Working With Collective Trauma

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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, and requires different kinds of interventions and rehabilitations in order to treat.

Just wanted to share some thoughts about what has been happening- most important for me was to know what was happening in other countries as to how they are affected and dealing with the pandemic. Watching live videos and people sharing about their experiences and struggles have helped me get in touch with my own struggles and questions too. The feeling of solidarity especially knowing that many groups and organizations are doing their part in helping cope with this crisis. The different opinions given by individuals and networks have helped me understand the whole picture and sift from those information what might be true and what is not helpful. Feeling connected with my own context and the global context is what gives me the hope and inspiration to act as ONE!

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That was really a beautiful show. Felt lots of moral indignation as the show developed and brought up my own personal collective trauma patterns related to class divisions in society. Really thought the contributions from others deepened the discussions and could see the complexity emerge within Keith’s dialogue from the reflections from others. I was wondering about the approach of both Corey and Keith and feeling that they were reflecting and representing the divide from left and right. Keith appearing to be more orientated towards individual responsibility towards their own trauma and Corey bringing in the structural, historical and political dimensions of collective trauma. Holding the differences in approach and finding loving, compassionate awareness for the leaders who are not capable of doing this towards themselves or others was great to see. I felt that I evolved while I was watching the show and to finish with the collective we meditation brought tears to my eyes as I felt a deep connection to all. Integral life is a shining beacon of hope in these difficult times and the deep resonance coming from the years of practice meeting the emerging crisis, offering some direction and clarity is just what is needed. Thanks for a great show!

Every day now, increasingly, one reads headlines in the internet news that have the word pain,loss, or grief in them. While individual personal psychological trauma is largely marked by fear and anxiety, collective trauma in general is marked by feelings of loss and grief (and their derivatives at times, such as anger). With the pandemic and economic shutdown, there is so much of that. Start with a read of this article to understand the varieties of loss and grief we’re talking about: Or consider that loss breaks down into different categories: loss of attachments (to people, roles, concepts of self, body/health, life); loss of turf (place/space, home, position/status, etc.); loss of structure (routines, activities, jobs, framework of daily life); loss of future (dreams, plans, goals, ideas of what the future would be); loss of meaning (sense of reality or sense of self or world/others shattered); loss of control (in any domain or aspect of life). (Angeles Arrien, citing William Bridges). There are different kinds of grief as well: immediate, anticipatory, and chronic prolonged grief, for example.

Collective trauma also often has implications in the area of morality. For instance, “moral injury,” a term first used to describe Vietnam veterans who returned from the war with a sense of having transgressed their own conscience, their own sense of right and wrong. Some experts say moral injury in veterans is more likely to be causative in suicide than PTSD, and the VA is just beginning to address it. But veterans are not the only people who experience moral injury. Long before the pandemic, moral injury was being described in health care professionals; doctors and nurses who were in the position of having to make decisions not based on best patient care, but on insurance, “managed care” and hospital policies. During the pandemic, moral injury has become even more acute, with some health care workers having to consider rationing care and contemplating how to decide who to treat/try to save, and who not (including decisions about themselves).

These Integral episodes around the pandemic and its fall-out are definitely needed, imo, and maybe the need for doing some shows focusing on loss and grief will become apparent. I think of David Kessler, author of “Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief” as probably a good resource. He worked with Kubler-Ross (and also Mother Theresa) and is offering some free online support groups to help during the pandemic with loss and grief (at

I also think, since there are going to be Integral podcasts focused on art/beauty, that this is another way that Integral can keep some focus on “these particular times,” as art can bring new and different narratives, and offer the chance to “step outside oneself” for a moment, get some distance.

Thanks for all you are doing.

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