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Victims' Symptom : glossary:collective-trauma
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Collective trauma

Collective trauma is a traumatic experience shared by a group of people or even an entire society. Various authors have investigated this phenomena and its influence on society's dynamics and culture. It includes transgenerational transference of the traumaPsychological trauma can happen soon after witnessing or being the victim of a traumatic event ..., experiences, and is can effect forming of individual or societal identity.

Hirst et al. (2008) investigated how social scientists locate collective memories in the social resources that shape them. From one perspective, collective memories are explained as “transcending individuals” or as being “in the world”. Others think that individuals must remember collective as well as individual memories. They understand collective memories as shared individual memories. Hirst et al. tried to bridge these two approaches by making a difference between the design of social resources and memory practices.

Wessel et al. (2008) considered the concept of collective memory by making distinction between collective memories as a property of groups (“collectivistic memory”) and on the other hand, memories that are a property of individuals who are an integral part of their social environment (“social memory”). They think that issues induced by collaborative remembering may be beneficial for recovery iafter the traumatic experience.

Bohleber et al. (2007) discuss that traumatic memories are not subject to transformation by the present when they are retrieved. Those memories constitute one form of foreign body in the psychic-associative network, and therefore they are not an exact replica of the traumatic experience but undergo specific remodellings. Process of psychotherapy requires remembrance and reconstruction of the traumatic eventPsychological trauma can happen soon after witnessing or being the victim of a traumatic event ...s. Social discourse of historical truth for both the individual and society that is connected with disasters is defined as “man-made”. Refusing to remember or understand often stems from the desire to avoid confrontation with the horrors and the victimsIn different sciences the term victim has different meanings. The term is most often use in criminology, religion, psychotherapy and New Age context ...' suffering. Especially with the HolocaustHolocaust is the term generally used to describe the killing of approximately six million European Jews during World War II, as part of a program of deliberate extermination planned and executed by the National Socialist (Nazi) regime in Germany led by Adolf Hitler ..., the further problem is how to avoid its subjugation in historical description to categories that eliminate the horror and traumatic nature of the events. Remembering crimes unfolds a special set of dynamics. One example is their transgenerational effects on post-war German society.

Goren (2007), investigated the nature of the attacks on September 11thThe September 11, 2001 attacks (often referred to as 9/11) were a series of coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda upon the United States ..., involvement of society as virtual eyewitnesses of these attacks, and traumatizing impact on the cultural consciousness. Psychological processes of identification, dissociationPersons with dissociative disorders feel as though they have no identity, they are confused about who they are, or they experience multiple identities ... and splitting allowed idealization at a safe distance when the collective tried to abort the mourningMourning, act of bereavement, grief and mourning are terms that apply to the psychological reactions of those who survive a significant loss ... process and overcome the pain and helplessness of traumatic griefGrief without complications is a normal response to loss. In the first phase it is usually manifested as a state of shock, with expression of numbness or bewilderment ... by going to war.



  • Hirst W, Manier D.Towards a psychology of collective memory. Memory. 2008;16(3):183-200.
  • Wessel I, Moulds ML. Collective memory: A perspective from (experimental) clinical psychology. Memory. 2008;16(3):288-304.

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