International Journal of

Communal and Transgenerational Trauma

Journal of
  Common Bond Institute  and
  International Humanistic Psychology Association

Editors Commentary

The inaugural issue of the International Journal of Communal and Transgenerational Trauma (IJCTT) makes it’s debut as the world is struggling with a convergence of shared existential threats.

  • We are moving through the 3rd year of the COVID-19 pandemic and another wave of the latest variant continuing to push the health care system to full capacity – and in many cases beyond capacity – as it struggles to meet overwhelming demand; even further complicated by the toll of widespread social isolation and an uncertain economy.
  • The Earth is undergoing a dramatically accelerating rate of climate change and environmental degradation that is progressively jeopardizing the viability of many regions for habitation, and where, rather than prevention or cure, the focus is beginning to shift toward coping and adaptation to a lesser level of planetary health.
  • Wars in Europe, the Middle East, and other zones of current conflict are generating mounting turmoil and loss of life, and increasingly disrupting overall global security.
  • The breadth and cumulative impact of these major stressors, coupled with various regional threats undermining the day to day safety and well-being of large portions of the world population, is contributing to an unprecedented and rapidly growing global refugee crisis.

The degree of collective sharing of this current situation is also particularly notable given the reach of today’s ever present, 24/7 institutional and grassroots communication capability that can immediately connect any one to anyone else in the world, allowing for nonstop direct and indirect exposure to all aspects and effects of these stressors.

Historically, it is uncommon for the entire global community to collectively and simultaneously experience such a convergence of multiple acute threats that carry the energy of trauma. More typically, while a limited portion of the population may experience some widespread disaster, the rest of the world continues to go on operating relatively normally, with it’s societal institutions and systems continuing to function predictably, and with little or no significant disruption to the status quo. In this scenario even an individual community directly effected by a widespread disaster may benefit from this difference, due to the rest of the world maintaining the potential to provide it with at least some level of essential resources, while also demonstrating the existence of the kind of stability and security it struggles to regain.

The pervasive and multi-causal nature of today’s circumstances poses more of an exception to that pattern and, at least at this date, with no clear endpoint.

These same circumstances also present a unique opportunity to turn more of our focused attention toward examining the qualities, process, and dynamics of the communal trauma experience in real time, the potential for trauma transference, and possible mechanisms for practical responses toward healing and prevention.

In recent years terms like communal trauma, collective trauma, transgenerational trauma, ancestral trauma, or historical trauma are slowly beginning to find their way into mainstream news reports, commentaries, and analysis of social, cultural, and political events; although usually with only passing reference and little or no explanation of what these terms actually mean or how they relate to the daily lives of the average person. In the social sciences and related fields (for example mental health, sociology, cultural anthropology, history, political science, epigenetics, etc.) there is increasing attention given to these issues both in terms of research and analysis and also practical application.

However, we have found there is the lack of a central, broadly available, and dedicated space in the field where colleagues involved in this work and others who can learn and benefit from it can readily access each others work and a reservoir of information focused on communal and transgenerational trauma. We also see the need for and benefit of a centralized venue where colleagues can find and connect with each other for the opportunity of essential dialogue and deliberation that can lead to developing practical means for more effectively addressing trauma at the large group and societal scale.

This journal is one offering in support of meeting this need as the first peer reviewed journal specifically devoted to communal and transgenerational trauma. As a free, open access, virtual publication it also provides wide access to the global professional community and lay public.

The concept for IJCTT has been germinating for several years and comes about out of more than 3 decades of our working with communities and societies in regions of conflict experiencing profound, collective psycho-social trauma, both human-made and due to natural disaster.

Spanning a broad range of related professional fields, and incorporating the lived experiences, perceptions, and insights of key stakeholders, it promotes a whole-person, cross-cultural perspective and exploration of psycho-emotional trauma. It seeks to accomplish this by inviting in, disseminating, and archiving a unique diversity of content and formats delving into the multifaceted and multidimensional dynamics, aspects, and intersections of the collective trauma experience, as well as the process and implications of profound unresolved trauma of individuals and the communities they make up extending into future generations as transgenerational trauma. It also provides features within the platform to learn of a wealth of related resources, events, and opportunities, and the option for colleagues to connect directly and interact with each other on the topic.

With this inaugural issue, the journal takes the initial steps in building a shared and growing knowledge base open to and relevant for academics, practitioners, policy makers, other key stakeholders, and the general public

Here are found scholarly articles, professional perspectives, and reviews that offer research, theory, philosophy, practical application, and policy recommendations, as well as pose important questions and areas of inquiry for further consideration and exploration. 

Here too are the intimate dimensions of personal experience and perception presented through personal perspective and narrative, and the expressive arts: poetry, prose, visual art, music, and multimedia; delving into the verbal and nonverbal language and landscape of trauma, trauma healing, and resilience building. Some of the most poignant and widely relatable articulations of the trauma experience and healing are through such subjective expressive mediums.

In the coming weeks and months we will be expanding on existing features and implementing additional ones to further enhance the usefulness of the journal platform, including:

  • A dedicated global Trauma Research and Development Network – an opt-in registry to promote connections and cooperation between professionals involved in research, theory, creating practical applications, and formulating public policy. Here will be opportunities for learning of colleagues around the world focused on the topic, and options for utilizing the platform as a forum for engaged dialogue and deliberation.
  • A growing virtual Resource library for archiving and sharing information and active links to relevant organizations, think tanks, researchers, projects, services, events, publications, and opportunities, as well as compiled references from the journal’s content in past issues.
  • Public Education programs

As organizations with a long track record in humanitarian disaster care work with large communities in peril, our commitment has historically been to shared knowledge and collaboration in service of more concerted and effective response to immense human need. IJCTT has been created as an extension of this intent.

Particularly given the most recent example of this extraordinary time when the world community is undergoing a period of multiple shared existential stressors, efforts to help better understand and attend to these communal experiences and their influence on our past, present, and future are vital.   

We intend for the journal to be a hub for contributing to this purpose in a manner that helps inspire and give voice to important learning, engagement, and cooperation by bringing together the shared expertise, knowledge, and insight required.

As IJCTT continues to implement it’s mission, and to grow and expand on it’s design in support of this mission, we invite feedback and suggestions on how the journal might be of additional benefit to those making use of the platform.     

♦  Steve Olweean, Co-Editor