Competing Etiologies of Trauma and the Mediation of Political Suffering: The Disengagement from the Gaza Strip and West Bank in Secular and Religious Therapeutic Narratives

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Abstract

The forced evacuation of Jewish Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank in August 2005 (known as the Disengagement) was an extremely controversial political event in Israeli public discourse. This article seeks to explore how political differences in the public sphere were reflected in the professional narratives of mental health practitioners. Based on my field notes documenting the processes of the narration of the Disengagement within various professional settings of Israeli mental health experts, I compare the narratives produced by practitioners who hold different ideological positions vis-à-vis the settlement project. I contend that the political views of practitioners expressed in causal explanations of the Disengagement experience and in the modes of mediation of this experience in order to mobilize empathy with evacuated settlers. By focusing on the professional narration and mediation of the experience of a controversial group of sufferers (“the bad victims,” as they might be called), this research highlights the importance of the anthropological perspective on therapeutic empathy as a socially mediated reflection of the moral experience of health practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-312
Number of pages24
JournalEthos
Volume44
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016

Keywords

  • epistemic cultures
  • mediation of suffering
  • politics
  • therapeutic narratives
  • trauma
  • victimhood

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