On social trauma

Photo: The Holocaust Memorial at Legion of Honor.
The Holocaust Memorial at the Legion of Honor, San Francisco.

Every month Somatic Perspectives on Psychotherapy provides interviews with clinicians and thinkers who take a somatic approach to psychotherapy and studying the human condition. The interview below with Eric Wolterstorff focuses on social trauma, which is defined as “the impacts of threats, disasters, deprivation and violent conflict on the capacity of societies to adapt to the world, regulate and nourish themselves, and develop” (from the Somatic Perspectives website). Wolterstorff uses neuropsychology, traumatology, and family systems theory in his exploration of how groups and societies deal with overwhelming events.

In the interview, Wolterstorff describes how various roles (Perpetrator, Victim, Savior) are both taken and projected in traumatic reenactments, including in psychotherapy. He also gives an interesting explanation of how the roles we identify with can contribute to feeling overwhelmed, and shows how a similar phenomenon on a social level contributes to splitting into disconnected, opposing groups. Very thought-provoking ideas, which Wolterstorff backs with community involvement.

You can listen to the interview with Wolterstorff on social trauma or download a PDF transcript.

© 2012 Laura K Kerr, PhD. All rights reserved (applies to writing and photography).