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van Zyl, S. (1999). An Interview with Gillian Straker on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. Psychoanal. Dial., 9(2):245-248.

(1999). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 9(2):245-248

An Interview with Gillian Straker on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa

Sue van Zyl

Instead of revenge there will be reconciliation.

Instead of forgetfulness there will be knowledge and acknowledgement.

Instead of rejection there will be acceptance by a compassionate state.

Dullah Omar, Minister of Justice, 1996

Introduction by Neil Altman, Adrienne Harris, Glenys Lobban, and Melanie Suchet

CAN PSYCHOANALYSIS SHED LIGHT ON THE DEPTH, THE SCALE, OR THE tenacity of violence in human social life? Will this depthpsychological theory be of use in understanding larger political processes, warfare, oppression, and the range of cruelty and heroic repair that characterizes human response? Actually, we must now ask this question in two directions. How has our evolving psychoanalytic theory been shaped or influenced by the dramatic and terrible events of the past hundred years? It is certainly thought that Freud's views of human capacity were altered by the experiences of World War I. The relationship between war and trauma research is complex and bidirectional. As we try to comprehend the incomprehensible—the Holocaust, Bosnia, Rwanda, the Soviet Union of the Stalinists, China's Cultural Revolution, ongoing terrorism and revenge in the Middle East, intractable vengeance and hatred lived out in tandem with utopian and revolutionary visions and great movements for social justice—we can ask how psychoanalysis can participate in an evolving understanding of political and social forces and events.


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