Event Report: "Pre-events" for Inviting Dr. Boris Cyrulnik

published: 2015-10-19

On November 2nd (Monday) and 3rd (Tuesday), 2015, the Research Center for Ars Vivendi at Ritsumeikan University is planning to invite Dr. Boris Cyrulnik, a French psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, and hold a symposium tentatively entitled “From Trauma to Resilience”. Looking ahead to this symposium, from May to July of 2015 three “pre-events” were held under the direction of Professor Masahiko Nishi of the Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences at Ritsumeikan University.

At the pre-event entitled “On the Practical Potential of the Concept of Resilience” held on May 30th (Saturday), 2015, Masahiro Hayashi, translator of Dr. Cyrulnik's books Sauve-toi, la vie t'appelle and Je me souviens…, was invited as a speaker and Yoko Yamada, Professor of the Kinugasa Research Organization at Ritsumeikan University, was invited as a commentator. Mr. Hayashi talked about his own experiences and the difficulties he encountered on the road that led from obtaining the translation rights from Dr. Cyrulnik, with whom he was able to develop a close relationship, to the eventual publication of his translations in Japan. Mr. Hayashi's vivid account of his struggle to make the Japanese translations of these books a reality in the face of numerous rejections from publishers was itself a moving demonstration of “resilience”.

At the pre-event entitled “Trauma and Hospitality” held on June 28th (Sunday), 2015, Hiroshi Oda, Associate Professor of Graduate School of Letters at Hokkaido University, was invited as a speaker and Kuniko Muramoto, Professor of the Graduate School of Science for Human Services at Ritsumeikan University, was invited as a commentator. Professor Oda introduced cases in which people spoke about their own experiences after the holocaust in their own voices. Referencing these examples, he then discussed creating a “place of being” for trauma where its transformation can occur by providing a “place” that welcomes the experiences of others. Talking to younger generations about such horrible events creates hope that such things will “never again” occur, and for the person doing the talking this act is connected to his or her liberation from the past. This kind of welcoming rebuilds the interconnectedness that has been severed and dehumanized by the traumatic event of the holocaust.

At the pre-event entitled “Narrative of Rain and Soil” held on July 5th (Sunday), 2015, Hideaki Matsushima, Professor of the School of Human Cultures at the University of Shiga Prefecture, was invited as a speaker and Professor Yoko Yamada was invited as a commentator. Professor Yamashita, who found resilience in “rain settles the soil” – a phrase that expresses the process of achieving a good adaptation after encountering adversity, considered the question of whether the concept of resilience might be applied in the juvenile delinquency cases in which he himself has been involved as a clinical psychologist, and introduced several of these cases as part of his presentation. He argued that resilience is a collective change that does not stop at the individual, and that in order for it to arise what is important is not an adherence to a single methodology but rather that those around a delinquent youth engage with him or her in a flexible manner.

At each of these events, after the speaker's talk had concluded he took part in a conversation with the commentator, and participants whose research touches on similar themes then added their own questions and opinions to the discussion. Through these three pre-events, all of the participants were able to look ahead to the symposium to which Dr. Cyrulnik is invited and expand their idea of how they themselves will be involved. This has fostered a desire to examine the “resilience” that arises in those who have experienced tragic and traumatic events and shown the strength to carry on, and to experience the process by which the potential of this concept continues to be developed.

(The original report in Japanese is prepared by Dr. Mariko Konishi, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Research Fellowship for Young Scientists PD/Visiting Researcher of the Research Center for Ars Vivendi, Ritsumeikan University. It is translated into English by the Research Center for Ars Vivendi, Ritsumeikan University.)