Life Writing Authorizes Trauma

Maurice Stevens points out how trauma has long fallen on gendered and racial lines.  The litigious nature of traumatic experience constrains the resulting “in group.”  In the past, railroad companies would employ lawyers in the effort to avoid blame by reducing the number of individuals who could be considered injured (CITATION Stevens) – likewise, Euro-Americans have long redefined Native cultures in ways to minimize the tabulation of losses.

Tim O’Brien points out that narratives sometimes need to be adjusted in order to cultivate understanding among those who “weren’t there,” but such self-reported narratives then become subject to hyperbole and fabrication.  In the cases of Stoken Valor and Tania Head, the desire for attention and “recognition” leads to misappropriation of such narratives for the sake of personal gain.  Julie Gregory shows that her mother also used such appropriation of suffering to gain attention among doctors through Munchausen by proxy.

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