Emily Marie Palmer


PTSD causes detrimental physical changes in specific areas of the brain. The hippocampus, associated with the organization and processing of memories, and the prefrontal cortex, responsible for planning, decision-making and linguistic function, decrease in volume in PTSD sufferers. The amygdalae, regulators of emotion, social functioning and fear response, become hyperactive.

These changes often manifest in a loss and distortion of memories, and a hindrance in learning ability and absorption of new information. The sufferer is left with a stockpile of fragmented memories, facts, and experiences, but insufficient tools to synthesize the knowledge. Clear associations between individual pieces of data remain nebulous and out of grasp.

The condition could be compared to attempting to wear a garment with no stitching—in the absence of a common thread, it all falls apart, leaving the sufferer naked, exposed—unable to keep the pieces united.

This work reflects a struggle to make connections, and the anxiety of this struggle.

The images are collected from varying times and places, removed from their original context and re-assembled to represent different types of memories, mapping alleged connections. Some are magnified and visceral—symbolic of trauma re-experienced. Textures are amplified until they become almost tactile, and the depth, layers and moisture are nearly oppressive. In others, a contrasting detachment and flatness mirror memories obscured, distorted, empty.

The viewer is asked to determine if any relevant correlation truly exists between the parts, or whether it is merely a meaningless accumulation of images butted together, bearing no context, rhyme or reason.