Working With Collective Trauma

Dr. Keith WittDefenses, Emotional, Interpersonal, Perspectives, Psychology, Video, Witt & Wisdom: Live with Dr. Keith 3 Comments


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atch as Dr. Keith and Corey explore the meaning of “collective trauma”, in contrast to the personal traumas most of us are familiar with (and many are struggling with).

Collective trauma is more than the sum aggregate of all our our individual traumas. It is a trauma that exists between us, rather than within us individually — though it can certainly be internalized and expressed by an individual, and then transmitted from one individual to another. But they are different kinds of trauma, which require different interventions and rehabilitations in order to treat.

And genuine trauma — both individual traumas and shared collective traumas — is being generated every single day as a result of this pandemic.

Frantz Omar Fanon was a psychiatrist and political philosopher who believed that many mental health patients would benefit more from being re-integrated into their family and community, rather than isolating them and treating them institutionally. During the Algerian war he found it nearly impossible to treat Algerians for their trauma, because the horror of the war was still ongoing — in other words, he couldn’t treat individual traumas because they tended to originate in an ongoing shared trauma that was itself an endless source of individual traumas.

He said:

“Tyrants have always used their technique of “psychological artillery” in an attempt to cause havoc and confusion in the minds of people and hypnotize them with intimidation and cynicism. The result is a collective trauma that will pass through generations. There is no magic formula of rehabilitation. Collective trauma can be alleviated through cohesive and collective efforts such as recognition, remembrance, solidarity, communal therapy and massive cooperation.”

So our question to you is, how might Integral Life be of service to you? How can we help create platforms and community experiences that can help support this sort of “recognition, remembrance, solidarity, communal therapy, and massive cooperation”, at least within our own sphere of influence? If you have any thoughts, let us know in the comments below!

Music by Justin Miles and Stuart Davis

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Dr. Keith Witt

About Keith Witt

Dr. Keith Witt is a Licensed Psychologist, teacher, and author who has lived and worked in Santa Barbara, CA. for over forty years. Dr. Witt is also the founder of The School of Love.

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is editor and producer of Integral Life. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.