Friday, May 23, 2003

Victims, Perpetrators and Healers at the TRC

by Trevor Lubbe (Cape Town)

The focal point of this paper will be to describe a piece of work I undertook for the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa during April 1996. This involved facilitating a group of TRC staff during the very first week of the public hearings. I would like to use this group experience to highlight some of the difficulties that arise in a specialised truth-seeking process of this kind, and in order to understand some of these difficulties I have drawn upon some ideas from psychoanalytic practice – which is also a truth-seeking enterprise of sorts, and which also brings in the past as part of its healing objective. Of course while analytic concepts can be used to illuminate other areas of inquiry it also the case that terms like truth-seeking, forgiveness, reconciliation are not commonplace in psychoanalytic discourse, though the term reparation has some currency when discussing the aims of psychoanalysis.

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