The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

TitleThe Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsYoung, Allan
Number of Pages327
PublisherPrinceton University Press
CityPrinceton, NJ

As far back as we know, there have been individuals incapacitated by memories that have filled them with sadness and remorse, fright and horror, or a sense of irreparable loss. Only recently, however, have people tormented with such recollections been diagnosed as suffering from "post-traumatic stress disorder." In this volume, the authorĀ traces this malady, particularly as it is suffered by Vietnam veterans, to its beginnings in the emergence of ideas about the unconscious mind and to earlier manifestations of traumatic memory like shell shock or traumatic hysteria. In the author's view, PTSD is not a timeless or universal phenomenon newly discovered. Rather, it is a "harmony of illusions," a cultural product gradually put together by the practices, technologies, and narratives with which it is diagnosed, studied, and treated and by the various interests, institutions, and moral arguments mobilizing these efforts.

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