Trauma and the Mind
Traumatic events call into question basic human relationships. They
breach the attachments of family, friendship, love and community.
They shatter the construction of the self that is formed and sustained
in relation to others.
—Judith Lewis Herman (1992)
NEW ROOTS, OLD ROOTS
In the fall 2002 edition of Spirituality and Health, editor-in-chief Robert Scott relates a conversation he had with Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa about the Archbishop's reactions to the September 11, 2001 (9–11) incident in America. Desmond Tutu is quoted as saying,
I believe that one of the things that came out of 9–11 was realizing that
you are vulnerable…. At the moment you don't know how to handle that
because you are living with the illusion of being invincible. … Maybe
just maybe Americans will realize that sense of insecurity as a daily fear
of your sisters and brothers in other parts of the world … where (peo-
ple) don't know from one moment to the next whether they're going to
survive. … “In South Africa” that was a daily experience, this sense of
insecurity, this sense of being fragile, that you are here today and gone
tomorrow (Tutu, 2001).
As described previously, those of us who live in North America have certainly been fortunate in the limited number of mass traumas which we have experienced. Nevertheless, research findings from a nationally