The study of History has always fascinated me. I enjoy learning about the origin or the beginning of things. In my childhood I was curious where babies came from. I remember asking my mother how my younger sisters got into her tummy. She tried explaining but I was not satisfied with her answer. Since we lived close to the sea, I wanted to know where all the water from the sea came from. I would sit by her side while she was doing laundry with my list of questions about where things came from. Exasperated by my inquiries she would ask me to go play and stop badgering her with my questions.
In high school, I excelled in History. Needless to say, it was my favorite subject. I had no trouble remembering dates, people, things, and places involved in important events in the history of human civilization. In college, I enjoyed my classes in astronomy, human system, psychology, cosmology, and any subject that provided explanation on how certain things came about. Now I occupy myself following the exciting developments in Anthropology and Paleoarcheology, Cosmology, Evolutionary Psychology, among others. I’m very curious this way.
“I realize that learning history or understanding the genesis of the cosmos, for example, is intellectually stimulating because it involves using my imagination. I have an underlying desire or wish I was there to witness history unfold or an event take place.”
I realize that learning history or understanding the genesis of the cosmos, for example, is intellectually stimulating because it involves using my imagination. I have an underlying desire or wish I was there to witness history unfold or an event take place. I try to recreate the event in my head, a verisimilitude through my imagination. When a piece of history intrigues me I dwell on it for a while, visualizing how it may have looked or felt being there myself as a witness or even a participant. I enjoy this type of fantasy. Perhaps this helps make it easier for me to remember historical facts because I also try to re-live them. When I visit places of historical importance, I tend to do the same. I collect and is fascinated by artifacts that help me go back in time. I start imagining how it may have looked and felt living in that distant time.
This habit, if you can call it that, helps me see current events with a different perspective. I tend to connect events and the people involved in them, and how, for example, their perception and temperament may have been shaped by the past and continue to influence the course of history. It helps me empathize with how certain people come to understand what is going on with their country, although their view may be quite short-sighted.
For example, “Why do Islamic people still use the word or concept of a crusade or jihad when it seems anachronistic?” “Why do Jews, Christians, and Muslims, who trace a common ancestry to Abraham, have such virulent opinions regarding their differences in religious doctrines and treat each other as adversaries?”
“How do we conduct a large-scale therapeutic process for a nation to purge its guts of the poisons inflicted in the past? Although history cannot be undone, its consequences continue to unravel before our very eyes.”
It makes sense to view current events in the context of the psycho-history of a people or nation or region involved as actors or “acted-upon” by those events. Crucial historical events such as colonialism, slavery, religious, ethnic, or political persecution, the holocaust, genocide, war, etc. leave behind not only physical destruction but also deep scars in the psyche of people.
Oftentimes, these unforgotten wounds persist through generations, just waiting to explode like a ticking bomb. Look at what happened between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes in Rwanda, for example, or the genocide in the Balkans, and now in the Middle East. How do we conduct a large-scale therapeutic process for a nation to purge its guts of the poisons inflicted in the past? Although history cannot be undone, its consequences continue to unravel before our very eyes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.