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Horovitz, M. (2014). Y Vos, Sabes Quien Sos? [And You, Do You Know Who You are?]. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 95(3):579-585.

(2014). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 95(3):579-585

Film Essay

Y Vos, Sabes Quien Sos? [And You, Do You Know Who You are?]

Monica Horovitz

If understanding is impossible, knowing is imperative, because what happened could happen again. Conscience can be seduced and obscured again - even our consciences. For this reason, it is everyone's duty to reflect on what happened.

(Primo Levi, 1976[1987, p. 396])

This paper takes as its starting point the Argentinean film Cautiva, directed by G. Biraben, which describes the traumatic announcement by a judge to a teenage girl that she is the child, not of the couple who were bringing her up, but of parents who ‘disappeared’ during the military dictatorship. The author explores the notion of identity in general, and focuses more particularly on that of the children of the ‘disappeared’.

Replacing ‘the disappeared’ in the context of Argentina and emphasizing the connivance of society as a whole at that time, the author goes on to explore appropriation and its impact on the child concerned - in this case, Cristina, the heroine of the film. Starting with the break-up of her identity, the author describes the stages of its reconstruction and the conditions required for this to be carried out; in particular, it was important for Cristina to be in contact with peers and not to avoid the pain that this long process involved or the uncertainty that continued to hang over her future.

Disappeared, hidden, out of sight - those were the terms used to designate what could not be mentally represented of the events in Argentina under the military dictatorship. They refer to a void, the void of identity: ‘sucked’ (the word used by the military to designate the ‘disappeared’), NN [no nato], ‘hooded’, ‘silenced’; all identity is lost. The aim was to empty the body, the name, the meaning of words and make everything transparent. The ‘disappeared’ person is a body with no identity - and perhaps even an identity with no body; a phenomenon that has no rationality whatsoever to it. The disappeared are deleted from the world of the living. They belong to the category of ‘mathematical unknowns’, with nothing human about them.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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