chapter  Chapter Two
10 Pages

New thoughts on genocidal trauma

ByAndreas Hamburger

It is a significant semantic operation to metaphorically apply the term “trauma” to a social and mental phenomenon. The medical term “trauma” was used for physical injury, violently piercing through the skin. Psychoanalytic discourse is one of the voices that brought the concept of trauma to public attention. Caregivers under a threat of persecution in reality can hardly provide the secure base the child needs to distinguish between his inner fears, experienced in equivalence mode as outer threats, from reality. When a healthy social environment is able to provide a good-enough “eudaimonia” through protective social institutions and healing mechanisms like judicial institutions, social security, everyday narratives, urban legends and myths, jokes, and social and cultural events, including the benign subgroup formations celebrated in sports, then all these social processes can be compared to the “pretend play” by which the infant learns to distinguish phantasy and reality and develop pro-social behaviour.