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Seligman, S. Ipp, H. Bass, A. (2017). Working in the Shadow of the Election: The Day After At Work in the Aftermath of the Trump Victory: Editors’ Introduction. Psychoanal. Dial., 27(2):111-112.
(2017). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 27(2):111-112
Working in the Shadow of the Election: The Day After At Work in the Aftermath of the Trump Victory: Editors’ Introduction
Stephen Seligman, Hazel Ipp and Anthony Bass
In a recent op ed piece in the New York Times, Neil Gross (2016) noted that the aftermath of Trump’s election exhibits all the telltale signs of “collective trauma” (at least for his adversaries). Paraphrasing Emile Durkheim, the early 20th-century French sociologist and one of the principal architects of modern social science, Gross wrote, “norms, values and rituals [are] the linchpins of social order; they [provide] the basis for solidarity and social cohesion. Collective trauma occurs when an unexpected event severs the ties that bind community members to one another” (para. 5).
He went on to show how the Trump campaign and victory both reflect and contribute to just such a phenomenon. On one hand, there is the collective trauma of those whose communities have been hollowed out by the decline of the manufacturing jobs on which they had relied, who believed that Trump would restore the world order that they lost. On the other hand, Gross (2016) argued,
For progressives, moderates and “Never Trump” Republicans, the political order they long took for granted—defined by polarization, yes, but also by a commitment to basic principles of democracy and decency—is suddenly gone. … Mr. Trump’s victory signals that that world, with the assurances it offered that there were some lines those seeking power wouldn’t cross (or that the American electorate wouldn’t let them cross), is no longer. Rightly or wrongly, memories have been activated of historical traumas linked with anti-democratic politics, such as the emergence of fascism in interwar Europe and the rise of Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. (paras. 11–12)
Perhaps, we might add, these voters have now come to feel something of what others, like many of the Trump supporters along with people of color and others for whom the American dream has long been a disappointment, have felt for a long time.
Many of us have been experiencing the effects of this collective trauma, living and working in states of distress, disbelief, fear, shock, and despair, even as we attempt to help our patients cope with the effects of the collective trauma that we now share on their personal efforts to use therapy to cope,
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