Psychoanalysis in our Time
Representing the Un-representable
The ‘Other’ Trauma: racism and its repression
Ursula Troche, Postcolonial Psychoanalytic Performance Poet and Philadelphia Association: email@example.com
In this paper, I seek to link two discourses around otherness which have developed quite separately: the psychotherapeutic otherness discourse and the postcolonial otherness discourse within cultural studies. I believe that the psychotherapeutic discourse on otherness has much to gain from the postcolonial one that this combined consideration would enrich specifically the debate around dealing with trauma in psychotherapy, as well as on a societal level.
Whereas the psychotherapeutic otherness discourse is centred above all around Lacan, its ‘postconial counterpart’ is centred around theorizing race and the impact of colonialism on society at large. The Other here refers to the excluded, and his/her experience of exclusion, as alienation, un-belonging, negation (see Fanon 1963, Bhabha 1986, Hall 1990). Due to colonialism having been a structural project, subjectivity and identity, then, are marked by living otherness. (see eg Mama, 1995). This is experienced most strongly by those who have historically been both colonised and racialised.
At this point the enquiry into trauma comes in: here I will show how, in ‘postcolonial otherness’, the Lacanian, and Hegelian, distinction between self and other is erased and merges into one. This is a crucial conceptual link, and accounts for sites of distress, very similar to what both Potamianou (2011) and Laing (1961) have described; the link to which I will make in this paper.
In trauma here, it is also worthwhile to look at group dynamics: if people are socially ‘othered’, what does this mean for Bion’s assertion of ‘assumptions within the group?’ Here I will show how assumptions have traumatic effects, by consolidating socially constructed hierarchies, as well as repression of a desire to speak out.
I will then show how psychoanalysis a radical philosophy can help reveal and challenge the hierarchies described, represent against silence, and thereby contribute to more understanding and reduction in trauma.
Ursula Troche – biographical note:
My studies include Intercultural Therapy at Goldsmith’s College, London. Since then I have been giving papers at conferences and most of my work, both theoretical and practical, is broadly based on intercultural and therapeutic themes.
I write and perform poetry and give workshops, many of them therapeutic writing workshops, some of them in daycentres. Performances include the Human Rights Festival and the Colour of London Festival; Poetry collections include ‘Embraceable – Notes from Different Places called Home’.
I am also on the the Introductory Course of the Philadelphia Association for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.