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Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity$
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Jeffrey Alexander

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520235946

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520235946.001.0001

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Psychological Trauma and Cultural Trauma

Psychological Trauma and Cultural Trauma

(p.31) Chapter 2 Psychological Trauma and Cultural Trauma
Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity

Neil J. Smelser

University of California Press

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

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