A sociology of trauma : violence and self identity

Snyder, Justin Allen, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia
Olick, Jeffrey Keith, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia
Davis, Joe, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia
Kumar, Kristen, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia

This project relates the experience of violence to self-identity. It involves a systematic content analysis of memoirs published on rape, terrorism, genocide, and war. The content analysis provided a complex typology of traumatic stressors that is general to the instances of violence considered. The typology is a style of formal sociology comparable to what has been termed social pattern analysis (Zerubavel 2007). The identified stressors are as follows: the symbolic and cognitive expansion of violence, the loss of self-propriety during violent physical exchanges, the frustration of mundane choices and routines, and the blurring of moral and cognitive boundaries.

A theoretical description was fit to the empirical findings. The typology illustrates that more happens in the process of violence than just direct physical harm. I employ the concepts of reflexivity and authenticity to describe the traumatic meaning of these events. Reflexivity and authenticity are two interrelated concepts used to capture aspects of contemporary Western self-identity. During violence, reflexivity and authenticity appear impossible; the stressors undermine an individual's basic confidence in his or her self-concept. As a consequence, individuals experience a comprehensive mortification of the self Symptoms of posttraumatic disorder (PTSD) result from this experience of severe humiliation.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF file via OCR.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
post-traumatic disorder, violence, self-identity

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

Thesis originally deposited on 2016-02-18 in version 1.28 of Libra. This thesis was migrated to Libra2 on 2017-03-23 16:33:58.

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