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Turned into body by the other

Burwood, Stephen



Gill Jagger

Kathleen Lennon


Jean Améry’s autobiographical account of torture at the hands of the Gestapo provides the most striking, if also the most harrowing, example of how the body resurfaces in conscious awareness due to pain and how such experiences often reveal an ambiguity in one’s embodied identity. Améry was an Austrian-born Jew who spent the early years of the Second World War working for the Belgian Resistance. After his arrest in July 1943 he was taken to the Fort Breendonk ‘reception camp’ and tortured before being shipped to a series of concentration camps, including Auschwitz.1 The Gestapo shackled his hands behind his back and then raised him by a chain until he was suspended by his hands a metre above the floor. Améry describes in detail his desperate but ultimately futile attempt to prevent the inevitable: the shattering dislocation of his arms from his shoulder joints. His arms were torn from behind and were twisted back over his head. As he remarks dryly, ‘Torture, from Latin torquere, to twist’ (ibid.: 32). As if this were not enough, during all of this the Gestapo officer present horsewhipped him with incredible brutality.


Burwood, S. (2012). Turned into body by the other. In S. Gonzalez-Arnal, G. Jagger, & K. Lennon (Eds.), Embodied selves (119-138). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Publication Date Jan 1, 2012
Deposit Date Dec 19, 2014
Journal Embodied selves
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Pages 119-138
Book Title Embodied selves
Chapter Number 7
ISBN 9780230299740
Keywords REF 2014 submission
Public URL
Contract Date Dec 19, 2014

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