Ghosts Within: A Genealogy of War Trauma in Turkey

TitleGhosts Within: A Genealogy of War Trauma in Turkey
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsAciksoz, Salih Can
JournalJournal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association
Date Published11/2015

Tracing the historical trajectories of war traumatology in Turkey, this paper develops a genealogy of the recent institutionalization of the diagnostic category of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Turkish military psychiatry and the state's welfare system. A complex blend of economic, political, and cultural dynamics long prevented trauma from becoming an officially recognized category of military medical diagnosis in Turkey. The author argues that the Turkish state's denial of war trauma in general and PTSD in particular should be read not as a historical lag or a conceptual lack, but as an overdetermined historical specificity that needs to be understood in relation to the particularities of specific military conflicts, welfare and medical institutional histories, and moral and political economies. The author shows how PTSD has not simply replaced existing local categories of mental illness, but entered into complex relations of mutual symbiosis and competition with them. Shifting the terms of scholarly debates on the globalization of PTSD from the question of cultural difference to the political, moral, economic, and therapeutic work of locally embedded psychiatric categories, this paper contributes to the literatures on political violence, trauma, medicalization, and militarism in Turkey and beyond.

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