Violence Told

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  • Title: Violence Told: Creating Empathy through Personal Narrative
  • Author(s): Charmaine Farber
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Image
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Image
  • Keywords: Narrative Medicine, Mere Exposure, Digital Storytelling, World War II
  • Volume: 8
  • Issue: 3
  • Year: 2017
  • ISSN: 2154-8560 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2154-8579 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Farber, Charmaine. 2017. "Violence Told: Creating Empathy through Personal Narrative." The International Journal of the Image 8 (3): 53-66. doi:10.18848/2154-8560/CGP/v08i03/53-66.
  • Extent: 14 pages


Part I of this article explores the culture of war stories in current news media and video games and looks at how it is difficult to build empathy around war narratives with such information. The subject of World War II and the Red Occupation presents a challenge when trying to touch people on an emotional level as most are desensitized to images of war and horror, especially from that time period. For decades, news and art have sought to present ever rising images and stories of war to evoke the desired emotion from an increasingly numb audience. A better version for communicating may be through strong personal narrative and imagery evoking compassion and empathy instead of horror or revulsion. Especially when abstracting ideas of war through illustration and animation, we can better understand the impact on individuals and society and even help toward recovery with these media techniques also used in narrative medicine. Part II is a process cataloging personal and familial stories from Polish immigrants and refugees about life in war-torn regions in the form of digital storytelling, animation, and games to help build empathy with the user/viewer rather than the traditional use of unedited, war footage.