Nancy Nyquist Potter

in Trauma, Truth and Reconciliation

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780198569435
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754449 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry


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This anthology thus takes up the subject of how to heal from psychological suffering caused by wrongdoing and oppression at varying levels within society. While the topics covered do not intersect with all forms of mental illnesses, they may nevertheless have implications for mental illnesses. The after-effects of traumatic experiences on psychological health and well-being seem most relevant to questions about the healing power of forgiveness and reconciliation, but trauma is a stressor that can set off mental illness in someone predisposed towards it, as in schizophrenia or personality disorders, so the domain of inquiry should not prematurely be closed off. Further research might broaden the topic of this book to examine these issues in the context of other mental illnesses. For example, does a role exist for forgiveness for a patient with schizophrenia? How is truth-telling complicated when someone is bipolar and cannot seem to distinguish truth and reality when in a manic phase? Does the trauma of imprisonment spark mental illness, and what would constitute healing for the imprisoned person?

The aim of this anthology has been to unpack some of the assumptions concerning the role of moral values in sociopolitical and interpersonal realms of suffering. Contributors focused primarily on truth-telling, story-telling, the rule of law, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restorative justice. If we are to learn to live together after we wrong one another, to restore ourselves to each other and to prevent further harm, we will likely need to appeal to moral values and frameworks; other moral concepts and values than the ones discussed here should also be examined for their potential to heal and reconcile. Guilt and shame, for example, although discussed by authors within their chapters, are not the central focus of any one chapter. Interdisciplinary and cross-cultural work on these and other concepts needs to be done as well.

Finally, this book offers conceptual and philosophical analyses of some salient issues in philosophy of psychiatry. It does not, itself, offer clinical research or its own empirical findings.

Therefore, Trauma, Truth, and Reconciliation: Healing Damaged Relationships needs its arguments tested and extended. It is hoped that readers will join in the expansion of knowledge and understanding in this field.

Chapter.  5747 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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