This paper addresses the phenomenological experience of precarity and vulnerability in racialized gender-based violence from a structural perspective. Informed by Indigenous social theory and anti-colonial approaches to intergenerational trauma that link settler colonial violence to the modalities of stress-inducing social, institutional, and cultural violences in marginalized women’s lives, I argue that philosophical failures to understand trauma as a functional, organizational tool of settler colonial violence amplify the impact of traumatic experience on specific populations. It is trauma by (...) design. I explore this through the history of the concept of trauma and its connection to tragedy. I give a brief overview of prominent theories of trauma and contrast these with the work of Indigenous feminist scholar Dian Million (2013), who highlights functional complicity of settler colonial institutions in shaping accounts of trauma in the west. I begin the piece with an important illustration of the kinds of lives and experiences that call for a politicized understanding of trauma in anti-colonial feminist theory. I end by offering an expansive notion of structural trauma that is a methodological pivot for conducting trauma-based gender-based violence research in a decolonial context, which calls for an end to narratives of trauma that are severed from the settler colonial project of Native land dispossession and genocide. (shrink)
Trauma and Human Existence effectively interweaves two themes central to emotional trauma--the first pertains to the contextuality of emotional life in general, and of the experience of emotional trauma in particular, and the second pertains to the recognition that the possibility of emotional trauma is built into the basic constitution of human existence. This volume traces how both themes interconnect, largely as they crystallize in the author’s personal experience of traumatic loss. As discussed in the book's (...) final chapter, whether or not this constitutive possibility will be brought lastingly into the foreground of our experiential world depends on the relational contexts in which we live. (shrink)
We argue for the addition of trauma informed awareness, training, and skill in clinical ethics consultation by proposing a novel framework for Trauma Informed Ethics Consultation (TIEC). This approach expands on the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) framework for, and key insights from feminist approaches to, ethics consultation, and the literature on trauma informed care (TIC). TIEC keeps ethics consultation in line with the provision of TIC in other clinical settings. Most crucially, TIEC (like TIC) (...) is systematically sensitive to culture, history, difference, power, social exclusion, oppression, and marginalization. By engaging a neonatal intensive care ethics consult example, we define our TIEC approach and illustrate its application. Through TIEC we argue it is the role of ethics consultants to not only hold open moral spaces, but to furnish them in morally habitable ways for all stakeholders involved in the ethics consultation process, including patients, surrogates, and practitioners. (shrink)
Betrayal trauma theory suggests that psychogenic amnesia is an adaptive response to childhood abuse. When a parent or other powerful figure violates a fundamental ethic of human relationships, victims may need to remain unaware of the trauma not to reduce suffering but rather to promote survival. Amnesia enables the child to maintain an attachment with a figure vital to survival, development, and thriving. Analysis of evolutionary pressures, mental modules, social cognitions, and developmental needs suggests that the degree to (...) which the most fundamental human ethics are violated can influence the nature, form, and processes of trauma and responses to trauma. (shrink)
Cultural trauma occurs when members of a collectivity feel they have been subjected to a horrendous event that leaves indelible marks upon their group consciousness, marking their memories forever and changing their future identity in fundamental and irrevocable ways. While this new scientific concept clarifies causal relationships between previously unrelated events, structures, perceptions, and actions, it also illuminates a neglected domain of social responsibility and political action. By constructing cultural traumas, social groups, national societies, and sometimes even entire civilizations, (...) not only cognitively identify the existence and source of human suffering, but may also take on board some significant moral responsibility for it. Insofar as they identify the cause of trauma in a manner that assumes such moral responsibility, members of collectivities define their solidary relationships that allow them to share the suffering of others. Is the suffering of others also our own? In thinking that it might in fact be, societies expand the circle of the ‘we’ and create the possibility for repairing societies to prevent the trauma from happening again. By the same token, social groups can, and often do, refuse to recognize the existence of others’ suffering, or place the responsibility for it on people other than themselves. Empirically, this article extensively considers trauma construction in the case of the Holocaust – the mass murder of Jews by the German Nazis – but also examines trauma processes in relation to African-Americans, indigenous peoples, colonial victims of Western and Japanese imperialism, the Nanjing Massacre, and victims of the early communist regimes in Soviet Russia and Maoist China. (shrink)
Dissociation during trauma lacks an adequate definition. Using data obtained from interviews with 36 posttraumatic individuals conducted according to the phenomenological approach, this paper seeks to improve our understanding of this phenomenon. In particular, it suggesting a trade off model depicting the balance between the sense of agency and the sense of ownership : a reciprocal relationship appears to exist between these two, and in order to enable control of the body during trauma the sense of ownership must (...) decrease. When the relationship between the sense of agency and sense of ownership changes disproportionately to the constraints of the traumatic event, the dissociative mechanism becomes dysfunctional. By contrast, when the relations alter in accordance with the surrounding conditions, the dissociative mechanism functions properly. (shrink)
