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Memory and therapeutic models of treatment/ the case for re/scriptive memory



Memory and reflective practice - why are important for a successful therapeutic encounter



One of my favourite best scholars of all times is Judith Butler - for all of they'r writings, interpretative readings, texts, in-person conferences etc., over a period of more than twenty years.

One of the best aspects of Butler's writings (in my opinion) is that they and their' readings are not immediately conquering a conceptual understanding. Allow me an example:


Butler's quote in a chapter entitled "Against Ethical Violence" in they'r book "Giving an Account of Oneself " (2005) is significant to title of my March 2022 blog;

Butler contends: 


" Consider that one way we become responsible and self-knowing is facilitated by a kind of reflection that takes place when judgment is suspended. Condemnation, denunciation, and excoriation work as quick ways to posit an ontological difference between judge and judged, even to purge oneself of another. Condemnation becomes the way in which we establish the other as unrecognizable or jetti-son some aspect of ourselves that we lodge in the other, whom we then condemn. In this sense, condemnation can work against self-knowledge, inasmuch as it moralizes a self by disavowing commonality with the judged. Although self-knowledge is surely limited, that is not a reason (enough.sic.. my own addition to text) to turn against it as a project. Condemnation tends to do precisely this, to purge and externalize one's own opacity. In this sense, judgment can be a way to fail to own one's limitations and thus provide no felicitous basis for a reciprocal recognition of human beings as opaque to themselves, partially blind, constitutively limited. To know oneself as limited is still to know something about oneself, even if one's knowing is afflicted by the limitation that one knows.

Similarly, condemnation is very often an act that not only "gives up on" the one condemned but seeks to inflict a violence upon the condemned in the name of "ethics".  Butler, 2005,p.46.


A brief illustration of my own understanding/meaning of ethical violence of my account with an object (rather) than a subject: 


The object in question is actually a KNIFE. 


In each and every culture - knives  - have a purpose, a meaning - a collective understanding. 


I shall acknowledge all such meanings and tell you my relationship with a knife:


1. As a child I used a knife to sharpen my pencils for obvious purposes - writing - I never had a pencil sharpener during my formative years.


2. I also used knives as a tool in the kitchen - for its purposes as a cutlery utensil and for cooking, chopping etc. 


3. I very often use a knife as a tool to fix things, remove or cut something, when I can't find something as a proper tool i.e. replacing a fuse or opening a tin can.


4. Camping - any form of knife* is a must for survival - one can decide and identify for themselves ways of usage.


5.  Carving, sculpting etc. - it is probably not called knife* - but all along it is its purpose - remodeling, changing, altering to a form that can be best sharp in its entirety.


6. but KNIFE has a major meaning, linked to both self-defenses and aggression/violence - it is a symbol for all that can be conceptualised as survival - its existence is designed for survival in all its forms. It is classified as a white weapon  or cold weapon - defined as "a weapon that does not involve fire or explosions, weapons that do not use any sort of explosive force in their function" Wikipedia cold weapon.

I often think at that association and think back at Butler's quote - I think my weapon of choice is sharpening my pencils, like I did as a child. However, I recognise that my pencil is now a knife itself, and it can be used in all potential 1 to 6 of above. My pencil is a 

KNIFE itself in both purpose and usage. Probably not quite so obvious at first look, but from capability vantage point absolutely so. As it would be if I refer to a chopstick. 

Coming back to writings of condemned - KNIFE- it is condemned and restricted in its limits for its own declaration of purpose knowledge - and yet, knives are objects and "subjects" indisputably representing a survival. 

I will go back and sharpen my pencils, or wait,... now I can just type: my fingers are my knife, absorbed into my skin, my being -  my very memory, hence used against ethical violence, talking about my taking a stand against violence - ethical violence in all its forms. Every word of mine, can be equally a knife's stab and/or a soothing thought. That is a choice - can it be both? Interpretatively?


It depends. Depends on what one identifies as main and only usage of a KNIFE. Does one identify oneself as a feeder, carver, acting in self-defense, fixing things, enabling an understanding or randomly acting purposely to attack someone through sharpening of pencils and purport ethical violence in the name of condemnation? 


Clear distinctions above - use your knives carefully and when you, yourself become a knife make choices against violence - put your cold weapon down and only resort to such defence when it is ultimate. As a child, I did not have a pencil sharpener - but I did make sure that my own child had one such object from each and every place of art that we have visited, with name and purpose clearly defined. 


If you are still wondering on psychotherapeutic meanings on all above, please create a list of your own usage of a knife and meanings attached. Read that list again and reflect on previously accepted understandings. I hope you would not have to challenge yourself and that all is clear on your side. But, is it? Clear?




Butler, J., (2005)., Giving an account of oneself.

New York: Fordham University Press.










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