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Reactivating Group Trauma: McDonnell and Confederate History

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Molly Castelloe     Permalink
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Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's statement proclaiming April "Confederate History Month" shows how a regressive leader can reactivate societal trauma. The governor's 368-word declaration failed to mention slavery. He followed up with an apology for the omission a day later. McDonnell said he made the original proclamation to aid state tourism and "so people can at least study and understand that period of Virginia history and how it impacts us today." So let's talk about that time and how it is alive in the present.

When one group deliberately inflicts suffering on "others" as through slavery,the victimized group suffers certain psychological effects: shame, humiliation, guilt, and a decreased ability to be assertive.

McDonnell's declaration reinforces shared mental images of Black oppression within our national psyche and will likely perpetuate feelings of victimization for African-Americans.

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Transplanted from the south, Molly holds a doctorate in Performance Studies from New York University with a focus on theater and psychology. She has presented on the entwined subjects of performance and applied psychoanalysis at national symposia (more...)

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