There is a current effort to borrow the concept of trauma from medicine and psychiatry and to introduce it into sociological theory. The author explicates the notion of cultural trauma as applicable to the theory of social change. He defines cultural trauma as the culturally defined and interpreted shock to the cultural tissue of a society, and presents a model of the traumatic sequence, describing typical conditions under which cultural trauma emerges and evolves. Drawing on the (...) work of Robert K. Merton on anomie, and of Anthony Giddens on risk, he suggests a number of typical strategies by which societies cope with cultural traumas. Cultural trauma is treated as a link in the ongoing chain of social changes; depending on the number of concrete circumstances, cultural trauma may be a phase in the constructive morphogenesis of culture or in the destructive cycle of cultural decay. (shrink)
Recent studies in psychiatry reveal an acceptance of trauma through the media. Traditionally restricted to immediate experience, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is now expanding to include mediated experience. How did this development come about? How does mediated trauma manifest itself? What are its consequences? This essay addresses these questions through three cases: ‘trauma film paradigm’, an early 1960s research program that employed films to simulate traumatic effects; the psychiatric study into the clinical effects of watching catastrophic events on (...) television, culminating with the September 11 attacks; reports on drone operators who exhibit PTSD symptoms after flying combat missions away from the war zone. The recognition of mediated trauma marks a qualitative change in the understanding of media effects, rendering the impact literal and the consequences clinical. What informs recent speculations about the possibility of trauma through media is a conceptual link between visual media and contemporary conceptions of trauma. (shrink)
Cultural traumas are socially mediated processes that occur when groups endure horrific events that forever change their consciousness and identity. According to cultural sociologists, these traumas arise out of shocks to the routine or the taken for granted. Understanding such traumas is critical for developing solutions that can address group suffering. Using the African American community’s response to the not guilty verdict in the Emmett Till murder trial as a case study, this article extends cultural trauma theory by explicating (...) how cultural traumas can arise not only when routines are disrupted but also when they are maintained and reaffirmed in a public or official manner. In so doing, this article analyzes the interplay between the history or accumulation of the “routine” harm at issue, the shocking or unusual occurrences that frequently precede such “routine” harms, the harm itself, and public discourse about such harm’s meaning in cultivating a cultural trauma narrative. -/- . (shrink)
Stolorow and his collaborators' post-Cartesian psychoanalytic perspective – intersubjective-systems theory – is a phenomenological contextualism that illuminates worlds of emotional experience as they take form within relational contexts. After outlining the evolution and basic ideas of this framework, Stolorow shows both how post-Cartesian psychoanalysis finds enrichment and philosophical support in Heidegger's analysis of human existence, and how Heidegger's existential philosophy, in turn, can be enriched and expanded by an encounter with post-Cartesian psychoanalysis. In doing so, he creates an important psychological (...) bridge between post-Cartesian psychoanalysis and existential philosophy in the phenomenology of emotional trauma. (shrink)
Recent models of cognition in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder predict that trauma-related, but not neutral, processing should be differentially affected in these patients, compared to trauma-exposed controls. This study compared a group of 50 patients with PTSD related to the war in Bosnia and a group of 50 controls without PTSD but exposed to trauma from the war, using the DRM method to induce false memories for war-related and neutral critical lures. While the groups were equally susceptible to (...) neutral critical lures, the PTSD group mistakenly recalled more war-related lures. Both false and correct recall were related more to depression than to self-rated trauma. Implications for accounts of false memories in terms of source-monitoring are discussed. (shrink)
Moral injury, the experience of having acted incommensurably with one's most deeply held moral conceptions, is increasingly recognized by the mental health disciplines to be associated with postcombat traumatic stress. In this essay I argue that moral injury is an important and useful clinical construct but that the phenomenon of moral injury beckons beyond the structural constraints of contemporary psychology toward something like moral theology. This something, embodied in specific communal practices, can rescue moral injury from the medical model and (...) the means—end logic of techne and can allow for truthful, contextualized narration of and healing from morally fragmenting combat experiences. (shrink)
Shani Mootoo's Cereus Blooms at Night demonstrates how willful and strategic epistemologies of ignorance interwine. By rejecting a compartmentalized approach to domination, Mootoo highlights the disjuncture between idealized images of family, home, love, and the Caribbean and traumatic events of personal and cultural history. Mootoo not only asks readers to take up resistant questioning, argues May, but also to recognize that epistemology must acknowledge unspeakable and silenced stories to adequately account for multiple ways of knowing.
