Oh wow. When I wrote this as a title I had no idea that I would be writing it straight off the bat after having completed a mini project about land trauma. It’s like I want to write you a list of all the individuated causes of trauma I have come across over the last few weeks and even years, so that you might get a sense of what collective trauma actually means. It’s a long list, some of which I have explored in a number of previous blog posts and I am sure at some point might translate into an E-Book or even a book, book. Some of the primary sources of personal trauma are land, religious, educational, economic, institutional, gender, race, sexuality. Yup it’s a shit show. As you will know if you are reading this as part of Feral The Systemic Healing Circle. I have defined myself as a Systemic Trauma Specialist. What that means is that I look at all the ways in which ‘The System’ creates trauma. How those traumas intersect and become amplified.
Each one of the above material trauma’s might form a more specific psychological manifestation of collective trauma. One facet of religeous trauma might be religious guilt or specifically Christian guilt, as a result of original sin. That as a result of being born of original sin you are inherently sinful (Yup it’s loaded). Even though we ourselves may not speficially experience the guilt of original sin, their are millions of people out their that do. Original sin and it’s emotional psychological implications is an experience known to many as well as being a belief that has been held intergenerationally and thus ancestrally for over a millenaia. When we begin to apprcaite the weight of such a concept and how long it has been held in the human field we begin to approciate the unseen power it might have over the collective field. This is collective trauma. Of course original sin is only one of thousands of internalised belief systems that might inform collective trauma. I wonder how many you can easily indentify within yourself?
Let me break it down for you a little more. You see we all carry trauma, intergenerational and even epigentic (trauma that is carried in our genes). For example many of us experience land trauma. We are dispossessd, do not live in the indigenous lands of our ancestors. We have no connection back to the roots that connect us to any of our ancestral lineages, where not raised speaking the mother tongue of or people of our clan. As a result many of us feel displaced or lost in the world, continually looking for a way back to ourselves. The reason of the disconnection can be multiplus from family fueds to, economic deprivation, famine, war and much much more.
Many of these events that caused the displacement and disconnection become point of cultural trauma for example slavery, the Irish Potaoe Famine, The Holocaust. These are historical events who’s impacts move through time and create historical trauma. As each of these event impact an individual, a family, a community, a national identity they become part of cultural identity, collective consciousness and thus part of our collective trauma. As it is up to each individual, family, community, nation to resolve this trauma, trauma becomes fluid moving through realtionship, generations, spaces waiting to be healed.
Other things too can contribute to collective trauma such as sexism and racism. Collective trauma can be so prevelant yet appear to be invisible. That it is something so obvious that we might not even fully recognise it’s impact like World War Two or in South Africa, Apartheid. Collective trauma can also extend to intersecting structures of ‘The System’ like Colonialism, Religion and Education. When we really take our time to get to know people community and places there are common threads of collective trauma that run through all our lives. This does not mean to to say that Collective Trauma affects all of us the same. Some people have recurring nightmares, others dysfunctional family sytstems, while many of us battle with collective trauma as part of a ‘mental health’ innerscape. Inequality also plays it’s part in sustaining collective trauma. It is not as straight forward as either cultural or strucutural trauma often collective trauma can manifest in the environments that we live in.
So to put it succintly and as far as I am concerned Collective Trauma is how we psychically hold Systemic Trauma. Yes I just said the word psychically.