chapter  Five
Identity-damaging social and cultural forces
ByMark Bracher
Pages 34

The perpetrators of social problems, people have seen, are motivated by their need to enact, be recognized for, and/or defend their identity contents in ways that are harmful to others. There are two basic ways to do this. The first way is preventive. It involves eliminating, reducing, avoiding, or counteracting social and cultural forces that damage, threaten, or deplete identity or that promote the development of malignant identity contents and defences. The second way is supportive and developmental. It involves providing opportunities to develop, enact, and be recognized for multiple benign, prosocial identity contents and integrated, inclusive identity structures. Our failure to recognize and understand the traumatic, identity-damaging root causes of social problems is thus itself both an effect of these causes and a major impediment to ameliorating the problems. The best recognized instance of trauma is probably that suffered by military personnel in combat, which is often taken as a prototype for trauma.