Society under Siege: A Psychology of Northern Ireland

Society under Siege: A Psychology of Northern Ireland

Society under Siege: A Psychology of Northern Ireland

Society under Siege: A Psychology of Northern Ireland

Excerpt

During the period in which this book was written many of the persons whose lives and efforts inspired its writing were murdered and mutilated. Too often those who have been marked for destruction in Northern Ireland are men and women who are advocating a nonsectarian solution to the troubles. They are working-class, grass-roots leaders who have stepped from the ranks of their peers to express their position in order to initiate steps toward new understanding. There were two such men, Billy McMillen and Sammy Smith, about whom I had already written before they were killed and whose deaths represent further regression from a just resolution of the conflict. Besides these murdered leaders, there are hundreds of children, Protestant and Catholic, into whose lives I wandered in the pursuit of my research. Many of them became my friends during the six years of my frequent visits to Ireland. I've watched them grow up -- some of them. Others I've known haven't lived to grow up or have become crippled bodies and damaged minds. During this time, also, I've shared the agonies of the thousands of people in Northern Ireland whose suffering in interrogation and internment has aged them before their time. I endured a small sample of that experience myself and afterward realized that this "soft guillotine," which separates the spirit from the person and alienates the individual from himself or herself, is indeed psychological genocide. Often I've asked myself why go back? I could argue that it is the commitment to my research; the necessity for maintaining a longitudinal "sample"; but I know that is not sufficient reason to explain my persistence. Sometimes I think the answer is that because every time I have completed one or another part of my research and articulated my findings there has been such a massive effort on the part of the governments involved to suppress them, even to the extent of shredding ten thousand copies of a two-hundred- page book (A Society On The Run -- my report on two years of research findings). But I think that my reason for going back and continuing this . . .

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