Although there are very few published studies on the issue, there is much anecdotal evidence that, despite all its undisputed benefits, meditation practice can have psychologically deleterious effects. In this paper I will describe a body-based model for understanding trauma, the Trauma Resiliency model, and suggest it might be a helpful tool in anticipating, preventing and/or mitigating these effects. I will argue that Buddhist traditions are replete with frameworks, tools and techniques for addressing some of the psychological pitfalls (...) highlighted. However, some of these methods may have been ‘lost in translation’ as Buddhist meditation training has been adapted for a Western audience. I will make the case that, somewhat ironically, in operational terms some of the secular modalities for teaching mindfulness may be psychologically ‘safer’ than those offered in a Buddhist context. I will call for further inquiry about how to mitigate and protect against psychological harms in Buddhist meditation training. (shrink)
This article discusses the current ‘popularity’ of trauma research in the Humanities and examines the ethics and politics of trauma theory, as exemplified in the writings of Caruth and Felman and Laub.Written from a position informed by Laplanchian and object relations psychoanalytic theory, it begins by examining and offering a critique of trauma theory's model of subjectivity, and its relations with theories of referentiality and representation, history and testimony. Next, it proposes that although trauma theory's subject (...) matter—the sufferings of others—makes critique difficult, the theory's politics, its exclusions and inclusions, and its unconscious drives and desires are as deserving of attention as those of any other theory. Arguing that the political and cultural contexts within which this theory has risen to prominence have remained largely unexamined, the article concludes by proposing that trauma theory needs to act as a brake against rather than as a vehicle for cultural and political Manicheanism. (shrink)
This paper discusses the political implications of the British military's Trauma Risk Management approach to personnel suffering from combat-related mental debilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Drawing on narratives that emerged from qualitative interviews with trained TRiM practitioners and military welfare workers, I tease out some of the assumptions and beliefs about mental health and mental illness that underpin this mental health intervention programme. I explore TRiM as a biopolitical strategy targeted towards the construction of a particular conceptualisation of (...) mental wellness and militarised masculine personhood. As a biopolitical strategy, I argue that TRiM plays an important role in the construction of ideas around mental well-being and mental frailty that best enable the operation of military power in the contemporary British context. I discuss the narrative of transformation in militarised models of masculinity that emerge from discussions of TRiM, and highlight the important political function that this plays in enabling and legitimating militarism. Finally, I draw attention to the ways in which the focus on individual and cultural factors, rather than war as the primary cause of difficulties for servicemen experiencing psychological distress, functions to neutralise the potential trouble that could be instigated for the British military by the bodies of servicemen psychologically damaged by their experiences of conflict. (shrink)
Ten years after the assault on the World Trade Center, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum was opened to the public. Built amidst the busy financial corridors of Lower Manhattan, the memorial was designed to provide a tranquil space for honoring those who perished in the terror attacks. Yet reading the 9/11 Memorial in terms of public remembrance fails to account for either the ontopolitical impact of the attacks as an event that continues to unfold or the contingent relationship (...) of the monument to modes of narratizing 9/11 trauma. To counter the recuperation of the 9/11 Memorial within nationalist security discourses, this essay employs an object-oriented framework to evaluate how 9/11 texts, political symbols, and memorial components operate as things-in-themselves, retaining individual agency apart from human motivations. Theorizing the signifer of “9/11” as a fiction productive of homogenized affect, I argue that the 9/11-signifier stabilizes the equilibrium of the state by suppressing the agency of objects that propose ways of relating to 9/11 that challenge the “hyperrelational” logic of United States security constructs, whereby all objects are said to be interconnected through a conflation of the marketplace, Constitution, and God. In preserving the material displacement of objects from familiar spatiotemporal locations, however, I contend that the 9/11 Memorial deterritorializes becoming from human subjectivity to withdrawn objectal being, in turn creating space for an uncanny affirmation of difference. (shrink)
Richard Polt takes a fresh approach to Heidegger’s thought during his most politicized period, and works toward a philosophical appropriation of his most valuable ideas. Polt shows how central themes of the 1930s—such as inception, emergency, and the question “Who are we?”—grow from seeds planted in Being and Time and are woven into Heidegger’s political thought. Working with recently published texts, including Heidegger’s Black Notebooks, Polt traces the thinker’s engagement and disengagement from the Nazi movement. He critiques Heidegger for his (...) failure to understand the political realm, but also draws on his ideas to propose a “traumatic ontology” that understands individual and collective existence as identities that are always in question, and always remain exposed to disruptive events. Time and Trauma is a bold attempt to gain philosophical insight from the most problematic and controversial phase of Heidegger’s thought. (shrink)
