Neuropsychologie und historie - Versuch einer empirischen annäherung: Posttraumatische belastungsstörung (PTSD) und soziopathie in Österreich nach 1945

Translated title of the contribution: Neuropsychology and history - Attempt for an empirical approach. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sociopathy in Austria after 1945

Niels Birbaumer, Dieter Langewiesche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The paper discusses the usefulness or nonsense of neuroscience for history as an academic discipline. History depends on a functioning cultural memory based on written or otherwise coded information of the past. The neuroscientific evidence of the extreme instability and subjective coloring of memory storage and retrieval does not add to existing knowledge in history: the data base of history has to be reflected with a critical and cautious attitude. Memory recall and history remain a complex process of reconstruction of very selective engrams or historic information. Instead, the article proposes several areas of history where neuroscientifk experimentation could shed a new light on historically transmitted "facts" and experience, particularly in oral history. Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder after traumas of war and violence and criminal psychopathy are discussed as examples of neuroscientific concepts that may assist in the interpretation and reconstruction of historic events: the memory distortions in both disorders produce different histories. A case study from a concentration camp victim is given. Austria's double moral after World War II reflecting its own antisemitic Nazi-past is described as a consequence of collective psychopathy, and some virtual neuroscientific experiments based on scientific historic analysis are designed.

Translated title of the contributionNeuropsychology and history - Attempt for an empirical approach. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sociopathy in Austria after 1945
Original languageGerman
Pages (from-to)153-175
Number of pages23
JournalGeschichte und Gesellschaft
Volume32
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Linguistics and Language

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