Browse results

Abstract

Chuck Palahniuk’s 2005 novel Haunted presents a group of wannabe writers confined for a retreat. The description of their interaction during confinement intertwines with the short stories they produce, and in both narrative levels, the writers invariably revisit memories of abuse, loss, social displacement and frustration. While confined, they spend part of their time inflicting pain and mutilation to themselves, aiming at the fabrication of new traumas, which they believe will increase the public’s interest in their works and lives. I analyse the representation and fabrication of trauma in Haunted through the manipulation of the body via bruising, (self-inflicted) mutilation, gender and age bending, cross-dressing and exacerbated sexualisation, among others. Jean Baudrillard’s concepts of simulation and hyperreality support the fabrication of trauma in the novel, whereas images of bodies changed by trauma are associated to the three phantasies that, according to Baudrillard, haunt the contemporary world: cancer, terrorism and transvestite.

In: Topography of Trauma: Fissures, Disruptions and Transfigurations

Abstract

The word ‘trauma’, used in everyday language, means a highly stressful event that provokes an interruption of ordinary life and time, such as when one receives a diagnosis of a serious or life limiting illness, or when one is incarcerated. A traumatic event or situation creates psychological trauma when it overwhelms the individual’s ability to cope, and leaves that person fearing death, annihilation, mutilation, or psychosis. The individual may feel emotionally, cognitively, and physically overwhelmed. Trauma comes in many forms, and there are vast differences among people who experience trauma. Using some tools coming from phenomenology, we can say that trauma disturbs the ek-static unity of temporality: it is an ‘event’ that irrupts in the life of a human being, devastating his or her existence. When this kind of ‘event’ enters into a life, everything changes. This chapter focuses initially on a personal journey of trauma, then follows the experience through an empirical research lens of this type of trauma as experienced by the incarcerated. Our analysis will proceed using a phenomenological approach, showing the peculiarity of a phenomenological psychopathology and hermeneutic phenomenology. We focus on trauma as a catalyst for healing. By examining the philosophical aspects of trauma, we can understand the foundations of the traumatic experience. From there we will move forward to show how the theoretical morphs into the psychological by analysing how trauma affects personality. Sociological applications will be addressed, particularly how trauma often leads to incarceration. Finally, the exploration will transverse the journey that several individuals have taken through their diagnoses of life-altering diseases, abuse and neglect that ultimately led to the loss of freedom and the trauma surrounding being incarcerated. Through their eyes, we will follow the journey that trauma takes to healing.

In: Topography of Trauma: Fissures, Disruptions and Transfigurations

Abstract

As a mid-career professional dance artist and emerging scholar, I engage in research focusing on the creation and analysis of choreography through the post-traumatic lens. Originally concerned with the aesthetic impact of psychological dissociation on movement, my creative focus has widened to incorporate recall narratives for abuse-related trauma survivors. In 2015, I completed the creative process and presentation of Scars Are All the Rage, a 30-minute trio commissioned by a major Canadian dance presenter. In accordance with my activist and artistic values, I directed the work for realistic performances, an approach met with much unease from Danceworks, the presenter, who suggested modifications to the piece and disseminated warning advisories about its content prior to its opening presentation. Was this reaction’s foremost outcome the protection of audience members or the weakening of their viewing experiences? Detailing and analysing Scars Are All the Rage’s creative and presentational process, this chapter considers how trauma-related choreographic performances may be optimally contextualised for general audiences.

In: Topography of Trauma: Fissures, Disruptions and Transfigurations
Author: Diedra L. Clay

Abstract

Historically, women’s eating disorders have been denominated with such terms as ‘chlorosis’, ‘neurasthenia’ and ‘hysteria’. Since the 1970s an increase in eating disorders have been noticed, possibly correlated with the general phenomenon of cultural gender role change, posited as attributable to the confusion between the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. The biological term ‘sex’ works for both female and male, while the socially given term ‘gender’ is either masculine or feminine. This traumatic bifurcation implicitly involves a cultural dualism. The theoretical consideration of eating disorders has been likened to the crystallisation of culture, with three cultural axes: the dualist axis, control axis, and gender/power axis. Dualism can be thought of as a denied dependency on a subordinated or traumatised other. Within this frame, human existence bifurcates into two territories or substances: that of the body and materiality, as contrasting that of the mental and spiritual. The body must be escaped from a prison and an enemy with which to struggle. In this battle, thinness represents a triumph of the will over the body. The control axis is informed by the experience of one’s hungers as being out of control. One’s ability to ignore hunger and pain evidences one’s control over one’s own body, often the only control one experiences. The gender/power axis is informed by the experience of one’s ‘female’ portions of one’s body, usually at menarche, as a disgusting appropriation of one’s body by fat. These symptoms emerge as an unconscious protest at the limitations of the traditional female role. Successful interventions with eating disorders take these intersecting factors into account. This chapter will expose the range of current treatment interventions in consideration of the traumatic context.