To date, 1.7 million US military service personnel have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Of those, one in five are suffering from diagnosable combat-stress related psychological injuries including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). All indications are that the mental health toll of the current conflicts on US troops and the medical systems that care for them will only increase. Against this backdrop, research suggesting that the common class of drugs known as beta-blockers might prevent the onset of PTSD is drawing (...) much interest. I urge caution against accepting too quickly the use of beta-blockers for dealing with the psychological injuries that combat experiences can wreak. Beta-blockers are thought to work by disrupting the formation of emotionally disturbing memories that typically occur in the wake of traumatic events and that in some people manifest as PTSD. Focusing on a single dimension of soldiers' experience in combat, namely, their perpetration of other-directed violence, I argue that some of the emotional memories blunted by beta-blockers play important roles in the recovery of moral aspects of soldiers' selves damaged by experiences of combat violence — specifically, in the achievement of a state of grace— and, therefore, that the use of beta-blockers may come with distinct moral costs. (shrink)
This article presents a comprehensive study of the offence of trauma ek pronoias (intentional wounding) in Athenian law. Part I catalogues every occurrence of the words traËma and titr¿skv in the Attic orators and concludes that the requisite physical element of trauma ek pronoias was the use of a weapon. Part II analyses all attested trauma lawsuits and concludes that the requisite mental element of the offence was a bare intent to wound. Part III addresses the procedural (...) evidence for trauma ek pronoias and concludes that the action for trauma was a graphê, not a dikê. Two appendices discuss the use of the terms trauma and pronoia in Plato¿s Laws and Aristotle¿s Rhetoric and a reference to trauma ek pronoias in Lucian¿s Timon. (shrink)
This book analyzes contemporary visual art produced in the context of conflict and trauma from a range of countries, including Colombia, Northern Ireland, South Africa, and Australia. It focuses on what makes visual language unique, arguing that the "affective" quality of art contributes to a new understanding of the experience of trauma and loss. By extending the concept of empathy, it also demonstrates how we might, through art, make connections with people in different parts of the world whose (...) experiences differ from our own. The book makes a distinct contribution to trauma studies, which has tended to concentrate on literary forms of expression. It also offers a sophisticated theoretical analysis of the operations of art, drawing on philosophers such as Gilles Deleuze, but setting this within a postcolonial framework. _Empathic Vision_ will appeal to anyone interested in the role of culture in post-September 11 global politics. (shrink)
This commentary comprises three different responses to Counted and Zock’s article: “Place Spirituality: An Attachment Perspective.” The first response is from Esther Sternberg, MD, who gives a psychophysiological and neuroscience critique. The second is from Altaf Engineer, PhD, from the perspective of architecture and environmental psychology, and the last response is from Hester Oberman, PhD, who gives a psychology of religion rebuttal.
Not only is deception commonplace in medical encounters, according to Christopher Meyers (2021), but the clinical ethicist might have moral obligations to support and even enact deception. Descriptively Meyers is right that there are “opportunistic, self-interested and benevolent reasons” for deception through omission and commission in clinical medicine. But it is possible to retain this premise while rejecting the normative conclusion that the clinical ethicist “should sometimes be an active participant in the deception of patients and families.” One reason to (...) reject the normative conclusion is its incompatibility with providing trauma informed ethics consultation (TIEC). In the TIEC framework I developed with Uchenna Anani, we defend the integration of trauma informed care (TIC) into ethics consultation (Lanphier and Anani 2021). While ethicists narrowly attend to the question and scope of the ethics consults made to them, doing so in alignment with trauma informed principles is tantamount to providing good ethics consultation. According to Meyers, the clinical ethicist is an “advocate for the best ethical choices.” The best ethical choices are also trauma informed ones. (shrink)
This paper seeks to provide a noetic analysis of emotional trauma. It highlights three essential features of trauma, as well as one non-essential feature, and attempts to make sense of them phenomenologically. The first essential feature of trauma that the paper considers is the disbelief that pervades traumatic experience. When traumatized, we cannot believe that the traumatic event has taken place. This is because we will, not for the event not to have happened—we cannot will something that (...) is in the past—but to believe that it did not happen so as to shield ourselves from our painful emotional response to it. The second essential feature of trauma is our inability to distinctly categorially intuit the central state of affairs around which our trauma revolves. The traumatic situation is literally unthinkable by us, for it is incongruent with both our expectations regarding the subject of the trauma and our horizon of sense more generally. The third essential feature of trauma is the temporal disorientation that it brings about. Such disorientation arises from our prolonged and single-minded attention to an increasingly complex categorial object: the traumatic situation. Finally, the paper considers a non-essential feature of trauma, namely, how traumatic experience can motivate phenomenological and scientific reactions. (shrink)
