I will present my paper on 'Victims of disaster: can ethical debriefings be of help to understand their suffering?'
The paper is partially based on an essay of French philosopher Paul Ricouer: 'La souffrance n'est pas la douleur'
This is my abstract:
Victims of disaster suffer, not only at the very moment of the disaster, but also years after the disaster has taken place, they are still in an emotional journey. While many moral perspectives focus on the moment of the disaster itself, a lot of work is to be done years after the disaster. How do people go through their suffering and how can we take care of them?
Research on human suffering after a major catastrophe, using an ethics of care perspective, is scarce. (Roxberg et al, 2001, Raholm, 2008) People suffering from disasters are often called to be in distress and their emotional difficulties ‘medicalised’. (Crocq, 2002) This brings them often into a situation of long term use of medication, and one can wonder if medication is of help to them in the long run.
In our paper, we will explore another moral perspective, focusing on the importance of the victims’ narrative and their lived experiences. We will use Paul Ricoeur’s phenomenological reflections from ‘Suffering is not the same as pain’ (Ricoeur, 1994) for conceptualizing human suffering and how to apply it to victims of disaster. Ricoeur suggests that suffering is not a quantity that can be measured, but a characteristic that should be studied qualitatively in interpersonal and narrative contexts. Above all, the perspective of care and listening could offer an opportunity to reconcile people from their loss and suffering (Roxberg et al, 2001).