In: Topography of Trauma: Fissures, Disruptions and Transfigurations
Author: Cassie Pedersen

Abstract

While the term ‘trauma’ was originally used in medicine to denote a wound to the tissues of the body, it has more recently come to refer to the wounding impact of a shocking and overwhelming event on the mind or psyche. Trauma is a phenomenon that ruptures – rather than enters – consciousness; it is a failed experience that cannot be cognitively assimilated at the time of its arrival. Instead, the impact of trauma manifests belatedly in intrusive symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks and other repetitive phenomena that have been classified under the rubric of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (ptsd).

This chapter draws on the theoretical insights of Sigmund Freud, Cathy Caruth, and Jean Laplanche to explicate the dual temporal structure of trauma. I contend that the locus of trauma can neither be posited in the event that brought on the traumatic symptoms, nor can it be situated in the traumatic symptoms that follow. Drawing on the Freudian concept of Nachträglichkeit, I argue that the complex temporality of trauma is a missed encounter that manifests belatedly – so that which occurs too soon paradoxically occurs too late. Instead of privileging the past at the expense of the present (or future), or the present (or future) at the expense of the past, I argue that these extremes are caught up in a reciprocal and dialogic exchange. Accordingly, the past assumes a belated impact on the present and the present retroactively modifies the event of the past. Consequently, trauma bears just as much weight on the present and the future as it does on the past.

In: Topography of Trauma: Fissures, Disruptions and Transfigurations

Abstract

This chapter illustrates how I use an autoethnographic lens and photovoice research methods. These methods act as a tool to engage trauma I experienced resulting from sexual violence. Autoethnography methodology situates the researcher as both the investigator and subject of a given project. As the subject, the researcher reflects on and documents their experience of a specific phenomenon (e.g., sexual violence). The outcome is to create a story-like narrative that shows the researcher’s unique point of view and connects this expertise to wider cultural understandings of the topic. Photovoice is a community based participatory research method that engages community members in taking photographs to illustrate community problems and potential solutions to these problems. Photovoice is not intended to address individual issues like trauma. However, in this chapter, I demonstrate how an autoethnographic approach to photovoice could be used to engage trauma using concepts from Briere and Scott’s basic philosophical approach to trauma treatment. Through this framework, I examine how autoethnography and photovoice foster the intrinsic processing of trauma and cultivate a hopeful outlook on being present with the trauma. The chapter begins with a presentation of my photovoice project. Next, I describe the concepts and methods involved with autoethnography and photovoice. The third section is comprised of a scientific context for sexual violence and trauma. After which I link Briere and Scott’s articulation of intrinsic processing and hope to an autoethnographic approach to photovoice methods. I end the chapter by demonstrating how my photovoice project promotes the intrinsic processing of trauma and generates hope.

In: Topography of Trauma: Fissures, Disruptions and Transfigurations

Abstract

The chaos or the disorder initiated by a traumatic experience/event leaves visible scars on the selves reminding one about a painful lived experience. The human body becomes a space and canvas for the expression of such sufferings. These incidents strike both physical and mental markings on a body and it results in an explosion of questions. Writers in fact consider the body as a tool to communicate the misery and agony of the victims. In this chapter, an attempt is made to identify and record the ‘identities’ that have emerged out of the incidents that have left a mark on the Indian psyche. Narratives on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy and the Endosulfan Tragedy in Kerala are chosen for this study. More than a comparative study of these two incidents, I try to make sense of the physical transformations of the individual bodies that accompanied these tragedies and the resulting identity formations. On one hand, the emerging images of the victims are considered to be ugly and monstrous and they are treated as outcasts in society. Or are we sympathetic towards such individuals? On the other hand, these victims try to live their lives by compromising on a lot of things. My study will explore the strategies employed by the victims to move forward with their lives and obtain justice, and the scheming done by the State. In a larger framework, the presence of such figures in society questions our own existence. The notion of being normal and a life without defects is an abnormality to these people. In such a context, these people find their own ways to fit in which are articulated in the narratives selected for this study. I will be drawing on trauma theory, body criticism and postcolonial theories to substantiate my arguments.

In: Topography of Trauma: Fissures, Disruptions and Transfigurations