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Hayes, G. (1998). We Suffer Our Memories: Thinking about the Past, Healing, and Reconciliation. Am. Imago, 55(1):29-50.

(1998). American Imago, 55(1):29-50

We Suffer Our Memories: Thinking about the Past, Healing, and Reconciliation

Grahame Hayes


“Who is not personally concerned by the truth?” asks Lacan (1977, 118), and while acknowledging the dialectical and transgressive nature of truth in the analytic situation, he suggests that both the analyst and analysand are immensely interested in, and attached to, the truth. The truth of what it means to be a person, to live a meaningful and fulfilled life, to be cured, are concerns which circulate within therapy and circumnavigate the contexts of therapy. Indeed, when it comes to healing, who is not interested in truth? These issues of course are not addressed by floating truth in quotation marks. What is the difference between truth and “truth” besides our cowardice? And how should we approach truth, through its opposite, untruth, or are we better served by the term falsity? If truth is not an absolute, then surely it is to be found in the dialectics of its negation, untruth, falsity, ignorance, meconnaissance. How do we speak the truth, and where are the words to be found? With human experience inscribed and constituted in sociality, how do we locate this truth that we must speak? In other words, the truth is not only elusive, but multiple—personal truth, social truth, historical truth, political truth.

If the task of psychotherapy is conceived of as something more than taking away symptoms, making people cope with the consensual reality of everyday life, and alleviating neurotic misery, to paraphrase Freud, then helping the subject speak the truth becomes a fraught therapeutic and ethical task.

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