An Inquiry into the Condition of Victimhood
Tells the story of how the traumatic victim became culturally and politically respectable, and how trauma itself became an unassailable moral category. Revealing how trauma has come to authenticate the suffering of victims, this title provides critical perspective on some of the moral and political issues at stake in the contemporary world.
Today we are accustomed to psychiatrists being summoned to scenes of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, war, and other tragic events to care for the psychic trauma of victims - yet it has not always been so. The very idea of psychic trauma came into being only at the end of the nineteenth century and for a long time was treated with suspicion. "The Empire of Trauma" tells the story of how the traumatic victim became culturally and politically respectable, and how trauma itself became an unassailable moral category. Basing their analysis on a wide-ranging ethnography, Didier Fassin and Richard Rechtman examine the politics of reparation, testimony, and proof made possible by the recognition of trauma. They study the application of psychiatric victimology to victims of the 1995 terrorist bombings in Paris and the 2001 industrial disaster in Toulouse; the involvement of humanitarian psychiatry with both Palestinians and Israelis during the second Intifada; and, the application of the psychotraumatology of exile to asylum seekers victimized by persecution and torture.; Revealing how trauma has come to authenticate the suffering of victims, "The Empire of Trauma" provides critical perspective on some of the moral and political issues at stake in the contemporary world.
Preface to the English Edition xi Introduction: A New Language of the Event 1 PART ONE: The Reversing of the Truth 13 CHAPTER ONE: A Dual Genealogy 25 The Significance of a Controversy 27 The Birth of Trauma 30 Labor Laws 34 CHAPTER TWO: The Long Hunt 40 Cowardice or Death 41 The Brutalization of Therapy 43 After the War 50 A French History 54 CHAPTER THREE: The Intimate Confession 58 War Psychoanalysis 59 A Profitable Sickness 64 Victims of the Self 66 The Issue of Survival 70 CHAPTER FOUR: An End to Suspicion 77 Women and Children First 78 The Consecration of the Event 84 The Last Witnesses 88 The Humanity of Criminals 93 PART TWO: The Politics of Reparation 99 CHAPTER FIVE: Psychiatric Victimology 107 Victims' Rights 108 The Resistance of Psychiatry 115 An Ambiguous Origin 119 A Relative Autonomy 124 CHAPTER SIX: Toulouse 128 The Summons to Trauma 130 Emergency Care in Question 135 Inequalities and Exclusions 140 Consolation and Compensation 148 PART THREE: The Politics of Testimony 155 CHAPTER SEVEN: Humanitarian Psychiatry 163 One Origin, Two Accounts 164 In the Beginning Was Humanitarianism 171 On the Margins of War 177 The Frontiers of Humanity 183 CHAPTER EIGHT: Palestine 189 The Need to Testify 192 The Chronicles of Suffering 197 The Equivalence of Victims 203 Histories without a History 209 PART FOUR: The Politics of Proof 217 CHAPTER NINE: The Psychotraumatology of Exile 225 The Immigrant, Between Native and Foreigner 226 The Clinical Practice of Asylum 231 A Change of Paradigm 236 The Evidence of the Body 242 CHAPTER TEN: Asylum 250 The Illegitimate Refugee 252 Recognizing the Sign 258 The Truth of Writing 264 The Meaning of Words 269 CONCLUSION: The Moral Economy of Trauma 275 Bibliography 285 Index of Names 299 Index of Subjects 303