chapter  1
Pages 10

A COMPARISON OF ARMENIANS directly affected by the 1988 earthquake with Armenians personally traumatized as a result of the Armenian-Azerbaijan ethnic conflict during the same year (Goenjian et al., 2000) concludes that, after 18 months and again after 54 months, there were no significant differences in individual "PTSD severity, profile, or course ... between subjects exposed to severe earthquake trauma versus those exposed to severe violence" (p. 911). Such statistical studies measuring observable manifestations of trauma's lasting effects (anxiety, depression, or other signs of PTSD) are misleading, however, insofar as they do not reveal much about individual minds or hidden psychological processes; apparent symptomatic uniformity can hide significant qualitative differences. Furthermore, such studies do not illuminate the societal processes that may result from shared trauma and their long-term (transgenerational) effects. For instance, the fact that many Armenians injured in the earthquake refused to accept blood donated by Azerbaijanis suggests that the tragedy had actually enhanced ethnic feeling, including resistance to "mixing blood" with the enemy. In fact, there are various types of shared catastrophe, and they provoke various characteristic responses.