1 The Department of Psychology and Educational Studies, Roskilde University2 Subject, Technology and Social Practice, Department of People and Technology, Roskilde University3 Gender, Body and Everyday Life, Department of People and Technology, Roskilde University4 Health Promotion, The Department of Psychology and Educational Studies, Roskilde University
In Denmark and most Western countries the study of “psychological reactions” to trauma has been dominated by the diagnosis Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. The concept is also being widely imported by other countries, as well as integrated in folk-psychological discourses. Yet the use of the concept has been criticised for over-generalisations, as well as for disregarding culture and the embeddedness of psychological problems in situated societal processes. The proposed paper is a contribution to this critique. It will draw on Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic violence (1992). The concept connects the ways we understand and classify behavioural, emotional and cognitive processes, such as gendered practices, to social fields of practice, and points to the consequences of not doing so. In order to develop the analysis of concrete difficulties victims experience Bourdieu’s concept will be supplemented with concepts from a critical psychology of the subject such as situated personal perspectives and meanings as well as participation across contexts of action (Dreier 2008, Holzkamp 1995, Nissen 2005). In doing so, the analysis seeks not only to overcome existing problems in gender studies pointed to by MacNay (1999). It also undertakes a critical discussion of symbolic violence in the meanings given to victimisation and its aftermaths, as when conceptualised with the help of PTSD (e.g. may the use of concepts of this kind and the practices developed in relation to it constitute symbolic violence and contribute to victimisation?) Furthermore the analysis aims at unfolding an understanding of victimisation inclusive of connections between cultural/ societal practices, aspects of symbolic violence and lives of concrete subjects. The discussion takes its point of departure in theoretical deliberations on the personal and social meanings of “trauma” developed in an empirical research project on the aftermaths of victimisation through rape and other forms of sexualised coercion.