The Politics of Trauma

The Politics of Trauma

We live in a therapeutic society that trivializes trauma. Every day, ordinary people confess their secrets to Oprah, Phil, and Geraldo. In every bookstore, shelves groan under the weight of self-help books that promise freedom from pain. Women who love too much. Men who don’t love enough. Buy a book, find serenity. Purchase a video, melt away your disease.

In late-twentieth-century America, there is no such thing as tragedy or fate. If you just eat right and exercise enough, you’ll live forever. If you have the poor taste to grow old, you can still find absolution through self-improvement programs. Even when natural disaster strikes—a fire or a flood consumes an entire community—a chorus of voices blames sufferers for building on hillsides or too close to the river’s edge.

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Lima