Michael Reddy, Ph.D, CPC
           Healer  Trainer  Author   610 469 7588

Thursday June 29, 2017
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How Collective Trauma Works--also in COOL DIAGRAMS

First, let's demystify "collectives."

Even though we North Americans have been fed the "rugged individualist" mystique for a couple centuries now--YOU are already a collective.

Cells, organs, hormonal and nervous systems, personality parts. Whatever level you want to look at, you are the result of cooperation (or the lack of it) between smaller, individual wholes.

So if the collective that is you can get traumatized (previous article), it makes sense that larger collectives you belong to can suffer disconnects and separations as well.

Let's Start with the Simplest

In Box 1, you see the structure of an African termite mound.  Look at all the organized activities they carry out, even though there's no central "brain." 

Every individual is like a neuron in what we call a "distributed intelligence."

Collective Trauma Diagrams Box1

Obviously, even this "simplest" collective organism is capable of amazingly smart, adaptive behaviors.

What Happens When We
Scale Up Through the Species?

Look at herds, packs, troupes of primates in Box 2.  In each case the amount of personal intelligence in each individual member goes up. But the collective "brain" formed by the group doesn't go away--it also gets smarter.  This is a consequence of the mammalian social empathy and limbic systems.

Collective Trauma Diagrams Box2

In we humans, that means that tight, survival oriented groups like families have a major, subconscious, distributed social intelligence.  In constellation work, we call it the "family soul," and it has definite characteristic behaviors.  Want to know what they are?

Here's a quick list of the major features.

Collective Trauma Diagrams Box3

Well--That's a Lot...
What's Most Important Right Now??

You're right.  A lot of fine print.  So I'll explain some of these in future newsletters.

Right now, let's just focus on Characteristic F--unprocessed trauma in your ancestral family system can surface in analogous ways in later generations.  Here's a simple example of what that means.

Collective Trauma Diagrams Box4

Resolving Displacements of Fate

In Box 4, it was not Don's fate to die of a concussion, or to have to grieve a lost child.  Because his grandparents never came to terms with their fates, his body is expressing it for them.  This is happening through resonance in the family's subconscious, distributed intelligence.  Treating Don's migraines as individual problem in this situation often fails.  It's the family soul that wants to get well--and Don's just re-membering this with his symptoms.

Collective Trauma Diagrams Box5

Family Constellations
Treat the Whole System

As you can see in Box 5, in a process resembling unscripted psychodrama, a skilled facilitator can resolve these displacements of fate.  A group of representatives standing in a healing circle help Don give the difficulte fates of his Uncle and Grandparents back to them.  Done well, these rituals can either resolve the client's issues spontaneously, or else allow previously failed treatments to do the job.

Collective Trauma Diagrams Box6

Trauma is a Vicious Circle
In Our World

In Box 6, you see the terrible consequences of ignoring the central role of emotional trauma in our culture.  Unprocessed individual trauma creates collective family and organizational trauma.  And then these families and corporations and governments traumatize more and more generations of children.

Leading edge authorities like Dan Siegel (Mindsight), Peter Levine (In an Unspoken Voice), Robert Scaer (The Trauma Spectrum) and the team of Ogden, Minton, and Pain (Trauma and the Body) all see various forms of trauma as the root cause of most chronic physical and emotional suffering.

And I see this vicious circle as a root cause of things like our toxic economic systems and our destruction of the Earth.


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