n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - en (deel I) : enkele teoretiese opmerkings oor slagofferskap binne traumadiskoerse : navorsings- en oorsigartikels

Volume 56 Number 2-2
  • ISSN : 0041-4751



The first of this two-part study sets out to analyse victimhood as an identity marker within the context of trauma discourse. The human subject is described from a Lacanian and Žižekian perspective in order to demonstrate the dynamics of identity formation in terms of victimhood. According to this psychoanalytical approach the subject does not represent an essentialised and coherent unity but rather constitutes a "state of subjectivation" in relation to its signifier (as part of the Symbolic Order).
Subject formation is the result of the subject's alienation and separation from his or her sensate self, through entry into the discourse of the Symbolic Order. The latter represents the attribution of meaning, i.e. a signifier, to the subject, which then becomes its means of orientation. The void opened up in the process of alienation and separation is displaced by the subject's performative affirmation of the meaning its signifier prescribes. The question then is to what extent the subject can choose its own signifier, i.e. meaning, within the Symbolic Order.
Louis Althusser uses the term "interpellation" in order to describe the way in which the meaning of any subject is ("ideologically") configured in advance within the Symbolic Order. The only real "choice" the subject has, is to react to his or her pre-fixed meaning: this would either be the performative acceptance and confirmation of the interpellation, or the challenge of its validity. Hysteria and perversion represent two ways to react to interpellation.
Neither hysteria nor perversion should here be seen as pathological states, but rather as ways to describe the structural relation of the subject to its interpellation. A hysterical reaction manifests when the subject challenges its symbolic investiture or place within the Symbolic Order. Subject formation always constitutes a process of hysterisation, but the conscious coming to terms with this knowledge represents the hysteric approach. The hysteric challenges and questions, but the irony is that the hysteric subject, for all its efforts to find the truth of its own meaning, does not really want to find and conform to its symbolic status. This is because of an innate realisation that the lack brought about by alienation and separation, can never be healed.

In deel I van hierdie tweeledige studie word op slagofferskap as identiteitsmerker binne die konteks van traumadiskoerse gefokus. Die subjek se identiteitsvorming word vanuit 'n Lacaniaanse en Žižekiaanse perspektief omskryf en die "interpellasie" van die subjek as grondliggend tot laasgenoemde se oriëntasie binne die diskoers van die Simboliese Orde beoordeel. Histerie en perversie verteenwoordig twee reaksies van die subjek op enige toegeskrewe identiteit en indien identiteit aan slagofferskap gekoppel word, dus ook twee reaksies hierop. Waar die subjek met 'n histeriese reaksie die slagoffersidentiteit problematiseer, behels 'n perverse reaksie juis die totale verinnerliking daarvan. Deur na LaCapra se onderskeid tussen strukturele en historiese trauma te verwys, kan die verhouding tussen hierdie traumaregisters gebruik word om histerie en perversie in terme van slagofferskap toe te lig. Vervloei die twee met mekaar word 'n perverse reaksie ontlok; word die onderskeid gehandhaaf, is die reaksie eerder histeries. Die hipotese wat volg is dat die universalisering van trauma en slagofferskap in 'n hedendaagse tydsgewrig 'n klemverskuiwing vanaf histerie na perversie fasiliteer.

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