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Confronting the Truth of the Erinyes: The illusion of Harmony in the Healing of Trauma

Becker, David
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) In, Tristan Anne Borer, editor, Telling the Truths: Truth Telling and Peace Building in Post- Conflict Societies. Notre Dame: University Of Notre Dame Press. pp.231-257

This chapter provides an analysis of how confusion about such concepts as truth, justice, trauma, and healing lead to false expectations by both victims and society about the nature of reconciliation and the extent of reparation possible in the aftermath of human-made disasters. It offers a conceptual framework for understanding the wounds of the victims and then discusses healing in reference to expectations, aggression, society and mourning. After a brief introduction to the myth of Orestes and the Eumenides, I first define the central characteristics of the wounds of victims. If truth and justice are to be significant, they must help the victims in some way. We have to understand their suffering if we want to analyze the functions justice and truth telling serve for them. Consequently, conceptualizations of trauma are discussed. Recognizing the need to always analyze trauma in reference to the context in which it occurs – that is, understanding it as a psychosocial concept within a cultural paradigm – I proceed to explain the usefulness of Keilson’s concept of sequential traumatization as well as the severe limitations of the better-known concept of post-traumatic stress disorder. (excerpt)


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