Collective trauma is a distressing psychological disturbance experienced by the public or group of people encountering a tragic event. The trauma can affect societies, populations of any size, nations, and even the world, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Causes of Collective Trauma
When people witness or experience significant events, their feelings and reactions get affected. At times, such events cause changes in the culture of a society and mass actions. Below are various events that may produce collective trauma among people.
- Pandemics such as the coronavirus
- Terrorist attacks
- Economic failures
- Wars among countries and military conflicts
- Mass attacks and violence
- Natural disasters
Also, there are different types of traumas. Some occur suddenly and in a moderately limited period. Examples include the Hurricane Maria and September 11 terrorist attacks. Others are long-term and less immediate, such as COVID-19, military conflicts, and economic depression.
Occasionally some people witness these events firsthand, while in some cases, others observe them through mass media such as the 2001 terrorist.
Impacts of Collective Traumas
At the societal level, research indicates that the effects of collective traumas can last for future generations due to:
- Persistent individual and group fears
- Increased alertness for possible threats
- Feelings of disgrace or shame
- Impaired national pride
- Vulnerability feelings
Although these impacts are always tricky to study, trends that may result from collective trauma include:
Mental distress is common after a trauma occurs, as indicated in one research investigating immediate and long-term impacts of the 9/11 attacks. The researchers in this study evaluated more than 3,000 people and discovered that exposure based on media information created increased psychological distress. These include PTSD, acute stress, and constant fears of impending terrorist attacks.
Collective trauma can affect social attitudes and beliefs. For instance, people who experienced traumatic events may develop specific opinions from them. Additionally, researchers believed that the September 11 terror attack contributed a significant factor in intensifying the alleged risk of external threats. Also, they felt the attacks played a role in powering, prejudice, xenophobia, and intolerance.
Collective trauma is not always equal since people are affected and experience the trauma differently from others within the group.
Although everyone may face varying psychological impacts, the most vulnerable group tends to encounter the most significant problems. For instance, those who lack access to essential resources and ample supports are likely to experience worse outcomes from collective trauma.
A Word from the Recover
There are additional impacts of collective trauma apart from these. Everyone or society as a whole experiences collective trauma differently. It can change how people view themselves and others.
Besides, the current coronavirus pandemic has affected many businesses and employment globally. Whether you are rich or poor, employed or unemployed, no one is safe from contracting the virus. Everyone can confess it has influenced their life in one way or the other.
While nobody can understand the ultimate psychological impact of a pandemic, we can only hope that it strengthens the bonds among people. Besides, if you or your loved one is experiencing mental distress from the coronavirus pandemic, you can find professional support near you. Ensure to check and inquire about the services offered to know if they can address your needs.