Mental Illness, Triggers, and Public Safety

The recent attention given to mass shootings has raised many complex issues of individual freedom and public safety – namely, we have no reliable institution means of determining who may commit murder due to neurological/psychological “imbalance.”  Our tools for “diagnosis” and “pathology” aren’t just limited – they are also suspect, given long histories of racism,…

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study: Childhood Trauma Affects School Performance

My questions: Has the ACE Study been addressed by and incorporated into Trauma theory? How can creative writing classrooms recognize and address the results of childhood trauma without exacerbating the situation for at-risk students? Can the medical epidemiology used in the ACE study be used to determine what “counts” as trauma? Does the quantification of…

The Pathology of “they can’t write”

In creative writing, I’ve heard the phrase “writing can’t be taught” so many times.  But the concurrent rhetorics of “talent” only serve to justify why some writers get published and others don’t.  This also undermines any attempts at accountability and “best practices” for teaching creative writing.  It places a “failure to succeed” right on the…

Pathologizing the Other: From Socrates to Vaccination

When I spoke about pathologizing the victim or pathologizing the survivor, what I was thinking about was how we sort people into “us” and “them.”  Unfortunately, we (as a society) frequently do this with “the young” (e.g. students, young adults, Millennials).  In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates pathologizes those who use writing.  He identifies them as individuals who…

Pathology: Normative Bifurcation

In medicine, pathology is the study of disease processes.  Pathologists identify cancer cells, and pathologists determine cause of death.  It’s a very important specialty.  But the pathological turn can also be misused to impose normative standards, leading to artificial bifurcations in the assessment of lived experience. This type of phenomenon would be like the extreme…

Pathology: the Account of Suffered Experience

From Wikipedia article on pathology: Pathology (from the Ancient Greek roots of pathos (πάθος), meaning “experience” or “suffering”, and -logia (-λογία), “an account of”) is a significant component of the causal study of disease and a major field in modern medicine and diagnosis. In my reading, I’m finding this trend where scholars pathologize the attitudes…

Pathology: Hypnosis and Trauma

Ruth Leys focuses heavily on psychoanalysts of the past century-plus in order to illustrate how our societal conceptions of trauma have shifted over time.  Yet so much of what these researchers theorized about trauma was heavily dependent upon their individual beliefs regarding the efficacy of hypnosis.  And this, to me, seems terribly limiting (at least…