資料 Questions over “places” to spin memories
（Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, Ritsumeikan University）
Today, I would like to ask Dr. Young some questions that I had while reading The Harmony of Illusion.
In The Harmony of Illusion, you followed the conceptual history of traumatic memory, and you considered it from the critical viewpoint of the “plasticity of memory”.
The core concept of PTSD is “traumatic memory”, which is the retention of the facts from the time a trauma occurs. Therefore, it is a testament of an injustice of the past, a deliverer of the truth and is generally not thought to change within the present context. Also, this is thought to be a memory deeply hidden even to a person who has it, and to be accessible only by medical specialists.
However, Dr. Young, you point out two reasons why it is not a timeless truth. The first one is the content of the traumatic memory. The reason is that the individual parts of the traumatic memory depend upon the current context of the person who retains them, and can be formed afterwards. The second one is the concept of traumatic memory. It has its own history and it did not exist until clinicians and researchers created the practical medicines and techniques prerequisite to the concept. In other words, even if we sense that the pain is real, and that PTSD is also real now, the conceptual mechanism of PTSD is not unconditionally true. I have been deeply impressed by this observation. The reason is that I felt that it speaks to the reality I have felt, through my personal experience as a psychiatrist.
Even if the psychiatric users I have encountered through my job have perceived situations which could be called traumatic memories, I cannot understand them without understanding the users' current contexts. Their memories are newly identified as traumatic memories every time they are repeated, are given meaning, and are woven up anew. In this way, the memories are continually generated. Therefore, it is not true that they remain essentially unchanged.
However, this observation is not meant to belittle the value of the users' experiences or the realness of their pain. Rather, seeing the contexts in which the users are now placed and the social inhibition and the users' pain that exist therein, has true therapeutic meaning. I also think there is no recovery without questioning their current situations to release them from restricted remembering. And I feel that the new memories that the users create have a much richer role, and that the harm of reducing such memories to the position of a mere witness of ascertaining truth needs to be remembered.
On that basis, another thing I wish to ask you, Dr. Young, is how you position the “places” of the spinning of such memories. Currently, medical specialists and activists alike seem to focus on the “places”. This is because there is some hope that new narrative can be spun and new power toward recovery can be provided within a group of persons with similar experiences. However, is this an unconditional truth?
In Chapters 5-7 of The Harmony of Illusions, you have described detailed accounts of medical specialists injecting ideologies into their clients. There is also an interaction among persons who have shared the same experiences, and new memories are spun. This is what the medical specialists also hoped for. However, this is a situation where the medical specialists force persons into the PTSD model they created; that is, only one-sided parts of various memories and the other various memories are eliminated. This is an odd and undesirable situation, and I do not feel that I can affirm it.
However, even if one accepts this, can such a situation be avoided in case the medical specialists do not control the places? If it is a place where only those who have had the same experience exist, will an equal and deep peer relationship arise naturally? Will a various and complex whole body of a person be accepted? Will appropriate discussion be spun? Perhaps activists want to believe so, but I can't unconditionally affirm this. The injection of ideology, which contains a mechanism of justification and can produce resistance, can occur in this kind of place too. There can also be a situation in which only a certain side of oneself can be accepted.
Upon pointing that out, I would like to look back not as a psychiatrist, but as a gay, and describe the situation within the gay community. This might be a somewhat strange example, but I ask your forgiveness. Because there is a tendency to describe the psychological characteristics of a minority who have been kept inhibited as complex PTSD or something like that, this following representation about gay community has something to do with PTSD.
The places to which gays have gathered have changed recently, but they are still far from monolithic. That is, ten years ago, when I began to associate with other gays, the disunity was stronger than now. According to my friends, twenty years ago the disunity was even stronger. There has always been some demand for such gathering places both in the present and in the past. In gay activism, there was an atmosphere of looking back on one's situation and using the concepts of homophobia and heterosexism to make coming-out the single standard of the way to live as a gay. This can probably be called a disproved ideology which seniors have injected into newcomers. This ideology certainly taught me about a part of the social inhibition I received and helped me to find a way out of it. However, I also felt dissonance and difficulty in escaping from cutting away my experience and interpreting it in that aspect.
On the other hand, in gay bars, there was a completely different habitus and culture. There, we needed the skill to excite ourselves and the style of being actively separated from “real life”. Choosing that sort of double life was probably ideological. The place taught me some prelinguistic pleasures, and the friends I met there were important to me. However, when I recall the many faces of those people whose names and jobs I do not know, or when I remember the atmosphere of avoiding talking about the discrimination and difficulty experienced in real life, I had the feeling of collapse, when thinking about who the people there were and what narration there was.
These two were completely different places. There was a friction between them. I have never seen one “gay community” where all gays can gather and associate. Small groups, like isolated islands, are scattered about unstably. People just clung to the groups, and that is it. Where in the world will there be a place which enables us to have an equal and deep peer relationship occurring naturally? Where will the various and complex whole body of persons be accepted? Where will appropriate narrative be spun? Such spinning occurs at times, but not unconditionally. In my case, I move between the two spheres of gay activism and gay bars, and I find myself at different times partially accepting and resisting their ideologies. Being able to have multiple places at the same time is natural for the majority population, but it is not easy for minorities to do so, so I am always conscious of the chances that I have to access different contexts.
I would also like to ask you several other questions, Dr. Young.
First, formally, is the injection of ideology as you described in The Harmony of Illusions relatively common? Are there any qualitative distinctions between good things and bad things?
Second, it seems that the ideology within the “places” has two sides; 1) it continually helps the individual to spin a narrative, 2) it forces him to be only recognized within that frame. Are acceptance and exclusion inextricably linked?
Third, a minority strongly requires a place of acceptance due to the context of the social inhibitions it is placed in. As a result, it is difficult to choose a place in which to speak freely or from which to leave freely. Therefore, the situation of the minority is more difficult than that of the majority. What do you think about this? Is this the reason it is more difficult for the minority to spin a narrative?
I would like to ask what you think about, the difficulty of “places”, Dr. Young.