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

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