last update: 20151225
Questions over gplacesh to spin memories
iGraduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, Ritsumeikan Universityj
Today, I would like to ask Dr. Young some questions that I had whilereading The Harmony of Illusion.
In The Harmony of Illusion, you followed the conceptual history oftraumatic memory, and you considered it from the critical viewpoint of thegplasticity of memoryh.
The core concept of PTSD is gtraumatic memoryh, which is theretention of the facts from the time a trauma occurs. Therefore, it isa testament of an injustice of the past, a deliverer of the truth and isgenerally not thought to change within the present context. Also, this isthought to be a memory deeply hidden even to a person who has it, andto be accessible only by medical specialists.
However, Dr. Young, you point out two reasons why it is not atimeless truth. The first one is the content of the traumatic memory. Thereason is that the individual parts of the traumatic memory depend uponthe current context of the person who retains them, and can be formedafterwards. The second one is the concept of traumatic memory. It has itsown history and it did not exist until clinicians and researchers createdthe practical medicines and techniques prerequisite to the concept. Inother words, even if we sense that the pain is real, and that PTSD is alsoreal now, the conceptual mechanism of PTSD is not unconditionally true.
I have been deeply impressed by this observation. The reason isthat I felt that it speaks to the reality I have felt, through my personalexperience as a psychiatrist.Even if the psychiatric users I have encountered through my job haveperceived situations which could be called traumatic memories, I cannotunderstand them without understanding the usersf current contexts. Theirmemories are newly identified as traumatic memories every time theyare repeated, are given meaning, and are woven up anew. In this way, thememories are continually generated. Therefore, it is not true that theyremain essentially unchanged.
However, this observation is not meant to belittle the value of theusersf experiences or the realness of their pain. Rather, seeing the contextsin which the users are now placed and the social inhibition and the usersfpain that exist therein, has true therapeutic meaning. I also think there isno recovery without questioning their current situations to release themfrom restricted remembering. And I feel that the new memories that theusers create have a much richer role, and that the harm of reducing suchmemories to the position of a mere witness of ascertaining truth needs tobe remembered.On that basis, another thing I wish to ask you, Dr. Young, is how youposition the gplacesh of the spinning of such memories. Currently, medicalspecialists and activists alike seem to focus on the gplacesh. This is becausethere is some hope that new narrative can be spun and new powertoward recovery can be provided within a group of persons with similarexperiences. However, is this an unconditional truth?
In Chapters 5-7 of The Harmony of Illusions, you have describeddetailed accounts of medical specialists injecting ideologies into theirclients. There is also an interaction among persons who have shared the same experiences, and new memories are spun. This is what the medicalspecialists also hoped for. However, this is a situation where the medicalspecialists force persons into the PTSD model they created; that is, onlyone-sided parts of various memories and the other various memories areeliminated. This is an odd and undesirable situation, and I do not feel thatI can affirm it.
However, even if one accepts this, can such a situation be avoidedin case the medical specialists do not control the places? If it is a placewhere only those who have had the same experience exist, will an equaland deep peer relationship arise naturally? Will a various and complexwhole body of a person be accepted? Will appropriate discussion be spun?Perhaps activists want to believe so, but I canft unconditionally affirm this.
The injection of ideology, which contains a mechanism of justification andcan produce resistance, can occur in this kind of place too. There can alsobe a situation in which only a certain side of oneself can be accepted.Upon pointing that out, I would like to look back not as a psychiatrist,but as a gay, and describe the situation within the gay community.This might be a somewhat strange example, but I ask your forgiveness.Because there is a tendency to describe the psychological characteristicsof a minority who have been kept inhibited as complex PTSD orsomething like that, this following representation about gay communityhas something to do with PTSD.
The places to which gays have gathered have changed recently, butthey are still far from monolithic. That is, ten years ago, when I began toassociate with other gays, the disunity was stronger than now. Accordingto my friends, twenty years ago the disunity was even stronger. There hasalways been some demand for such gathering places both in the presentand in the past. In gay activism, there was an atmosphere of looking back on onefs situation and using the concepts of homophobia and heterosexismto make coming-out the single standard of the way to live as a gay. Thiscan probably be called a disproved ideology which seniors have injectedinto newcomers. This ideology certainly taught me about a part of thesocial inhibition I received and helped me to find a way out of it. However,I also felt dissonance and difficulty in escaping from cutting away myexperience and interpreting it in that aspect.
On the other hand, in gay bars, there was a completely differenthabitus and culture. There, we needed the skill to excite ourselves andthe style of being actively separated from greal lifeh. Choosing thatsort of double life was probably ideological. The place taught me someprelinguistic pleasures, and the friends I met there were important tome. However, when I recall the many faces of those people whose namesand jobs I do not know, or when I remember the atmosphere of avoidingtalking about the discrimination and difficulty experienced in real life, Ihad the feeling of collapse, when thinking about who the people therewere and what narration there was.
These two were completely different places. There was a frictionbetween them. I have never seen one ggay communityh where all gayscan gather and associate. Small groups, like isolated islands, are scatteredabout unstably. People just clung to the groups, and that is it. Where in theworld will there be a place which enables us to have an equal and deeppeer relationship occurring naturally? Where will the various and complexwhole body of persons be accepted? Where will appropriate narrative bespun? Such spinning occurs at times, but not unconditionally. In my case,I move between the two spheres of gay activism and gay bars, and I findmyself at different times partially accepting and resisting their ideologies.Being able to have multiple places at the same time is natural for themajority population, but it is not easy for minorities to do so, so I am always conscious of the chances that I have to access different contexts.I would also like to ask you several other questions, Dr. Young.First, formally, is the injection of ideology as you described in TheHarmony of Illusions relatively common? Are there any qualitativedistinctions between good things and bad things?
Second, it seems that the ideology within the gplacesh has two sides;
1) it continually helps the individual to spin a narrative, 2) it forces himto be only recognized within that frame. Are acceptance and exclusioninextricably linked?Third, a minority strongly requires a place of acceptance due to thecontext of the social inhibitions it is placed in. As a result, it is difficultto choose a place in which to speak freely or from which to leave freely.Therefore, the situation of the minority is more difficult than that of themajority. What do you think about this? Is this the reason it is moredifficult for the minority to spin a narrative?
I would like to ask what you think about, the difficulty of gplacesh, Dr.Young.