The Department of World Languages and Cultures and the Medical Humanities Program are proud to welcome Dr. Vamik Volkan, a world-renowned Turkish Cypriot psychiatrist/psychoanalyst and international peace negotiator. A five-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, the author of hundreds of publications, the recipient of a great many awards and honorary degrees around the world, it is truly an honor for us to have him as a guest.
The presentation will start with the story of a very rich man who would machine gun a herd of deer from a helicopter when facing an anxiety provoking event. How the task of becoming an animal killer was transmitted to him during his childhood from a stepfather will be illustrated.
Following this story, the presentation will focus on large groups, thousands or millions of people who share the same ethnic, national, religious or ideological identity and sentiments. Each large group has its own language, nursery rhymes, history and cultural symbols. “Chosen trauma” as a large-group identity marker will be described. This term refers to the shared mental image of an event in a large group’s history in which the group suffered a catastrophic loss, humiliation, and helplessness at the hands of enemies or opponents. The chosen trauma is transmitted from one generation to the next one throughout many decades even centuries. Some political and social leaders may inflame a chosen trauma in order to fuel an entitlement ideology; a shared sense of entitlement to recover what was lost in reality and fantasy during the ancestors’ collective trauma and during other shared traumas. Such inflammations create problems in world diplomacy as well as in peaceful co-existence between divided sections within the same country.