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Truth Or Fiction: Psychoanalytic Discourse - Whose Truth Is It Anyway?

The Letter, Issue 27, Spring 2003, Pages 122 - 134


TRUTH OR FICTION: PSYCHOANALYTIC DISCOURSE WHOSE TRUTH IS IT ANYWAY?*

Maryrose Kiernan


In contemporary Irish society, perhaps more that ever before, the myths of the 'truths' we hold about our society and of our past history are being exposed and challenged.

Following the public apology by An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern T.D., in May 1999 to those adults who had experienced abuse as children, while in care in Irish institutions, the National Counselling Service was established.[1]

One would imagine that this action would have led to a greater openness and understanding in our society as to the cause and nature of childhood abuse and trauma, both for the victims and the perpetrators. However, one of the most striking findings of the SAVI Report is the extent to which sexual violence is still a completely private and hidden matter for almost half of those affected. With increasing media and professional attention and increasing numbers reporting, it has been easy to consider that there had been a thorough airing of the subject in the public domain with 'no surprises' remaining. This is not the case.[2]

Heightened media attention given to the issue of sexual abuse has led to what has been called a 'moral panic' about the violent nature of the world we live in. Interfamilial stories of child sexual abuse are underemphasised while those of a more sensationalist nature, involving paedophile rings, clerical abuse etc., are highlighted.[3]

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