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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 38 (1996) 12

New research

After The Rites of Spring: trauma in a cultural perspective

B.P.R. Gersons

The Great War has brought about on a large scale a tremendous interest in posttraumatic stress disorder. Never before so many died in a war which as looked upon afterwards must be characterized as completely devoid of sense. The historian Ekstein has taken the ballet of Stravinsky The Rites of Spring, which was performed immediately before the start of the war, as a declarative metaphor for this senseless war. Especially the connection he has made between `the birth of the modern time', in which the Germans on the one side and the French and the English on the other side related very differently, gives a new insight into the social and cultural differences on both sides. In this essay this difference has been taken into consideration to explain the impressive difference in response towards and the working through of wartraumas as a threat of the established civilization, while on the German side it has become con-nected with an inward directed frame of a sublime culture.