This is from a book review by Meehan Crist of The New Wounded by Catherine Malabou
In order to shift traumatic etiology from “sexuality” to “cerebrality,” Malabou turns to the traumas inflicted by war. At the start of the 20th century, “war neuroses” manifested in symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, tics, and paralysis were considered “neurotic” responses to psychological stress. Modern medicine, however, has come to understand war wounds such as PTSD and traumatic brain injuries as originating from the traumatic event itself, not from an individual’s particular psyche. For Malabou, the association of psychological problems and physical wounds demonstrates “the impossibility of confusing traumatic factors and psychoneurotic factors.” This conclusion is meant to be applicable to all “wounds” of “traumatic accident,” including diseases that senselessly attack the mind, such as Alzheimers.
The second crucial term elucidated in this book is “destructive plasticity”—the creation of a new identity through destruction of the old one. It is almost as hard to pin down as “cerebrality.” How can we say that a person’s identity is totally erased by trauma? In anticipation this very question, Malabou reaches for wounds on the farthest end of the severity spectrum. Here, she quotes Crocq:
If we ask patients about their experiences of these changes of personality, we observe that this is no metaphor. The patients find themselves equally changed; they no longer recognize themselves as they were before. And this is not simply due to the fact that they are sad about having undergone a difficult event; it is, more profoundly, on the level of their entire way of living, that they come to realize that a new being is within them, a being whom they do not recognize.
The idea is that the dysfunction that follows trauma cannot arise from meaning buried in that old, obliterated self. The old onion of the psyche, with its layers upon layers of meaning, is simply not there to peel apart in analysis; rather, it has been replaced by a new self, which requires a different clinical approach. Malabou seeks to redefine not only traumatic etiology but also to radically revise our understanding of the injured subject.
Malabou is a philosopher. An important point in the current wave of mind and brain analysis, and what constitutes the self and consciousness, by philosophers and neuroscientists. Thus far, yes I’m keeping a mental score of sorts, I see the neuroscientists ahead. Too many of the philosophers want to inject some kind of mysticism into what constitutes the mind – the mind that may turn out to be as simple or complex, depending on one’s point of view, as personality. That which is created by the brains interaction with it’s environment. This is tricky ground because the philosophers are generally not regressing in total to the material brain versus the immaterial mind of René Descartes. Most of the philosophers acknowledge that without the brain and real neurons, there is not much in the way of the mind. Yet, almost like an aura, they also want to see some ethereal glow about the brain, that is part of the mind, the part that is not organic and material, but separate. That which is mysterious and complete understanding of it, beyond the reach of reductionist materialism. The study of trauma is not a bad way to understand changes in the mind. Those changes come about by changes in the brain. The brain does not have to suffer physical trauma – like a blunt force – to change. Our interactions with the environment change the brain. As Malabou notes, so much so they some people begin to see themselves almost like they see a stranger. They can remember what they used to be in addition to this new person that emerges from trauma. As an event trauma makes some delineating point easier to define in terms of the first self compared to the new. I tend to think that much subtler events can cause that kind of change. So subtle that it results in that new moments of recognition we have. You’re twenty-one and look in the mirror and you do not see the same physical you or the you of the mind as you did just a few years ago at fifteen. Maybe when you’re thirty you notice how hard you take some news compared to when you were twenty-five. What changed you. The thousands of conversations you’ve hand. The number of commuter traffic jams you have been in. The number of songs you have heard. The books you have read. The jobs you did not get, the raises you did. Maybe it was marriage or the lack of any real meaningful relationships. Those feelings are not the “ghost in the machine”, they’re the psychosocial elements of life materially rewiring your brain.
Something related in the way of a wonderful essay, Ghost World (Like a Bad Dream) By Masha Tupitsyn
Sometimes you watch a movie and it grieves beside you, or with you, and you grieve beside or with it. The pain you feel takes solace from and residence in the pain onscreen. You go to the screen just for that. For a space that is interested in the space of pain.
Previously I mistakenly said this was a fiction piece, sorry about that.
Edward Penfield. Three Gringos, 1896. Penfield has been called the father of the American poster. While the art quality of this poster is up for discussion, I liked it for being a very early example of pulp-fiction like art that appealed to a mass audience based on an element of prurient titillation. A book cover art style that would become very popular starting in the 1940s.
Will H. Bradley. Bradley: His Book, “The Kiss,” 1896. Bradley was also an art father, that of Art Deco. he was one of, if not the highest paid commercial artists of the era. In case anyone was wondering, this poster was not inspired by the famous painting by Gustave Klimt. Klimt painted his “The Kiss” in 1907-08. If anything, Klimt may have been influenced by Bradley. Though I’m not sure of a connection. Myths about females and amorous encounters with animals had been around for centuries.
Ernest Haskell. Truth, Christmas 1896. Haskell was born June 30, 1876, in West Woodstock, Connecticut. An exceptionally good artist, illustrator and print maker. Also ahead of his time in terms of stylized representations of illustrated people in a way they we would categorize as modern. This magazine cover looks like something you might see on a new Yorker cover or a travel magazine. Truth was an pretty ambitious pop-culture magazine for its time (1881-1905).
Not that they’ll listen, A Letter to Conservatives. They already busy planning their move so far to the Right, they’ll soon be running for office on the moon.
Nomination for funniest most delusional after election tweet: @TedNugent
“Goodluk America u just voted for economic & spiritual suicide. Soulless fools”
@DavidGrann picked up this tweet: @SarahPalin cites 2 Corinthians 4:8-9: “We are..persecuted but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed.” http://fb.me/NdKl6OoN
I used to think mass hypnosis was ridiculous. I’m reconsidering since apparently millions of people can all suffer from the same martyr complex at the same time.
The South American altiplano is the 2nd highest mountain plateau in the world, slide-show.
“A widow and and a widower find love once again in their 70s. A look at romance in an age group that we don’t associate with new beginnings.”