Thursday, March 25, 2021
Transgenerational Transmissions, Chosen Trauma,
and Entitlement Ideologies in the Context of World Diplomacy
featuring Vamik Volkan, M.D.
Sponsored by the Dept. of World Languages and Cultures
Co-sponsored with the Program in Medical Humanities
The presentation will start with the story of a very rich man who would machinegun 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 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.
Vamık Volkan, MD, who received his medical education at the School of Medicine, University of Ankara, is an emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia; an emeritus training and supervising analyst at the Washington-Baltimore Psychoanalytic Institute; and an emeritus Senior Erik Erikson Scholar at the Erikson Institute of the Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, Mass. He is the emeritus president of the International Dialogue Initiative and a former president of the Turkish-American Neuropsychiatric Society, the International Society of Political Psychology, the Virginia Psychoanalytic Society, and the American College of Psychoanalysts. Dr. Volkan was a member of the International Negotiation Network (INN) under the directorship of former President Jimmy Carter. Among other positions held, he has been a consultant to the World Health Organization in Albania and Macedonia; a member of the International Advisory Board, Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; an inaugural Yitzhak Rabin Fellow, Rabin Center for Israeli Studies, Tel Aviv; a visiting professor of psychiatry, University of Ankara; a visiting professor of political psychology, Bahceşehir University, Istanbul; a visiting professor of law, Harvard University; and a Fulbright/Sigmund Freud-Foundation visiting scholar of psychoanalysis in Vienna, Austria. Dr. Volkan was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times with letters of support being sent from twenty-seven countries. He has been a recipient of the Nevitt Sanford, Elise Hayman, Bryce Boyer, Hans Strupp, Sigmund Freud (given by the city of Vienna), and Mary Sigourney awards, and the Margaret Mahler Literature Prize. He holds honorary doctorate degrees from Kuopio University (now called the University of Eastern Finland); Ankara University; the Eastern European Psychoanalytic Institute, Russia; and Eastern Mediterranean University and Kyrenia-American University, both in North Cyprus. The author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of sixty psychoanalytic and psycho-political books, some of which have been translated into Chinese, Finnish, German, Greek, Japanese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, and Turkish, Dr. Volkan has written hundreds of published papers and book chapters and has served on the editorial boards of sixteen national or international professional journals.