Psychological Trauma and Cultural Trauma

Neil J. Smelser

in Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780520235946
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936768 | DOI:
Psychological Trauma and Cultural Trauma

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Sigmund Freud, a neurologist and the founder of the psychoanalysis discipline, had characterized the memory of trauma as “a foreign body which long after its entry must continue to be regarded as an agent that is still at work.” Freud started to investigate and study more about psychological trauma, and it turned out that in his preliminary formulations, the thought of trauma is not to be conceived so much as a distinct casual event as part of a process-in-system. Going back to cultural trauma, the Protestant Reformation qualifies as a cultural trauma because of the primary risk that it posed to the honor and dominance of the Catholic cultural worldview. Many believe that cultural trauma refers to a persistent and vast event which is believed to undermine or overwhelm one or several elements of a culture or the culture as a whole.

Keywords: Sigmund Freud; trauma; psychoanalysis; cultural trauma; memory

Chapter.  11447 words. 

Subjects: Social Theory

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