English | 2004

Collective Trauma: The Nightmare of History

By: Arlene Audergon

[Psychotherapy and Politics International, 2004].

Although trauma is usually examined as an individual experience, it is a collective dynamic. Whole communities are traumatized and dynamics of trauma involve all of us and affect the course of history. An orientation to understanding trauma is needed that is at once personal, communal and political. This paper discusses why understanding the dynamics of trauma is essential for facilitators of conflict resolution in zones of conflict and for post-war reconciliation and community building. It also considers that, in addition to international tribunals and truth commissions, there is a need for community forums throughout society to work with issues of accountability and collective trauma concerning past and current conflicts. Trauma is also relevant to such issues as understanding dynamics of revenge, the silence accompanying atrocity, and hostorical revisionism.

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