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Culture Of Madness Essay

The article “The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” by Allan Young can be seen as partly being history and the other part being ethnography. It details on how Post Traumatic Stress Disorders among Vietnam veterans was treated. Young clearly brings out the methods used for treatment, the group therapy as well as the diagnostic sessions. These according to him were interventions that he got to personally witness hence first hand source of information.

It during his two year stay in Vietnam that the author familiarizes himself with the various professionals working in the hospitals as well as with the patients and in turn gets a first hand glimpse of their post war experiences. The existing boundaries between the patients and the medical personnel were seen as being very unclear same to that between the victimizer and the victims as these groups suffered from PTSD. Allan Young is of the view that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is man made. He therefore tries to explain the role that society and medicine has played in building this disorder.

The book rich fully describes PTSD development within the American psychiatric system. He relates this disorder to the political as well the social context. The book has been marked as that that significantly contributes to medicinal and scientific history. According to Young, memories have been seen to be a great cause of harm in some individuals. This is because of their ability to cause sadness, remorse, horror, fright and even a feeling of complete loss. Individuals facing such experiences have been said to be suffering form a condition known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The author in this case traces this disorder back to the veterans in Vietnam, to the early beginnings when thoughts relating to the unconscious mind emerged as well as to earlier times that marked the initial occurrence of traumatic hysteria. The author is of the idea that that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not a newly discovered phenomenon but a cultural occurrence that has evolved over the years and that has resulted from the various practices, narratives, technoilogies and practices (Young, 1995).

It is through these factors that professionals and other institutions are able to make diagnosis, study as well as treatment for the disorder. Young is of the idea that fear, trauma and grief have over the years continue to evolve in various forms and for many different reasons. The modern society has been said to have a great influence in the promotion of the disorder mainly as a result of the various diagnostic precisions, complicated modern experimental methods as well as institutional pressures.

One major contradiction however arises from these views; it is true and obvious that PTSD is real and that many real people suffering from the disorder are real. Agreeing that the disorder is ac product of history means that it is unreal. The fact about PTSD is empirically brought out by its position in the lives of people as well as by the collective and personal investments made on it. Viewing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the outside, Allan Young fails to powerfully highlight on the day to day methods and clinical data used in dealing with PTSD patients.

The author however presents numerous traditional medical practices. The author does not give practical interventional strategies for this disorder. The article can be seen as one that makes a remarkable contribution to the medicine and medical anthropology and thus helps in making the various intervention measures and the development of solutions to occurring disorders. It creates room for more understanding and for further research to be done. Article 2. The Knot of the Soul: Postcolonial Conundrums, Madness, and the Imagination

The article “The Knot of the Soul: Postcolonial Conundrums, Madness, and the Imagination” by Stefania Pandolfo brings out a case study involving a young and educated man in the early stages of psychosis, psychiatrist dealing with the disorder and the young man’s mother . The relationship between the young man and his mother is that of conflicts and therefore shaky. According to Pandolfo, the young man is not capable of inhabiting any tradition (Pandolfo, 2008). This means that he is in conflict with not just with his inner world but with the true, factual and conflicting truths of the Moroccan post colonial era.

The existing inner conflicts in this case refer to that between the traditional and modern aspects of the world as well as that between native religion and modern science. The author brings out the experiences of the Moroccan people. In her study, Pandolfo refers to the sick young man as one who lives in a knot containing his French as well as Arabic understanding and communication modes related to the various subjective experiences. The problems with psychiatric treatment in Morocco can be traced back in history .

the author creates a picture of the post colonial era and the experiences of the people during that time as well as the results of their horrific experiences. History can in this case be said to highly influence the sick young man’s condition with the post colonial traumas and grief as well as the lack of belongingness being major initiators. Pondolfo points out the patient’s need for care, recognition and for a listening ear while on the other hand finds it impossible to inhabit the various institutional and cultural references related to the healing process.

This the author refers to as a conundrum whose attachment which is completely impossible to break. This conundrum he says deprives an individual of the ability to invoke the reference authority that assigns identity (pandolfo, 2008). According to Pandolfo, the state has not been able to provide proper and effective health care with the post colonial authorities making very little efforts to provide effective health care for the displaced ailing populations today; the provision of quality healthcare for the Moroccan citizens is marked with inequality and loopholes.

Despite the colonial government’s goal to modernize medicine, it failed to plan for and even develop effective and functional social medicine. The author does not give a clear intervention measure or solution to the issue at hand and there fore leaves many unanswered questions as well as gaps in his ideas and perceptions. The ideas presented are however enriching to many anthropologists and can be used to develop workable, concrete and lasting solutions.

The article is hence a useful contribution not just to anthropology but also to history. It also creates room for more research through the identification of the various gaps that can be identified. References Pandolfo, S. (2008) The Knot of the Soul: Postcolonial Conundrums, Madness, and the Imagination. London: University of California Press. Young, A. (1995) The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.


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