From the Rejection of Individual Subjectivity to the Societal Subjectivity of this Rejection

The Example of “New” Post-War Syndromes
By Yann Auxéméry

The clinic is not permanently established within immutable references. The description of “new pathologies”, just like their disappearance, are materialised via a societal context which enables, or not, at a given period in time, various possibilities of expression. This societal subjectivity is exacerbated during wars where the confrontation of impulses rage, sometimes creating “new diagnoses”. “New” clinical entities such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the Gulf war syndrome have been described after many an armed conflict. As well as regularly repudiating the subjectivity of a subject, the characterisation of a disease, which spreads like an epidemic through society, questions the subjectivity of a period. Moving progressively away from standards of misconduct to focus our reflection on the social and individual traumatic subjectivities, we will see that this reflection can be therapeutic for society and its individuals. PTSD is a pathology which interacts with the societal context: on the one hand the trauma is established on the brutal reconsideration of social values which seem immutable and on the other hand, the clinical and nosographical concept of PTSD is changing with the evolution of society. Not being simply universal like a biological reaction to stress but on the contrary singular, tied to social circumstances, the individual trauma of the patient and its theorization by the clinician-scientist are consistent with the subjectivity of both, via the era to which they belong.


  • psychic trauma
  • post traumatic stress disorder
  • mass sociogenic illness
  • post-war syndrome
  • psychopathology
  • neurobiology
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