Simulated War: Remediating Trauma Narratives in Military Psychotherapy
How have the politics of therapy been reconfigured during the so-called Global War on Terror? What role have the new virtual reality therapies that so resemble other forms of military simulation played in this reconfiguration? In this article, I draw upon feminist science and technology’s (STS) theorization of human-machine interaction into order to interrogate how contemporary therapies for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) reconfigure agency in the practice of healing. Analyzing trauma therapy as a site of reconfiguration, I show how new exposure-based therapies for PTSD—both with and without virtual reality—configure aspects of human subjectivity, such as memory, affect, and behavior, as objects for technological intervention. Through comparative analysis of different modalities of PTSD treatment, I show that the politics of therapy is especially enacted through the therapeutic remediation of trauma narratives: the mediational practices through which a traumatic memory is made available for therapeutic reworking. Therapeutic remediation practices configure therapists, patients, and nonhuman actants as subjects and objects with different forms of agency.
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