Enforced Disappearances and Torture Today: A View from Analytical Psychology

Maria Giovanna Bianchi (Journal of Analytical Psychology)
Publication Year
Thematic Area
Families / The Search Process
Enforced Disappearance / Family Needs / Mental Health / Psychosocial Support
Subscription required

Enforced disappearance represents the quintessence of human rights violations with a strong psychological component. Bodies vanishing have a deterrent effect by terrorizing and paralyzing the entire society. However, the absence of those bodies is overly present in the inner experience of the families of the disappeared, who are victims in their turn. A state of severe psychological deterioration affects the relatives of the disappeared: depression, anxiety, powerlessness, guilt, post-traumatic stress disorder, inability to mourn, even suicide are the consequences of the unbearable uncertainty about the fate of the loved one. But the disappeared persons, notwithstanding the absence of their bodies, continue to be more present than ever in the inner experience of those who have loved them. For the families of the disappeared, to regain psychological equilibrium is a fine balance between the need to remember and the necessity to forget. The author affirms that, at a social and political level, to cultivate a collective memory of enforced disappearance is an ethical duty which validates the actual occurrence of the atrocities, helps prevent repetition and alleviates the transgenerational transmission of trauma.