection to trauma experiences. The author presents the term from a new perspective based on a profound reflection, as well as multiple theoretical approaches with a strong emphasis in an existential-humanistic view. Simon very well depicts how psychotherapy could be an experience of moving from trauma to authenticity, pointing out integrative group psychotherapy as modality fit enough for such a profound transition as mourning the Person One Could Have Become. The role of the therapist and supervision features is subsequently described. Critiques of the POCHB concept are not spared, inviting the reader to widen the scope of study and discussing further research.
(Héctor Fernández-Álvarez, PhD, University of Belgrano, Argentina)

Dr. Witold Simon has created a comprehensive overview of existential approaches to trauma. This book extends our understanding of trauma further than both Jacobsen’s European existential summarization of the topic, and Stubrin’s recent American humanistic-existential work. I believe he is successful in going beyond manualization and in so doing provides a very stimulating book which will be of great interest to practitioners. Working with trauma is frequently challenging and such encouragement and thoughtful critique is much-needed.
(Simon du Plock, PhD, FRSM, Middlesex University, UK)

It seems that the hidden problem of people of our time is the feeling of fatalism and existential impotence. In his book „Morning the person one could have become (On the road from trauma to authenticity)” Dr. Simon creatively depicts the clash between deterministic explanation of human condition with existential understanding of human dilema, placing himself in the tradition of Karl Jaspers, Viktor Frankl, Rollo May, authors who, interestingly enough, had medical, psychological and philosophical background broadening their understanding of human complexity and becoming. Dr. Simon’s book inspires those who on their journey to authenticity of their own life struggle with psychiatric, psychotherapeutic, philosophical and religious phantasmatic constructs willing to live with courage, freedom, responsibility and integrity. The book is author’s unique and original expression of his understanding of human post traumatic drama and the vital meaning of mourning the person one could have become as a creative step towards regaining the taste and joy of one’s life. Highly recommended for all those who are searching, in spite of fears and tribulations, for more inner strength and light in their understanding and accepting their own life.
(Andrzej Winkler, MA, The New Experience for Surviviors of Trauma, Poland)