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Compulsive Repetition of Rupture: Strategies of Representing Trauma

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This article focuses on the strategies that literature and cultural criticism adopt to represent trauma in comparison to a current medical definition. The contemporary medical definition, trauma as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is the most narrow and specific definition to discuss trauma. The discourse of medicine does not necessarily match those of literature and cultural criticism, nor need they conform to each other. PTSD includes a collection of symptoms, any one of which might not have anything to do with traumatic experience, but which together point with increasing intensity to a psychological syndrome caused by traumatic shock. Although this is historically a recently defined syndrome (1980), its features had long before attracted attention and been recorded under other terms and diagnoses. Although Chinese literature is only occasionally given to psychological realism, we do find occasional descriptions that strongly suggest aspects of the syndrome. Also, the aims and the needs of medicine and literature or cultural criticism are not necessarily the same, but it is important to explore in greater detail the aims and the needs of literature and cultural criticism.


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