This article presents a reflection at the convergence of psychoanalysis, philosophy, and art on the relationships between the construction of memory and different forms of traces of traumatic events. The interactions of psychic and physical, material and symbolic traces of trauma are analyzed to understand their vicissitudes and possible elaborations at the intersection of the individual and the collective.
Starting from an analysis of the psychic processes mobilized by trauma, the conditions of the possibility and the stakes of the work of memory for subjective and social life are examined. The concepts of trace, memory, forgetting, repetition, and remembrance are articulated, through a study of a documentary film by J. Oppenheimer on the Indonesian massacres of 1965 and of texts by J. Améry and I. Kertész that refer to the Shoah.
The traumatized subject suffers in her/his body from the incessant return of physical and psychic, fragmentary and haunting traces, which cannot be considered a veritable remembrance. Memory is a diachronic process that selects, arranges, and transforms traces into a subjectivated remembrance on which the subject can rely to survive trauma. The work of memory as it operates in writing is a particular form of elaboration of the trace: it enacts the possibility of the passage from a somatic inscription of the traumatic event, which destabilizes the psyche, in the flesh of the body to a symbolic and exosomatic inscription of it. This writing allows for a rewriting of an experience at the limits of the humanly possible, of that which, having marked the body, imposes the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of telling and representing that lived experience as history.
The elaboration of memory cannot be considered a strictly individual process. In this ordeal of the elaboration of remembrance, the subject of the trauma cannot be left behind by the other. The work of memory thus always implies a discursive construction of remembrance that calls for examination. In this sense, the archaeologist, the historian, and the therapist can provide the conditions to make this construction possible, or to question it. Nevertheless, most of the memory work consists, from the point of view of the therapist, in the successive positions adopted by the subject at each new remembering.
In writing, the work of remembrance engages the subject, in her/his body of drives, in a construction of the trace through which s/he can preserve her/his integrity in the face of the catastrophe. In this way s/he can remember not to “forget,” but to relieve her/himself of having to bear the traces of the traumatic unrepresentable alone.
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Keywords : Memory, Trauma, Body, Symbolic, Writing
|☆|| Any reference to this article must mention: Patiño-Lakatos G. Trace and Memory of Trauma: From Bodily Memory to Symbolic Memory. Evol psychiatr 2019; 84(3): pages (for the print version) or URL [date of visit] (for the online version).
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