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  1. 9/11 as a Collective Trauma
  2. A misunderstanding: trauma and terrorism in the '9/11 fiction'
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  5. ISBN 13: 9780881634341

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9/11 as a Collective Trauma

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A misunderstanding: trauma and terrorism in the '9/11 fiction'

It is hypothesized that this behavior services as a narcissistic defense against feelings of marginalization and inadequacy, stemming from experiences of prejudice, loss, and exclusion in the past. It is further hypothesized that there has been an institutional and multigenerational transmission of cumulative traumas that originated with Freud and the European psychoanalysts. The roots and history of the narcissistic defense are examined, as well as its manifestations in American training and practice today.

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Opening with a pointedly uncanny and abject imagery, the initial scene of a car accident leaves the reader with a sense of physical and psychic wounding:. There was no time to think. Trees loomed up, leapt towards her, branches shattered the windscreen, clawed at her eyes and throat. A crash and tearing of metal, then silence, except for the tinny beat of the music that kept on playing. One headlight shown at a strange angle, probing the thick resin-smelling branches that had caught and netted the car.

Capturing the immediacy and confusion of the event, as well as its direct bodily pain and mutilation for the protagonist, Kate, this description offers trauma a basis in material suffering, setting the tone for the rest of the novel. Disabled both physically and emotionally, her condition reaffirms not only the violence of trauma but also an aporia: she appears discomposed by the event, unable to fully describe or place it.

Reading this scene from the novel in light of J.

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Connecting individual personal experiences to prominent global political events, these memories, unbidden, return to Stephen and haunt him in the form of nightmares. This emphasis on the libidinal aspects of trauma, and the ability of trauma to inculpate the sufferer despite his or her victimhood, echoes the perspective of Susannah Radstone, who emphasises the psychic participation of the victim within the traumatic act. An event may prove traumatic, indeed, not because of its inherently shocking nature but due to the unbearable or forbidden fantasies it prompts.

Stephen, entranced by his own ungovernable conscious, is affected not only by memory, but also by libido. The first of these, which begins with an assistantship when Kate takes on Peter following her crash, quickly transforms into something more disturbing. Stephen recognises how he is drawn to Justine despite his own reservations, and sees himself as something of a father figure to her.

The sexual aggressiveness of this passage underlines his libidinal involvement with Justine, which plays a part in deciding his unsettling behaviour. His new eroticism distracts him from his new relationship and from the challenge of coping with trauma through interpersonal and emotional investment.

The second accident scene, as Stephen drives Justine home, builds on this concern, making evident the thin line between violence, sex, and trauma. As Justine snags her neck on a barbed-wire, Stephen responds with an allured fascination:.

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  5. He was hardly aware of the words. He could only stare and stare at the red tear in the white skin. He wanted to put his hand over it. He wanted to touch it with his fingertips. It was as if his mind had been torn, a rent made in the fabric of his daily self and through this rent, slowly, all previous inhibitions and restraint dissolved into the night air.

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    Stephen responds to his condition by refusing to embed himself in personal and romantic relationships, reasoning that it is easier for him to repress and transfer his trauma libidinally than to manage it through emotional commitments. As a result, he detaches himself from other people in order to protect himself emotionally, thereby reinforcing his trauma as a result of this psychic estrangement. He becomes isolated, enclosed in his own interiorised condition and unable to recognise where meaningful relationships might help him to recover. Despite his own hesitations in committing himself to Justine, her attack awakens his sense of responsibility for her, demanding a renewed awareness of personal connection.

    This becomes clear where, following the assault, Stephen declares his love for Justine and experiences his trauma regarding the girl in Bosnia dissipate. The significance of trauma here relates directly to the capacity of the psyche to regulate its occurrence, stepping in through the shock provoked by the abject body where willpower cannot.

    Eagleton argues that:. It is because of the body […] that we can speak of morality as universal. The material body is what we share most significantly with the whole of the rest of our species, extended both in time and space. Of course it is true that our needs, desires, and sufferings are always culturally specific.

    But our material bodies are such that they are, indeed must be, in principle capable of feeling compassion for any others of their kind. It is on this capacity for fellow-feeling that moral values are founded; and this is based in turn on our material dependency on each other. Violence and Phenomenology. James Dodd. Paraverbal Communication in Psychotherapy. James M.

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    ISBN 13: 9780881634341

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