last update: 20151225
Changes of Memory
（Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, Ritsumeikan University）
In your books, you talked about PTSD. You talked, for example, aboutthe situation where patients (soldiers) act out“pathological symptoms” indesire for compensation.
First, I would like to talk about my case studies that relate to PTSDand then pose a question.
First of all, I want to consider the issue of memory from my casestudies. In my research I have interviewed rape victims who had beenforcibly impregnated as a result of rape. In some cases they choose tohave an abortion. In other cases they choose to deliver the child (includingcases where they have no choice but to deliver a child because thepregnancy has progressed too much). In Japan, abortion as a result of rapeis legally allowed. There is no atmosphere of hostility towards abortion onreligious grounds, unlike the United States. In fact, the process of havingan abortion is not very difficult, and there is little criticism of those whohave an abortion.
The first case I will introduce is an interview with a staff member of anon-profit organization (NPO) that supports female rape victims. Actually,the NPO mediates adoptions. Since there are few specialized supportinstitutions for the victims of sexual crimes in Japan, rape victims oftenask such organizations for help and consultation.
Among rape victims, there are many victims who tell the NPO thatthey want to have an abortion. If an abortion can still be done, the NPO will introduce a hospital in which a doctor can perform an abortion.However, if it is quite late or too late for an abortion, the NPO help rapevictims deliver their children. Then the delivered child will be basicallyput up for adoption. Based on interviews to staff members, one-third of allthe women they consult actually choose to keep and raise their childrenafter giving birth. However, all of the rape victims choose to give up theirchildren and put them up for adoption. But this does not mean the motherhas no attachment to her child. In fact, among the rape victims whodeliver a child, some will later send birthday presents to the child they putup for adoption.
I will introduce another case. This is from an interview with a rapevictim who was forcibly impregnated by rape and had an abortion. Shecannot still forget her experience of having an abortion, and insists thatshe does not want to have an abortion any more in the future. Of theaborted fetus, she expresses “we should have been together in fate asfellow victims”, “we were the same”, and “I felt so sorry for the baby”.However, when I asked “If you could go back to that time, would you havedelivered the baby?”, she thought about it for a while and responded “Afterall, I guess it would have been impossible to deliver the baby.”
Now I will consider trials concerning rape. If rape victims haveabortions, there is little doubt in the trial that they were truly raped. Onthe other hand, if the rape victims deliver a baby, doubt is raised duringthe trial as to whether a rape actually occurred. In other words, whenthey deliver the baby, their sexual act is thought not as a rape, but as aconsensual act. Regarding this, though a victim might deliver her childand show affection to it, it should not erase the fact that she was a victimof rape. In this kind of situation, even if she delivers and has affection forthe baby, her being diagnosed as having PTSD symptoms enables thepossibility that her past experience can be confirmed as rape.
The memories and feelings of rape victims change every day.Of course, there may be memories and feelings which never change.Rape victims experienced complicated broken, non-monolithic feelings.Concerning the first victim, although she said at first “I want to have anabortion”, she prepared birthday presents for her child on the child’s 2ndor 3rd birthday. Also we can confirm that the latter female victim in theprevious examples who did have an abortion, had a feeling of regret forher past actions (the abortion). Of course, we do not know if she regardedthe fetus as a “fellow in fate” at the time of the rape. She says she does notknow when she began to have that sort of feeling.
Thus, because PTSD functions as “equipment” in the present society,there are some possibilities that “positive felling toward a child shedelivered” and “guilty conscience toward an abortion” might be used toprove that pains for the rape victims are not so serious. (For example,there are no words or disease names expressing “anguish” for the actof giving a present to a child who was born as a result of rape.) Now,some rape victims are asking for a diagnosis or disease like as PTSD.This is because by being diagnosed with PTSD, they can then prove tothemselves and to society that “I didn’t do anything wrong” and “I wasn’t the bad person”. One way of proving this is in court. In the justice system,whether a person is admitted to have PTSD or not is highly influential onthe outcome of the trials. In Japan, PTSD diagnosis is thought to be of thatlevel of importance, and is seen as objectively true.
If rape victims wish to win a suit, they need to keep silent againsttheir real feelings which involve positive aspects of delivering or negativeaspects of abortion as a result of rape. In your writings, you mentioned“pathological symptoms.” If these victims acted in order to be diagnosedwith PTSD, I would have an extremely easy time. They could do so bysaying things such as “I never want to see a child like that again”, or “I regret having delivered the child”. However, this is a certainly not adesirable trend, and one can assume that the rape victims do not wantto win in court with their own emotions distorted. They would like to benaturally recognized as rape victims.
Though I know the complexity of victim’s broken experiences verywell, when a victim pursues a win at court, I have no choice but to makeuse of PTSD equipment as a supporter. However, as a victim supporter, I can understand the irony of this. That is, the more I make use of PTSD equipment, the more PTSD may bekept.
For the more we make use of the PTSD equipment, the morerape victims’ positive feelings are neglected although they are actuallyimportant aspects of their experience. As a result, the real complexity ofthe rape victims is being reduced in the end.
And, ironically, though the supporters know the rape victims’ realcomplexity of the situation, we are in a kind of trap. We have no choicebut to make use of the PTSD equipment “strategically”.
To the situation of this trap, I was wondering how we could criticallyexamine this kind of situation. What do you think about these criticalexaminations ？
□立命館大学グローバルＣＯＥプログラム「生存学」創成拠点 20080229 『ＰＴＳＤと「記憶の歴史」――アラン・ヤング教授を迎えて』，立命館大学生存学研究センター，生存学研究センター報告１，157p. ISSN 1882-6539