[Milton-L] Memorization and Naomi Wolf

James Rovira jrovira at drew.edu
Wed Feb 25 11:53:52 EST 2004

Thanks much for the response, Mr. Cox.  Isn't this relative to the 
specific relationship, though?  Wouldn't it be dependent upon the level 
of trust and attitude toward the superior, in other words, as well as 
dependent upon the individual's own relationship to authority?  I, like 
many others -- probably like most people -- have suffered a perceived 
betrayal from a trusted authority (and on more than one occasion).  At 
the time it was traumatic.  I went through a period of adjustment, which 
required growing up a bit on my part, and wound up understanding that 
human beings are human beings and can only be trusted as far as their 
characters and limitations warrant, which in all cases is limited.

At any rate, while I won't exclude this reaction as a possibility in 
some cases, it's still reasonable to question this particular instance.  
My perception of the article was that it didn't describe her own 
personal trauma with nearly the credibility or detail that I see in your 
response below.  When I read her article, I questioned.  When I read 
your response below: no.  There's a ring of truth lacking in the former 
that I see present in the latter.  I don't see Woolf exhibiting signs of 
damage, at least now -- I could be mistaken.  I'm curious if there were 
such signs in her past work.  And given the specific circumstance, isn't 
"imagination" a bold euphemism for "lying" in this case? 


Carrol Cox wrote:

>James Rovira wrote:
>>I'd also like to add that a person who is "destroyed" (was Ms.
>>Woolf really "destroyed"?) by someone putting a hand on her thigh is a
>>pretty fragile human being.   
>I'm no great admirer of Naomi Wolf, but this point needs to be sharply
>separated from any judgment of her personally or of her personal
>experience at Yale.
>An essential element in almost all cases of Post-Traumatic Stress
>Disorder is a sense of betrayal by someone in a position of trust and
>responsibility -- by one's leader(s). A classic on this is Jonathan
>Shay, _Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character_.
>(Shay is both a Ph.D. in classical studies and an M.D.) One of his case
>histories is particularly illuminating here. This man had just arrived
>in Viet Nam when his unit was placed in ambush above a beach where a
>hostile landing was expected that night. Two boats did come ashore --
>and they opened up with all the firepower they had. When morning came,
>they discovered they had destroyed two fishing parties (and their
>families) who had put ashore. A horrible accident. But that is _not_ how
>the Colonel handled it. The Colonel said, "We've got body count" and
>authorized the combat infantry badge for all those who had taken part in
>the massacre. This man went on to earn the Infantry Combat Badge many
>times over, but he never recovered from the sense of betrayal at the
>false honor represented by his superior's treatment of the incident, and
>that betrayal lay at the heart of the difficulties which led him to
>Shay's clinic for the treatment of ptsd.
>One need not give credence to Wolf's _particular_ account of her own
>experience to know that such an act by a trusted superior is indeed
>capable of a destructive result even for the _least_ "fragile" of human
>My own clinical depression does not stem from ptsd, but over the years I
>have known many others whose troubles were so caused (or at least
>initiated) by just such events as Wolf describes -- and were I to
>discover that the whole of her article was a lie, it would have the
>effect not of discrediting her general points but rather of generating
>considerable respect for her imaginative power.

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