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Trauma and Narrative: Intersections Among Narrative Study, Neuroscience, and Psychoanalysis -- ABSTRACTS DUE 12/01/09
full name / name of organization:
The George Washington University -- Departments of English, Psychiatry, and Human Science, in association with the Washington Psychoanalytic Society
While trauma and narrative are older than human history, complex understandings of trauma are fairly recent. In recent years trauma studies has become important to diverse fields. Literary and cultural studies examine how narratives of trauma express political oppression, political conflict and symbolic forms for ethnic or national identity. Narratives that testify to trauma may offer a healing or organizing response to pain, but may also inflict traumatic and disorganizing effects for both individuals and political communities. Psychoanalysis examines the registration and fate of traumatic experience in the mind and body, as subject to processes of repression, dissociation, and foreclosure, as it also examines the fate of these processes in producing specific symptoms and effects on personality. In recent decades, in treatment of traumatized persons, the co-construction of healing narratives has come to the fore as a key to recovery from trauma. Neuroscience is mapping the neuronal links of the traumatized brain and is examining how distorted mind/brain interactions influence behavior after traumatic experience. Researchers in many fields argue that trauma induces demonstrable functional changes in the brain and induces, as well, functional changes in the cultural fields responding to traumatic events. These changes, however, are observed and defined differently in specific fields; normally these fields do not exchange information across disciplinary boundaries. This conference will invite different scholars to share new research and explore how different definitions and perspectives on trauma can cross clinical and departmental boundaries. Our goal is to encourage a more nuanced and global understanding of trauma and its effects.