Ruth Leys Trauma : A Genealogy

ISBN 13: 9780226477657

Trauma : A Genealogy

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Psychic trauma is one of the most frequently invoked ideas in the behavioral sciences and the humanities today. Yet bitter disputes have marked the discussion of trauma ever since it first became an issue in the 1870s, growing even more heated in recent years following official recognition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In a book that is bound to ignite controversy, Ruth Leys investigates the history of the concept of trauma. She explores the emergence of multiple personality disorder, Freud's approaches to trauma, medical responses to shellshock and combat fatigue, Sándor Ferenczi's revisions of psychoanalysis, and the mutually reinforcing, often problematic work of certain contemporary neurobiological and postmodernist theorists. Leys argues that the concept of trauma has always been fundamentally unstable, oscillating uncontrollably between two competing models, each of which tends at its limit to collapse into the other.

A powerfully argued work of intellectual history, Trauma will rewrite the terms of future discussion of its subject.

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About the Author:

Ruth Leys is the Henry M. and Elizabeth P. Wiesenfeld Professor Emerita in the Humanities Center at Johns Hopkins University.

From Library Journal:

In this psychohistorical survey of the traumatic 20th century, Leys (Humanities Ctr., Johns Hopkins Univ.) shakes up scientists, clinicians, and postmodern literary gurus with an erudite and humbling critique. This key document for psychoanalysis and hypnosis as well as trauma studies and intellectual history is based on the author's in-depth research and strong background in the history of psychology. In eight chapters (three of which have appeared in scholarly journals) that traverse Freud, multiple personality (Morton Prince), war neuroses and malingering (S ndor Ferenczi, Abram Kardiner, Pierre Marie Janet, William Walters Sargant), posttraumatic stress disorder, and literary theory (Bessel van der Kolk and Cathy CaruthDboth of whom she dismantles), Leys elaborates on "tensions between mimesis and antimimesis" in competing theories and treatments of trauma. Leys uses Freud critic Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen to good effect and writes clearly and emphatically enoughDespecially in the introduction and conclusionDto be forgiven some lapses into academic gibberish. This is for sophisticated readers. Highly recommended for academic collections in psychology, medicine, history, literary criticism, and philosophy and for larger general libraries.DE. James Lieberman, George Washington Univ. Sch. of Medicine
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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