This article examines the way aspects of recent history were excluded in key studies emerging from psychoanalytic social psychology of the mid-20th century. It draws on work by Erikson, Marcuse and Fromm, but focuses in particular on Alexander Mitscherlich. Mitscherlich, a social psychologist associated with the later Frankfurt School, was also the most important psychoanalytic figure in postwar Germany. This makes his work significant for tracing ways in which historical experience of the war and Nazism was filtered out of psychosocial (...) narratives in this period, in favour of more structural analyses of the dynamics of social authority. Mitscherlich’s 1967 work The Inability to Mourn, co-authored with Margarete Mitscherlich, is often cited as the point at which the ‘missing’ historical experience flooded back into psychoanalytic accounts of society. I argue that this landmark publication does not hail the shift towards the psychoanalysis of historical experience with which it is often associated. These more sociological writers of the mid-century were writing before the impact of several trends occurring in the 1980s–90s which decisively shifted psychoanalytic attention away from the investigation of social authority and towards a focus on historical trauma. Ultimately this is also a narrative about the transformations which occur when psychoanalysis moves across disciplines. (shrink)
The trauma-memory argument proposes that memories of childhood trauma can affect adult behavior outside awareness and that such unconscious memories can return to awareness even after long delays. Unfortunately, this conclusion is based on case reports of unknown representativeness and on clinical studies which are methodologically flawed or do not consider alternative explanations. Of particular concern is the general lack of independent verification of the ostensibly forgotten memories. The trauma-memory argument is plausible, in at least some respects, (...) given what we know about the processes of remembering and forgetting, but considerably more research is needed before it can serve as a basis for scientifically sound clinical practice. (shrink)
: Shani Mootoo's Cereus Blooms at Night demonstrates how willful and strategic epistemologies of ignorance intertwine. By rejecting a compartmentalized approach to domination, Mootoo highlights the disjuncture between idealized images of family, home, love, and the Caribbean and traumatic events of personal and cultural history. Mootoo not only asks readers to take up resistant questioning, argues May, but also to recognize that epistemology must acknowledge unspeakable and silenced stories to adequately account for multiple ways of knowing.
Aims and objectives. Participant narratives from a feminist and queer phe- nomenological study aim to broaden current understandings of trauma. Examin- ing structural marginalisation within perinatal care relationships provides insights into the impact of dominant models of care on queer birthing women. More specifically, validation of queer experience as a key finding from the study offers trauma-informed strategies that reconstruct formerly disempowering perinatal relationships. Background. Heteronormativity governs birthing spaces and presents considerable challenges for queer birthing women who may (...) also have an increased risk of trauma due to structurally marginalising processes that create and maintain socially constructed differences. Design. Analysis of the qualitative data was guided by feminist and queer phe- nomenology. This was well suited to understanding queer women’s storied narra- tives of trauma, including disempowering processes of structural marginalisation. Methods. Semistructured and conversational interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of thirteen queer-identified women who had experiences of birthing in rural Nova Scotia, Canada. Results. Validation was identified as meaningful for queer women in the context of perinatal care in rural Nova Scotia. Offering new perspectives on traditional models of assessment provide strategies to create a context of care that recon- structs the birthing space insofar as women at risk do not have to come out as queer in opposition to the expectation of heterosexuality. Conclusions. Normative practices were found to further the effects of structural marginalisation suggesting that perinatal care providers, including nurses, can challenge dominant models of care and reconstruct the relationality between queer women and formerly disempowering expectations of heteronormativity that govern birthing spaces. Relevance to clinical practice. New trauma-informed assessment strategies recon- struct the relationality within historically disempowering perinatal relationships through potentiating difference which avoids retraumatising women with re- experiencing the process of coming out as queer in opposition to the expectation of heterosexuality. (shrink)
The phenomenology of trauma is a historical, epistemological, and methodic inquiry that wishes to test the validity of an already settled dynamic model of surprise as shock-rupture based on its correlated inner structures of attention and emotion. Thanks to an integrative approach, crossing phenomenological subjective experiences and empirical data, we hope to renew the understanding of the blank lived experience of trauma and the passive preconscious dynamics of traumatism, as well as to generate possible therapeutic effects.