Psychoanalyst Eraslan: "The state responded to people who were crying out for help with anger and a stick in its hand."
ROZERIN YUKSEL- Psychoanalyst Sahap Eraslan believes that the events following the earthquake in Turkey are not merely the ramifications of a natural disaster and that the consequences that the country has faced are an “evil that was foreseen.” He emphasizes the importance of the reconstruction of goodness and solidarity in combatting trauma.
According to the latest data, 40,642 people lost their lives as a result of the earthquake that struck ten provinces in southeastern Turkey on Thursday, February 6. In Hatay, which suffered severe damage as a result of the earthquake, Ahmet Guresci and Sabri Guresci were taken into custody by security forces. Ahmet Guresci died in custody as a result of the gendarmerie’s torture. Sabri Guresci, who was also subjected to torture, remains detained.
The inadequacy of government aid laid bare many instances of violence. In areas where the government did not send aid, the public was subjected to the violence of security forces as they attempted to meet their basic needs by taking products from markets. The refugees living in Turkey were forced to leave the region as they became increasingly targeted. Despite the calls by human rights organizations against torture, the public finds the perpetrators to be justified and believes their response is fair.
Not only in the earthquake-hit zone but also outside of it, citizens have experienced feelings of helplessness, isolation, and insecurity. Psychoanalyst Sahap Eraslan analyses the situation in the region and its psychological consequences for Gercek News.
“The earthquake being called a ‘natural disaster’ was an evil done by people who predicted it beforehand”
Eraslan, who notes that the consequences of the earthquake do not fit under the category of natural disasters, said, “This last incident is a natural disaster, true; but it was also a situation that was known and foreseen, and whose consequences could have been mitigated. As such, this earthquake does not fit under the umbrella of ‘natural disasters.’ It is an evil that was willingly done by people to others under the title “natural disaster.” This is why it has caused complex trauma beyond the impact of natural trauma. It is a trauma akin to a premeditated evil (such as torture or genocide, a collective trauma) that one person does to another.”
THE STATE FELT THREATENED BY NON-GOVERNMENTAL SOLIDARITY
“The state responded to those trying to amplify the pleas of their loved ones with its wrath.”
In other traumas, we theoretically have a place or a home to which we can escape. In the case of an earthquake, our home is destroyed. We are left motherless, homeless, rootless, and helpless. Each child who loses their symbolic mother (home is the mother’s bosom) seeks refuge and solace in their father. After this earthquake, however, the “paternal” state was also nowhere to be found. When he did come our way, he was armed with his wrath and a stick for beating the people trying to amplify the pleas of their loved ones under the rubble.
Solidarity coming from non-governmental sources caused anxiety in the state. In this earthquake, we know who the “bad guy” is. We are not looking for a responsible party in the heavens. Those to blame are among us… Before fingers were pointed at the state, it began to intervene in the situation. By dividing, crushing, weakening, and regulating solidarity and aid, it aimed to make these easily manageable for itself. In the smallest situation that can be a source of morale and hope, the state intervenes.
In what way does the shift from uncontrollable anger to violence during times of disaster affect the future of a society? Does it increase society’s inclination to violence?
There is an accumulated violence in society. For years now, the state and its supporters have positioned minority groups as enemies and declared war on them. When anxiety for the future and the economic crisis are added to the mix, a potential for violence is born. Thus, the force of earthquake first birthed solidarity, but then brought anger to a boiling point.
Trauma makes victims out of people, and one trauma response is the attempt to never be victimized again. The mentality of not being a victim makes one more prone to being a perpetrator. And when a person has lost everything and when the individuals who tie that person to life lie under the wreckage, then ethical and moral codes turn to ruin. We are living in a time when there is no consequence to crime. Moral and ethical values had already been damaged prior to the earthquake, and they were destroyed even more so by the disaster. Do not take this as a praise of crime, but I do not know if those who conduct all sorts of unethical behavior as they sit in their comfort zones preaching and hurling threats have the right to expect those who have lost everything to act as paragons of morality…
THE ARTIFICAL “BAD GUYS”: SYRIAN REFUGEES, LGBTQI+ GROUPS, EXTERNAL POWERS, AND “ALL THE OTHERS”
The events of the past few days have made vulnerable segments of society, namely, refugees and the LGBTQI+ community, into targets. In fact, some people even believe that the earthquake happened because of LGBTQI+ people. What is the cause of this hatred, what is your evaluation of this situation from a psychological perspective?
If someone knows what evil is, and knowingly plans to act in such a manner, the dimensions here change. To be able to disguise evil, people continuously create new evils within themselves. And this becomes the new normal for bad people. Society must now understand that they are dealing with this sort of “bad person.”
To prevent people from this realization, the state manufactures other “bad people” and puts them forward as targets to channel society’s anger. This generally means the targeting of the most vulnerable segments of society who do not have lobbies or attorneys.
Syrians, the LGBTQI+ community, external powers, traitors to the nation, terrorists… A few performative trials that are little more than window dressing, a couple of contractors and architects… They are going to want to maintain this system… The dynamics created by the state are not the only dynamics in this society… There are dissidents, there are those who are trying to be human and to guard their humanity… These are the people who will attempt to organize good against bad…
How can the negative effects of a natural disaster be alleviated? What should earthquake survivors do to prevent the degree of trauma from reaching a critical point?
This is not a natural disaster; it is an unnatural disaster. We must put up a resistance, we must ensure that we are not manipulated using such phrases. Fate is something whose end results cannot be changed. However, this was not an act of fate since it was a natural event whose consequences were preventable. These people, this state, and these institutions made it into a catastrophe… This is an evil… They destroyed everything, while we will try to organize constructiveness. If they persist in doing evil, we will insist on goodness. We will transform vengeance into a creative and positive force. For centuries, the Alevi community responded to evil not with evil, but with their folk songs… Kurds have been saying “peace” to those who say “war” for years… The Saturday Mothers have borne their cross patiently… We will learn from them… Against the forces of catastrophe, we will use our constructive and positive emotion of revenge against evil; that is, the reconstruction of goodness will heal us all…
Even people who were not in the earthquake region have been traumatized. All of society is in mourning. Should it be mourned, and if so how long should it last?
Those who survived the earthquake have experienced primal trauma while those who were not there but emotionally present experienced secondary trauma. National mourning is one of the rituals created by the nation state… the concept of mourning is a multifaceted topic… There are so many variants… In “The Stranger,” Albert Camus describes a form of mourning that is inconceivable to many… It is a separate and lengthy topic… I can only mourn by writing and by staying silent… This is why I shall end by not speaking, by staying silent. Sincerely yours.