DENIAL: A Memoir of Terror


Picture homepage Jessica

Recent Talks and Events

March 5th - Hurting Brains: Conflict, Mental Illness, and Self-Control (Museum of Science, Boston)

March 12th - Presentation at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights (Harvard University)
Perpetrators of War Crimes: A Work in Progress

See ‘Interviews & Public Appearances’ section for past talks.

On the Boston Marathon and Terrorism

FOREIGN POLICYBrief Interviews with Hideous Terrorists



CNN’s State of the Union

CBC Radio’s Day 6

PBS Newshour

The World

WAMC Public Radio

On Point

Recent Work

Hoover Institution: The Imperative to Protect Institutions: An Amended Front-Page Rule

TIME: The War Against Terror Must Be Fought With Words Too

TIME:  We Need to Worry About Somali Terrorists in the U.S.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: The Suicidal Tendencies of Suicide Bombers 

THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: Terrorism Research Has Not Stagnated (with John Horgan)

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Iraq – Where Terrorists Go to School

HOOVER INSTITUTION: The Costs of the Moral Injury to Our Troops Fighting the Wars on Terrorism

Read more of Jessica’s writing, and check out more interviews with her.

Jessica Talks at the GRID13 Summit in Stockholm

Jessica presents “Talking to Terrorists” at the 2013 annual GRID two-day summit in Stockholm.  In the talk, she describes how she has met terrorists with Kalashnikovs in Pakistan, interviewed neo-Nazis in America and Sweden, and visited the homes of terrorist leaders in Indonesia. But it was only after she faced her own suppressed trauma that she understood why she was more afraid to meet the victims than the terrorists themselves.

Jessica talks at TEDx Amsterdam 2011

Jessica gives a presentation at the 2011 TEDx Amsterdam Women Conference. She reveals a revolutionary idea with the potential to transform counterterrorism. The project is aimed at amplifying the voices of former terrorists who have left their terrorist organizations.

Check out Jessica’s interview on the TV show “Gesprek op 2″ after her resent TEDx presentation in The Netherlands. She talks about her book Denial and how her own experiences relate to her studies of terrorists. The beginning is in Dutch, however the actual interview is in English. Enjoy!

DENIAL: A Memoir of Terror

In DENIAL: A Memoir of Terror, one of the world’s foremost experts on terrorism and post-traumatic stress disorder investigates her own unsolved adolescent sexual assault at the hands of a serial rapist, and, in so doing, examines the horrors of trauma and denial.

Learn more about the book.

“I know that I was raped. But here is the odd thing. If my sister had not been raped, too, if she didn’t remember— if I didn’t have this police report right in front of me on my desk—I might doubt that the rape occurred. The memory feels a bit like a dream. It has hazy edges. Are there aspects of what I think I recall that I might have made up?”  – Chapter 1, page 7

Read the preface and chapter 1 excerpt of “Denial”

Denial: A Memoir of Terror

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“I have been quiet, and I have listened all my life.
But now, I will finally speak.”

Readers respond to "Denial"The investigation

Jessica with Lt. Macone Lt. Paul Macone was in high school when the crime occurred. Thirty-five years later, the terrorism expert, Jessica Stern, found herself wanting to know what had happened that night. She went back to the police in her hometown and asked them for the complete file. Lt. Macone went to find the file and was astounded to discover that there had been a series of remarkably similar rapes, throughout the Boston area. “It was the same kind of gun,” Macone said. “The perp sounded remarkably similar. Unless I was missing something, this was clearly the same guy.”

Read more on The American Police Beat

Jessica on "Denial"

Jessica talks about “Denial: A Memoir of Terror”

All “experts” are influenced by their life experiences; but most of us try to stay behind the curtain of objectivity, or at least attempted objectivity, most of the time. I have pulled that curtain away, at least in this book, exposing how my experiences drew me to the work I did, and also made it possible for me to do it. I’ll want to pull that curtain back, in part to hide behind the mantle of “expertise.” Will it be possible?

Read a Q&A with Jessica about DENIAL.
What people are saying about DENIAL

“I have been studying the effects of trauma on mind, brain and human development for the past 30 years and written hundreds of articles about it. As a result of hearing so many trauma stories and seeing so many damaged human beings I like to spend my spare time getting away from it all. I read Jessica Stern’s book after she gave me a copy and after a literary friend told me that it was the most profound account of the subjective experience of trauma, and I could not put it down. The courage with which Jessica unravels her own story and allows herself to know what she knows and feel what she feels is a remarkable human journey from confusion and doubt to clarity and perspective. Stern gives an incisive account of the shape of the imprint of trauma on body and soul, and shows us how honest confrontation with what we already know, but try to forget, is essential in order be liberated from the past.

The way Stern writes about how trauma has affected her relationships with her loved ones, and how an honest and compassionate confrontation led to true and deep human connections made me weep.

Thank you for writing such a beautiful book!!” — Dr. Bessel A. van der Kolk, leading expert on trauma and its aftermath

“Wonderfully compassionate, absorbing reading for anyone.” — Starred review from Booklist

“Stern’s work is a strong, clear-eyed, elucidating study of the profound reverberations of trauma.” — Starred review from Publishers Weekly

“Brave, life changing and gripping…required reading for anyone seeking to understand terrorism and anyone who has survived a trauma of any kind.” — Naomi Wolf, author of THE BEAUTY MYTH

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