Dienstag, 9. Dezember 2014

Chosen trauma and the inabilty to mourn

Not only do adults in a specific group sponsor shared suitable inanimate and non-human targets of projections for their children; when the children are capable of understanding, the adults also direct the children's investments towards the group's "chosen traumas" as well as "chosen glories." I use the term "chosen trauma" to refer to an event that causes a large group to feel helpless and victimised by another group and thus to share a narcissistic injury. A group does not really "choose" to lose self-esteem, but it does unconsciously "choose" to psychologise and mythologise an event (Volkan and Itzkowitz, 1994). The group draws the mental representation of a traumatic event into its very identity, passing the mental representation on from generation to generation as a psychological marker (Apprey, 1993; Rogers, 1979). For each new generation, the description of the actual event is modified; what remains is its role in the psychology of group identity. Once a trauma becomes a chosen trauma, the historical truth about it does not really matter. What does matter is the mental representation of the event, which is fused with emotions and is included in one's group identity and, in turn, in one's individual identity. Rogers (1990, p.250), describes how a shared feeling of hurt among the Ukrainians has lingered on since 1654, when Russia was united with the Ukraine. "Ukrainians perceive the evildoers to be Peter the Great, Catherine, Czar Alexander, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev."

Chosen traumas are connected with the group's inability to mourn, which was first described by the Mitscherlichs (1975), in relation to post-World War II Germany. Mourning is an obligatory human response that is initiated by change or loss. Groups mourn just like individuals (Volkan, 1977, 1988). If we are successful in mourning, in the end we accept the changes and the losses and identify with the lost object in an adaptive way. We assume some of the functions for ourselves that formerly were associated with the lost object, and we go on about our lives.

In war and war-like conditions, losses are drastic, and for the losing group the shared humiliation is immense. In order for an event to be a group's chosen trauma, it should be an event that cannot be mourned adaptively. The group may be too humiliated, too angry, or too helpless to mourn. This means that the group experiences a complicated grief reaction to the trauma and that this reaction, including shared narcissistic injuries as well as the various defences against them, are passed on from generation to generation. When referring to a chosen trauma, a group holds on to the principle of the "egoism of victimization" (Mack, 1979, p.xvi), where a group feels little or no empathy for an enemy's losses, "even if the victimization on the other side is palpably evident and comparable to or greater than one's own." This inability to mourn a chosen trauma is also passed on from one generation to the next. New generations may share a conscious or unconscious wish to repair what has been done to their ancestors and to unburden themselves of the humiliation that is now a part of their identity.

When a new conflict, war, or war-like condition develops, the current enemy's mental image becomes contaminated with the image of the enemy involved in the chosen trauma. The new enemy may be descendants of the original enemy, or they may not be in any way related to the original enemy. However, through the mental mechanism of displacement, a group with a chosen trauma contaminates its emotional attitude towards the new enemy with the enemy of their psychologised and mythologised history. It is in this way that the inability to mourn a chosen trauma influences the social and political ideologies of a given large group. And because the mental representations of chosen traumas come to be included in a group's identity, ethnicity and other large-group markers do not remain the same throughout their history.

There are also chosen glories: the mental representations of shared success stories that have passed from generation to generation. They are also often reactivated when the group is under stress and experiencing anxiety. A myth pertaining to the beginning of the group usually functions as a chosen glory—it functions like a booster vaccination to keep the group identity safe in bad times.

- Ethnicity and Nationalism: A Psychoanalytic Perspektive (Vamik D. Volkan, 1993)

Part 1: Healing the Wounds of History Conference Lebanon 2011 {14:51}

Veröffentlicht am 20.06.2013
Documentary (Part One) of the proceedings of the HWH Conference in Lebanon Nov 2011.

Under the High Patronage of His Excellency, the President of the Council of Ministers, Mr Najib Mikati, the Centre for Lebanese Studies (CLS) and the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace (GHFP), in partnership with the Institute of Diplomacy and Conflict Transformation, organised the International Conference on 'Healing the Wounds of History: Addressing the Roots of Violence'. The Conference was hosted by the Lebanese American University (LAU) on 11-13 November at its campus situated in the beautiful ancient city of Byblos, Lebanon.

The Conference explored the innovative psycho-social approaches to addressing the deeper roots of violence. The goal was to establish constructive relations between the people and communities in present-day Lebanon.

Part One of the documentary includes the keynote speeches given by Professor Vamik Volkan who highlighted the need to heal the wounds of history through forgiveness in order to avoid the transgenerational transmission of trauma. It also features other speakers who discusses the necessity of sharing narratives, of listening, of forgiveness and compassion in the process of healing and building solidarity after wars and violence in a society.

Featuring: Alexandra Asseily, George Asseily, Professor Vamik Volkan, Professor Antoine Messarra, Professor Leila Fawaz, Dr Eileen Boris, Reina Sarkis.

Nation States and The Westphalian Order {35:43}

Veröffentlicht am 30.11.2016
Nation States and The Westphalian Order
Alex Thomson presentation at Winchester Conference 2016
The British Constitution Group.
Restoring the Rule of Law to the British people.

The Psychology of the Modern Nation-State {2:04:52}

Hochgeladen am 07.12.2007
Roundtable discussion with Shukri Abed, Giorgio Freddi, Peter Loewenberg, Vamik Volkan, and Isser Woloch.

siehe auch:
Ethnopolitische Konflikte (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 10.02.2012)
- Entwicklung innerstaatlicher Kriege und gewaltsamer Konflikte seit dem Ende des Ost-West Konfliktes (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 24.06.2014)
- Volkan-Bücher ins Deutsche übersetzt bei Amazon (ungewollte Werbung, weil’s da Rezensionen gibt!)

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