An issue for traumatic times
The present issue of the Close Encounters in War Journal deals with trauma and in particular with one of its technical declinations called post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, a label that was introduced to the scientific community by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980. When we decided to focus on this topic, in early 2019, we were miles away from imagining that our lives would soon change so quickly and profoundly. 2020 is being an extremely challenging year for everybody. The Covid pandemic is striking hard worldwide and our life-style, economies, health, and mood are at stake. The disruption caused by the sanitary crisis on all levels, in all countries of the world, has been triggering traumatic response not only in those who have been directly affected by the virus as patients or relatives and friends of patients, but also healthcare staff and a vast number of workers and citizens who have lost family members, friends, colleagues, and too often their jobs to the restrictions imposed by politicians to deal with the staggering figures of the contagion. Traumatic experience and stress have become a reality for many, which makes this issue of the CEIWJ in a certain sense topical.
Speaking from our perspective of editors and scholars, we cannot help but notice the growing difficulty in which academic research is struggling. Scholars all around the world used to rely on the availability of research facilities at home and abroad, which could be easily reached by traveling short distances by bus, train, or airplane. However, since March 2020, everyone had to accept the unexpected and dismaying new reality of a world where libraries, universities, research centres, and archives are shut until further notice, or running on very restricted standards of service. The sudden difficulty to access sources has impacted academic research dramatically. Nonetheless, we have managed to collect original contributions of excellent quality, for which we do thank our contributors and the external peer-reviewers, who have provided us with their more than ever precious support.
This issue will furthermore appear somewhat different to our readers, if compared with our previous ones of 2018 and 2019, because for the first time it combines heterogeneous kinds of contributions. On the one hand, in line with our tradition, we propose scientific articles devoted to the investigation of PTSD in different fields, including literary studies and philosophy of language; on the other hand, we had the rare opportunity to publish original contributions from practitioners and actual veterans who have worked and struggled with PTSD for decades. This multifaceted composition of the issue aims to provide our readers with the most complete approach to such a topic as PTSD, which is an object of academic scholarship as well as (and above all) of field-work carried out by practitioners, who work to tackle the enduring and crippling effects of war trauma.
And finally, due to the heterogeneous nature of PTSD and of the different approaches adopted to understand and heal it, we also decided to enrich this issue with something special and perhaps unexpected: an Appendix, in which we have collected contributions ranging from poetry to prose, which may – this is our wish – remind that dealing with PTSD first of all means to deal with the unfathomable universe of the human, emotional mind. Understanding PTSD means to look into the multifaceted legacy of war as a hidden and subterranean river of disturbing memories, feelings, thoughts, and suffering that veterans have to cope with, often for years or decades. Now, before moving on to introduce the contributions, a few words about PTSD are due.
The entire Issue n. 3 and the single contributions can be downloaded below: