In times of stress, trauma and crisis—whether on a personal or global scale—it can be all too easy for us to externalize a larger-than-life figure who can assuage our suffering, a Hero who comes to the fore even as we recede into the background. In taking on our collective burden, however, such an omnipotent Hero can actually undermine us, representing as it does the very same characteristics we fail to note in one another. By granting the Hero to power to set things right, we seem to deny it to ourselves, leaving us temporarily lightened but ultimately helpless.
In response, Sue Grand deconstructs the myth of the Heroic and argues for the "ordinary hero," a more realistic figure with the same limitations, concerns and fears as the rest of us, but who nonetheless stands up for the greater good in the face of danger, despair and villainy. From the foundation of relational psychoanalysis, Grand incorporates cultural and ethical considerations in her examination of what this ordinary hero might look like, a trip that takes us from the consulting room to right outside our front doors, from the heart of a "civilized" nation to the myriad war-torn regions dappling the globe, both past and present. Along the way we meet individuals whose encounters with adversity range from the mundane to the catastrophic, and learn how they struggle against the dubious concept of the Hero looming large in their lives. Recounting this journey in finely-tuned yet imminently accessible and enjoyable prose, Grand demonstrates that the best place to ultimately find the ordinary hero is within each other: The hero is us.
Table of Contents
Introduction. Part I: Annihilation and the Psychesoma: Failed Courage, False Courage, Real Resistance. Heroic Fantasms: Infections of Terror in the Analytic Hour. Manic Courage: Violence, Displacement, and the Borrowed Phallus. Unsexed and Ungendered: Asserting Truth and Reconceiving Speech. Part II: Violent Contrast, Activist Narratives. Terrorism and Group Violence: The Destruction and Restoration of the Name. Genocide: Sacrifice and the Absurd. Ethical Force, Obscurity, and the Veil. Terrorism, War, Genocide: The Search for Embodied Writing. Conclusion.
Sue Grand, Ph.D., is faculty and supervisor at the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, where she holds a specialization in trauma as well as family and couples. In addition, she is faculty at the Mitchell Center for Relational Psychoanalysis, the Manhattan Institute for Psychoanalysis, the National Institute for the Psychotherapies, and the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California. She is an associate editor of Psychoanalytic Dialogues and author of The Reproduction of Evil (Analytic Press, 2000), and has a private practive in New York City and Teaneck, NJ.