Death in Life
Survivors of Hiroshima
Publication Year: 1991
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Title Page, Copyright
It is hard for me to believe that almost three decades have passed since my wife and I arrived in Hiroshima for the first time. But I have no doubt that what I learned there has affected everything I have done or felt since. Hiroshima, along with its pain, offers a special kind of illumination. For many years I felt lonely in relation to my Hiroshima experience. It was part of our family...
Introduction: Research and Researcher
Research is a form of re-creation. I have tried to record the most important psychological consequences of exposure to the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. In order to relate the atomic survivor to general human experience, I extended the inquiry to include a wider concept of "the survivor" as an entity highly relevant to our times. These concerns in turn led to a study of death...
One hears the word and wants to know more, but one also wants to forget it. One has heard both too much and not enough about Hiroshima. For the city evokes our entire nuclear nightmare, and any study of it must begin with this symbolic evocation. Its literal meaning, "broad island," suggests little more than the city's relationship to rivers and to the sea. Does one care about the literal meaning of Carthage, Troy...
2 The Atomic Bomb Experience
Anticipation is prior imagination, and the extent of one's capacity to imagine a profound event has important bearing upon the way in which one responds. In the case of Hiroshima's encounter with the atomic bomb, the predominant general tone was that of extreme surprise and unpreparedness. Neither past experience nor immediate perceptions— the two sources of prior imagination...
3 Invisible Contamination
Soon after the bomb fell—sometimes within hours or even minutes, often during the first twenty-four hours or the following days and weeks—survivors began to notice in themselves and others a strange form of illness. It consisted of nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite; diarrhea with large amounts of blood in the stools; fever and weakness; purple spots on various parts...
4 "A-Bomb Disease"
We have observed that physical fears experienced in relationship to early radiation effects could turn into lifetime bodily concerns. During the years that followed, these fears and concerns became greatly magnified by a development which has come to epitomize the hibakusha's third encounter with death: his growing awareness that medical studies were demonstrating an...
5 A-Bomb Man
Exposure to the atomic bomb changed the survivor's status as a human being, in his own eyes as well as in others'. He became a member of a new group: he assumed the identity of the hibakusha. Nor is this identity of significance only for atomic bomb victims. One of the methods I used to explore the nature of this identity was to encourage survivors to associate freely to the word hibakusha. In doing so, they inevitably conveyed...
6 Atomic Bomb Leaders
A few in Hiroshima could seize upon their hibakusha identity and put it to public use. They became the kind of leaders who emerge from any disaster, or general historical crisis, to help ordinary people cope with extraordinary circumstances. While it would be difficult to say that any of them belongs to the select category of the "great man/' each has aspired to exert upon his contemporaries the kind of influence characteristic of the great man: to combine personality and idea...
7 Residual Struggles: Trust, Peace, and Mastery
The limited attainments of A-bomb leaders suggest the depth of residual conflict. The conflict has existed within individual hibakusha, in the general Hiroshima community, and, in fact, throughout all of postbomb society. Hibakusha struggles to absorb their experience are therefore problems of psychohistorical mastery. The contending symbols within and around...
8 Perceiving America
Since conducting the study, I have been constantly asked how survivors feel about America. The question is usually raised by other Americans, and behind it there is often either the fearful expectation of seething and unremitting hostility, or else the wishful one of no hostility at all. Even knowledge of man's generally ambivalent nature, or of his complex response to catastrophe...
9 Formulation: Self and World
The path beyond anger is formulation. By formulation I do not mean detached theories about the atomic bomb, but rather the process by which the hibakusha re-creates himself—establishes those inner forms which can serve as a bridge between self and world. Ideology and "world view"—often in their unconscious components—are central to the process, and by studying their...
10 Creative Response: 1) "A-Bomb Literature"
Artistic re-creation of an overwhelming historical experience has much to do with the question o'f mastery. Artists can apply to that experience their particular aesthetic traditions and individual talents to evolve new ways of "seeing" it and giving it form. In Hiroshima or elsewhere the relationship between the quality or popularity of artistic works and the degree of collective mastery...
11 Creative Response: 2) Artistic Dilemmas
The dramatic arts in many ways lend themselves particularly to the recreation of great historical events. As "performed literature/' drama can, at least ideally, supply vivid renditions of these events and at the same time build emotions around them that transform them into works of art. In relationship to the A-bomb experience we shall see there to be a great gap between this potential...
12 The Survivor
I have assumed throughout this book that psychological occurrences in Hiroshima have important bearing upon all of human experience. I have suggested in a variety of ways that we are all survivors of Hiroshima and, in our imaginations, of future nuclear holocaust. The link between Hiroshima and ourselves is not simply metaphorical, but has specific psychological components...
List of Survivors Quoted
Page Count: 606
Publication Year: 1991
OCLC Number: 868030268
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