Understanding PTSD beyond Good and Evil: a (Lacanian) Reflection on Jonathan Shay.

achielleMy encounter with Jonathan Shay’s Achilles In Vietnam was almost accidental. I had never heard before of Moral Injury and, perhaps, not many people outside the circle of professionals have heard or read about it. One day my wife, who works with the veteran community, mentioned that a training/presentation on the idea of moral injury would take place at the VA. I am not an expert on PTSD or trauma studies in general. Nevertheless, my almost two decades long interest in psychoanalysis, and my life long training in literature and philosophy, naturally induced me to explore further this fascinating idea. My first exploration of his research took place online. I found a video in two parts where Dr. Shay summarizes his idea of moral injury. Since my wife has worked for the VA, my knowledge of the veteran community has grown deeper and stronger, and my overall understanding of the toll paid by soldiers and their families has increased accordingly. There is, however, an insurmountable gap of knowledge between those who read about veterans with PTSD and those who work close with them in any capacity:  this is not just a difference in the degree of comprehension, but a profound demarcation between what is visible and what is invisible to the common eye. Psychiatrists, social workers, and health professionals who work with veterans with PTSD handle the consequences of invisible wounds. Continue reading

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Lacan, Orwell, and the Illusion of the Big Br-Other

1984-John-HurtIt is perhaps redundant and obvious to say, with the hindsight of the 20th century, that Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, turned out to be quiete exact and uncannily accurate: a judgment so obvious and redundant that it was assimilated in our collective literary imagination as something “given.” Continue reading

Lacan, my Wife, Humanities, and John Lennon, (or “When I Wake Up Early in the Morning”)

JohnLennon (1)John Lennon used to sing:

“Please don’t wake, no don’t shake me, leave me where I am, I am only sleeping”

I always liked this song and, over the years, the reasons why I still do have deeply changed. Like everybody else, I attached emotions, memories, and entire sets of thought to this song (and many others of course). The effect this song has on me today, though, is quite peculiar. I don’t just recollect old memories, but I get once more to experience a specific feeling I used to have around 2005-2006 when I lived in Munich, Germany. I remember this song was part of a playlist I would play in the morning while sipping coffee in my tiny apartment in the east side of the city. I remember there were tons of Beatles songs on that list, especially from Sgt. Pepper and the White Album. “I am only sleeping” does not simply remind me of places, thoughts, objects and people, but, above all, it evokes a state of mind that I felt slowly vanishing over the years. Continue reading

Don’t forget us, Carlos Tevez.

The new Argentinian forward of Juventus FC, Carlos Tevez, celebrates with supporters at the headquarters of Juventus in Turin, Italy, 26 June 2013., ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MARCO

I vividly remember the first time I saw Carlos Tevez in action. It was the Fall of 2003 during the Intercontinental Cup final played by Boca Juniors and AC Milan (that gained access to that final defeating Juventus in the Champions League final in Manchester). I remember the commentators spending words of praise for a player that was considered a rising star of Argentinian soccer. The career of Carlos has been long and rich of both satisfactions and disappointments. When in the summer 2013 the management of Juventus signed Tevez from Manchester City, only a few, including me, saw that signing as an excellent deal. Continue reading

A Typewriter and a Renaissance Man’s Libido

images My beloved wife decided to buy me a typewriter. Not an old school one (expensive and always needing lot of careful maintenance) but a more modern electronic typewriter that can get the job done just fine. Why?  Continue reading

Kant, Schlegel, Derrida, and Negative Representation

JacquesDerrida

What happens when the philosophical investigation reaches its limits? Why does the philosophical investigation strive to cross these same limits? How does such striving change the philosophical investigation itself?

I will give a very general outline of these problems as a preparatory work for future posts on the negativity in dialectical logic and more specifically in dialectic materialism. My focus is on three authors: Kant, Friedrich Schlegel, and Derrida viewed in their common effort to represent the unrepresentable or at least to define, within the horizon of what can be represented, the nature of the unrepresentable.

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Canetti and the Auto-da-fé of the Modern Reader

auto de feCanetti’s “Auto da fé” was an excruciating reading, a literally painful experience from beginning to end. Rewarding, for sure, but disturbing nevertheless and deeply unsettling. I have always believed in the right of a reader to simply toss a book away if the narrative would simply not get a grip on him.

In the case of Canetti’s novel, I had to resort to a form of unconscious trust in the perspicacity of the author. Like many readers, I came to know Canetti first and foremost through his opus magnus “Crowds and Power.” I had no expectations to find in the novel any diluted version of the sociological/political theories to which Canetti owes most of his fame, but I was somehow confident to find the same voice, the same insightful gaze. Instead, from the very inception of the novel, I was placed in the midst of a very dry and aseptic narrative landscape, where a man and a boy are engaged in an unusual conversation: Continue reading

Macondo

340x340x100-anos-soledad11.jpg.pagespeed.ic_.qY0ExExh3L1I was lying in bed in a warm night of August when I turned the last page of Marquez’s One hundred years of solitude. The end of the novel, as all its readers know, is the end of an entire world. Literally.

I found myself wondering about what arcane reason had kept me away from that book until the age of thirty-five. That was my first thought. Why not sooner? And for the first time I could see my thoughts in the past, during my high school time, growing magically different, softer, more apt to conceive the magic of life and death beyond the philosophical constraints of understanding, of the search for a meaning. I remembered my nights with Dostoyevsky and his devils, the exhausting conversations with Kirillov, Myskin, Stavrogin, Ivan and Aleosa Karamazov. I recalled the decadent and languid art of Dorian Grey and Des Esseintes and how they taught me to paradoxically despise any excess of wealth. I recollect the shadows, the smells, and the smoky rooms of Paris traversed by an unfathomable spleen. And right there, in the midst of my vision of the dying cities which set up the architecture of my imagination for so long, right there I wished I could find a place for Macondo. Continue reading

Kurtz and the Silence of the Horror

Annex-Brando-Marlon-Apocalypse-Now_16-e1418881299292The echo of Kurtz’s final words resonates clearer and louder than ever. The horror. The horror. The last whispers of the charismatic and ruthless leader are the seal over the experience of the absurd violence ruling human existence. The horror is not the fear of a guilty consciousness, nor the cry of an agonizing body, but the final enlightenment of a man who lived beyond the customs of an ordinary society and made a king of himself in the midst of the jungle. What horror? Is it the colonization and transformation of the jungle into a profitable land? The slaughter of animals for the decoration of imperialist wealthy houses in the old continent? The annihilation of a “savage” culture in the name of civilization? Perhaps. Continue reading