Trauma, protest, and therapeutic culture in Algeria since the 1980s

AHP readers will be interested in a new piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences: “Trauma, protest, and therapeutic culture in Algeria since the 1980s,” Mélanie Henry. Abstract:

This article focuses on the shift in sensitivities that took place between the 1980s and 2019 toward psychological suffering in Algeria. Promoters of psychotherapy showed an increase in receptivity—via the media, public authorities, and the general population—to their practices and discourses during this period. Based on professional literature, interviews with psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychoanalysts, and newspaper articles and essays, this article considers the following aspects: the use of psychotherapy, the authority of psychoanalytic/psychopathological analyses, and the ethics of relation in politics. Taking a social and cultural history of politics approach, it traces the discontinuous politicization of psychotherapy over the course of events (namely the uprising of 1988, the civil war of the 1990s, and the 2019 popular movement) and examines the interactions between the state, popular mobilizations, and the psychotherapists. The civil war of the 1990s coincided with the normalization of “trauma” on a global scale, and procedures for the prevention of posttraumatic stress disorder were put in place in Algeria from 1997 onwards. In this process of legitimizing psychological suffering and its treatment, the promoters of psychotherapy who belonged to the less visible margins gained authority. The year-long protest movement (2019) against the regime performed the ethics of relation, focusing on human relations, reflexivity, and living together. Promoters of psychotherapy identified consistently with the political subjectivities produced within the 2019 popular movement characterized by massive pacifist marches against the regime.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.