Evelin G. Lindner: Humiliation and Coping in War

Fragments of a Case-Study in Somalia 1998

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The film Humiliation and Coping in War is a compilation of short clips from Somaliland, cut from altogether ca. 10 hours of video material and 100 hours of audio material that Evelin Lindner collected in Somaliland in 1998 (the film was produced in 2000) and Rwanda/Burundi (1999) for her doctoral thesis The Psychology of Humiliation: Somalia, Rwanda / Burundi, and Hitler's Germany (University of Oslo, Department of Psychology, Part One of Doctoral Dissertation in Psychology (Part Two: 12 articles), submitted 31st October 2000, ISBN 82-569-1817-9).

I would like to thank Lasse Moer for his work in creating this film.

This film aims at giving an impression of Evelin Lindner's field work in Somaliland with a selection of local views and descriptions of occurrences of humiliation and resilience to humiliation. For resilience to humiliation, see particularly the stories of the SORRA group, whose members spent almost a decade in solitary confinement as punishment for wanting to help the hospital in Hargeisa (sharing the fate of many intellectuals around the world who are the first victims of dicators), and the experience of former first lady Edna Adan, who is now a Member of the Global Advisory Board of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies network (HumanDHS, www.humiliationstudies.org/) that grew out of Lindner's doctoral research. Also Hassan Keynan is a Member of the HumanDHS Global Advisory Board.

See here a transcription of parts of the interview with Edna Adan on 3rd December 1998:
- I think humiliation is a very difficult thing to describe. But I think humiliation is when someone tries to bring someone down to their level. They think that you are above them and they want to hurt you, humiliate you, bring you down to their level, so that you have no more self-respect, so that you lose the respect you have for yourself and others lose the respect they have for you.
Once they said I was planning to escape from the country, and I spent six days in jail for that. For the first, why didn't they wait until I tried to escape, why arrest me from my house! They put me in a cell of my own, but I didn't have a toilet. And right in front of the place where they put me, there was a toilet, and it had no doors. And there was the cell next to me, it was full of men, of criminals, of thieves, I don't know, just men, men all behind the bars. And, so I called out, and I said, - you know, - 'I, - I, - I need to go and use the bathroom!' And that is after I had been the first lady of the country! And they said: 'Well, you want to use the bathroom? There is the bathroom!  You use everybody's bathroom! There! You are not better than the others! There is the bathroom they use!' And I thought - how can I use the bathroom with no doors facing a cell full of men! Full of criminals and people who, - you know, - and I just came out of my cell and I just looked at those men, and I said: 'Listen. I am going to use this bathroom. And, would you be watching your mother or your sister if she was using a toilet and she had no door, - is this the kind of men you are that you would watch a woman using a bathroom?' And they said, 'No.' And the first one said 'turn around,' and they made everyone turn the other way, until I finished using the bathroom. And that was one of the most emotional moments of my time. And the police was so shocked, because they couldn't get their objective, they couldn't get me to be humiliated and using a bathroom with all these men watching and shouting at me. So, this is another form of resistance, and resisting humiliation!
- Does humiliation lead to war? I would answer that question by saying, 'Yes, it does!'
You can push human beings too far, just far enough until they turn back and say 'Hei, wait a minute, enough is enough.' And then they begin to resist with violence, with strength, with force, with whatever way they know. And, I think a good example of resisting humiliation through war is what has happened to our country, the people of Somaliland.
- The former first lady of Somalia, Edna Adan, also said: ‘I hope you have strong cupboards to put your conscience into! Where are all the weapons produced which kill innocent people?’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published June 5, 2012 2:15 PM - Last modified Sep. 8, 2015 1:20 PM