class="csc-frame csc-frame-default"Kann und sollte man Wissen zählen?

Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens

Universität Zürich

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens

Universität Zürich

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

ULRICH KOCH (2008-2012)

Imaging the Unimaginable. Representation in Trauma Research

The study of traumatic experience and memory has recently become a thriving area of research within clinical psychology and psychiatry. Accompanying this upsurge of scientific interest in trauma is not only a growing public awareness concerning the traumatic character of events held indicative of the precariousness of our times, such as terrorist attacks or climatic disasters, but also an ongoing debate over the wider philosophical implications of the concept of psychic trauma. In this regard, philosophical commentators and researchers have pointed out the difficulty or sheer impossibility of adequately putting into words what is in essence an incomprehensible event. As such, several authors argue, traumatic experience indicates a "hole" or "gap" in an individual's supportive network of meaning, or, ultimately, may be understood as an experience defying representation. Concurrently, while questioning its adequate narrative representation, researchers increasingly emphasize visual aspects of traumatic memory such as intrusive images or flashback episodes, letting the victim involuntarily relive the traumatic event. These internal images are often considered to be accurate re-experiences of the event, rather than its subjective reconstruction. Also within other areas of trauma research there has been a shift away from narrative accounts of the traumatic toward iconic forms of its representation. For instance, the neurobiological research of trauma has embraced the use of neuroimaging techniques as a means of rendering visible the physiological traces left by trauma.

This project addresses the recent emphasis of the image and iconic forms of representation within trauma research from a philosophical and historical point of view. We strive to investigate whether the recent concern with the image may be regarded as an effort to resolve the epistemological difficulties emerging from the "crisis of representation" posed by trauma.