due to a variety of reasons (yes, one of them is Trump!), i picked up my 2012 dissertation this week and happened upon a section that seemed exceptionally timely: “Embodied conflict and permanent fear”. (i’ll go into more about that later, hell i might even upload those pages sometime soon!) for now though, i mention it because my dissertation was in large part a critique of white culture, and i coined the term post-traumatic settler disorder, riffing on the unhealthy shit white folks do because they/we are descended from european settlers who have for generations not dealt with their shit. they/we exhibit all kinds of PTSD-like symptoms, etc., etc. anyway, i came up with a little diagram this week related to that, and while it looks a bit too powerpoint-y i’m going to accept it in all its imperfectness!


4 elements of PTSDE (post traumatic settler dis-ease)

it turns out i was encouraged to alter the term a bit, so i now call it PTSDE: post-traumatic settler dis-ease (see D. Kalsched, 2013, Trauma and the soul, p. 87). there’s more to say about that, too, but enough for now.

here’s the ‘key’ to the diagram:

‘intolerable loneliness’

‘the loneliness of the [white settler’s] migrant condition might be intolerable.’ (P. Carter, 1996, The lie of the land, p. 308)

settlers have embodied cultural loss by distracting themselves from their own pain and inflicting it on others…

‘heavy remembering’

‘Perhaps the most important finding in our study was that remembering the trauma with all its associated affects, does not, … necessarily resolve it. … The essence of trauma is that it is overwhelming, unbelievable, and unbearable. Each patient demands that we suspend our sense of what is normal and accept that we are dealing with a dual reality: the reality of a relatively secure and predictable present that lives side by side with a ruinous, ever-present past.’ (B. van der Kolk, 2014, The body keeps the score, pp. 194-195)

settlers live in a dual world of falsely remembered past and a triggered present…

‘cultural devastation’

‘We live at a time of heightened sense that civilizations are themselves vulnerable. Events around the world…have left us with an uncanny sense of menace. We seem to be aware of a shared vulnerability that we cannot quite name.’ (J. Lear, 2006, Radical hope, p. 7)

settlers fear for ‘their’ way of life, losing sight of (forgetting!) privilege, settlement, false purity, etc…

‘necessary forgetfulness’

‘Settler [white] culture may be constructed on the basis of a necessary forgetfulness.’ (S. Turner, 1999, Settlement as forgetting, p. 37)

settlers really believe ‘their’ way of life is under attack…