New Book: Friedman-Peleg, A Nation on the Couch. The Politics of Trauma in Israel (in Hebrew)

פרידמן-פלג, קרן. העם על הספה. הפוליטיקה של הטראומה בישראל, ספריית אשכולות. ירושלים: מאגנס, 2014.







This book is an invitation to observe the practice of one of the most dominant communities in Israel, and yet one of its most closed ones: the therapeutic community. Through a four-year anthropological field work (2004-2008) among two of the most prominent associations in Israel – Natal (“Israel’s Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War”) and the “Israel Trauma Coalition” – the chapters of this book trace the inevitable intersection between professional questions of clinical diagnosis, treatment and prevention of PTSD in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict with political question of group identity and power relations: what differences exist between therapists on the meaning of traumatic experiences and its moral boundaries? What consensus is reached regarding practices of aid and funds allocation, and what is the connection between it and the questions of group identity; including political, ethnic, and social class aspects?

This ethnographic journey will shed light on the development of politics around the therapeutic practice of trauma in two sequential instances: (1) the institutional instance will address the establishment of a new therapeutic home, through the extraordinary juncture of therapists, donors and advertisers; (2) the professional instance will present the branching of four circles of therapeutic occupation of trauma: the “clinical core” among soldiers; the practice of the tense relationship between “primary” trauma of a man and the “secondary” trauma of a woman, his spouse; the growing distance from the “clinical mothership,” for the sake of intervention among “risk groups” from Be’er-Sheva in the South to Daliyat al-Karmel in the north; and the emphasis on the prevention of trauma, through activities such as “strength and immunity” in Sderot. These examinations will demonstrate how the therapeutic practice is far from representing a single objective reality with a clear professional truth. Instead, it will reveal the existence of a polyphonic and multi-participant network of reciprocities surrounding the therapeutic practice of trauma, between various social locations and diverse worldviews.