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Trauma and TranscendenceSuffering and the Limits of Theory$
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Eric Boynton and Peter Capretto

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823280261

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823280261.001.0001

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The Psychic Economy and Fetishization of Traumatic Lived Experience

The Psychic Economy and Fetishization of Traumatic Lived Experience

(p.195) Chapter 9: The Psychic Economy and Fetishization of Traumatic Lived Experience
Trauma and Transcendence

Peter Capretto

Fordham University Press

Trauma theorists have thoroughly named the impossibility of adequately witnessing to the traumatic experience of others. Yet the demand of trauma researchers to study and advocate on behalf of survivors leaves them in a double bind, wherein lowering the ethical standards of their social relation appears not only tempting, but necessary. Through examinations of Freud’s psychoanalytic understanding of the psychic economy of trauma and Heidegger’s phenomenological critique of the concept of lived experience, this chapter argues that trauma theorists in philosophy and religion must be attentive to the fetishization of the traumatic lived experience of others, specifically as a libidinal symptom of our inevitable failure to satisfy the impossible demands of witnessing. This more quotidian attention to our psychic motivation supplements the transcendent task of conceptually understanding the psychic exteriority of others in trauma, thereby elevating the ethical standards the continental philosophy of religion sets for social research into trauma.

Keywords:   Fetishization, Freud, Sigmund, Heidegger, Martin, Lived Experience, Phenomenology, Psychic Economy, Psychoanalysis, Trauma, Witness

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