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Int J Group Psychother. 2011 Jan;61(1):26-47. doi: 10.1521/ijgp.2011.61.1.26.

The ethics of trauma: re-traumatization in society's approach to the traumatized subject.

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NYU Postdoctoral Program for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, USA.


The paper starts from a question about the subconscious needs and anxieties which may underlie society's current responses to trauma. In particular, the author argues that the interest in the trauma of torture and man-made violence is a reaction to the increasingly dehumanizing and death-denying culture we live in. After proposing that the various categories of societal responses-the author focuses on evaluation, treatment, and advocacy-to traumatized subjects hide defenses of denial, distortion, refusal, with respect to the challenge of mortality, meaning-making, and mourning, the author then makes the thesis that they can derail and corrupt the project of post-traumatic repair. The paper proceeds with an examination of the ethics and politics that are implicit in contemporary North American society's current approach to trauma. The central argument is that the current approach may contain a collective acting out that often ends up being re-traumatizing to the traumatized subjects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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