Thursday, October 8, 2015

Can a culture's trauma history produce collective PTSD? if not PTSD, how about collective cement shoes?

Ideas of epigenetic inheritance; or, less dramatic, trauma in lore, passed on.
Family or community problems and secrets passed down the line until someone gets it "right" or fixes it.
Direct Cultural Trauma Producing PTSD.
Indirect Cultural Trauma Producing Cement Shoes.

If the premise is reasonably valid, that a people's collective experience with religious, political or physical violence, trauma, can lead to behavioral and mindset ramifications restricting their volition and judgment ongoing, examine the cultural history of traumatized nations and groups to test it out.  Research is already tending to show actual genetic alterations in children of traumatized past generations, or generation, see Jewish children reflecting the trauma of their parents as in the Holocaust, see

A.  PTSD.  Look at PTSD as part of a cultural mindset where the trauma experienced is or has been direct.

Start with a very large nation of many disparate parts:  Russia.  What in its history has been humiliating, traumatic, how did rulers respond, what choices did people have, with what effect on their behavior, confidence, submission, willingness to challenge, ability to confront authority with reasonable safety and not debilitating fear.  The topic is not new, but has slid off the radar.  Is there a slant to groupthink, and fear.

Refresh recollection. See the BBC podcasts, first, at; and another at  The issue is discussed, with the pods, at  The Why Factor: Cultural Memory and PTSD, by Laura Kerr PhD.

For Russian history, I am trying to learn it better, but so far putting timelines together, there is plenty of invasion and oppression trauma. Check a possible feasible overview of Russian history *.  Can an analysis of groupthink, its origins, and fear, and PTSD involitional conditions, help in international relations in some way?

B.  Cement shoes.  Look at another response to trauma indirectly experienced; or pending-feared.

When finished with considering PTSD in Russia, including its leaders who enter into the circular abuse pattern, sudden unpredictable violences, look here at home for another cultural reaction, the donning of concrete footwear as a defense to anything that suggests autonomous thinking, not groupthink, is a good thing. 

The United States.  What in our collective religious, political, physical history, including Western Europe from whence we originally stemmed, has been humiliating, traumatic.  This includes present-day fear of unspeakable loss for some -- loss of privilege, status, no more supremacism based on tint or not.

 How did our leaders respond, what choices did our people have, and so on.  How do they.  The premise in the case of the United States is not PTSD, because we are insular, geographically removed, have never been invaded (until now), and enjoy a lofty perch from which we judge and bewail.  The premise instead is that such groups who see or have experienced trauma in the past (then moved here for safety, opportunity), still live with it and show it by wearing cement shoes.

We have the most absolutist, most recalcitrant, most religiously authoritatively convinced of Universal-Unquestionable-Rightness set of legislators nationally and overall in the states, that we have seen.  Ever?  Well, hardly ever.  You'd think that Dear Brother James, who ought to know because he was there, wrote that wisdom is willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits or something, without a trace ot partiality or hypocrisy (where is that anyway?  look up James 3:13-4:3, 7-8.  Oh, no.  None of that.  We are right, we will bring everybody down before we, the Great We, yield to a common good. We like our cement shoes!  They fit, they are firm, they enable us to stand taller than we are.  We have no interest in moving.

Rigidity.  Fear of change, new information. Was our behavior in the crusades, then and now, worse than others?  See There is still fear, collective recollection of crusades now painted as mere benevolence on horseback to persuade the recalcitrant to become Christian, thank you, inquisitions, wars exploiting people as part of a cultural mindset that produces the no-budgers.  I will not budge, I will stand firm right here regardless of anybody else, and does that emerge where the trauma experienced or has been more indirect. If I lose my privileged position, what is left for me? Pre-traumatic stress disorder.

 Can education help? Is this mindset because people want to fall in line instead of vet what they are told to believe?  See a timeline for the US at
Add the trauma in lore factor.  Stories, urban legends, currently anticipatory trauma in warnings of jack-booted government thugs coming for your guns. What are we doing to our children with that, and everything else we pass on about our fave activities. See adult activities victimizing children. Even well-intentioned infliction of pain may affect them.

Cement shoes.  Choosing to deathgrip what you think you must have or deserve, instead of assessing problems and opening up to solutions.   Cement shoes. Thinkware for sinkers. Environmental factors, like what adults tell children, affecting the children's in ways devastating to their autonomy. See Study above. Spooky.

And now to the House....

* Is this accurate as to Russian history:  For full laundry lists of names, events, see

Overview of Russian History.

1. Slavs, other groups, and then the dominant Scandinavians, Varangians, Vikings. Rurik and the Rurikids rule and intermarry with Slavs and others, pre-750 to1237, the Mongol invasion.  The Rurikid Dynasty is established. Rurikids moved to and ruled from Kiev, trading down the rivers to Constantinople and even Baghdad, with ongoing and brutal warfare against strong nomadic and Slavic and other groups at home, who were brutal in return, but the Rurikid Dynasty and its succession mechanisms survived. Then came the Mongols: decimation of populations and cities that refused to surrender immediately.  Kiev.  Gone. Princes. Put on leashes. See

2.  1237 - 1480 when the last Mongol was out of power, the last Tatars (Turks converted to Islam) who replaced them were displaced. Tsars exercise power again.  Under the Mongols, Princes and others were forced into full submission (except Novgorod that was beyond the Mongol reach for a variety of reasons).  Yet, once the Mongols were in control and the Princes on leashes, actually conducted reasonable governance so long as nobody failed to pay the tribute, undergo the humiliations inflicted to show who was really in charge.  There was a census, postal service, help for the poor, for example.  No ongoing pogrom-type activities by the Mongols, I think.  Era:   When the doors of power were open again, the old ways were long gone and not revived.  The Tsars showed they learned their lessons well in controlling the people for the benefit of the Mongolsl: and began to impose controls, drastic tribute requirements, autocracy where there once was -- yes, there was -- deliberation, input, restraint.  The rural people? How about them?  Not sure.

3.  1480-1590 or so.  Rurikids still rule, but with increasing absolutism.  Serfs up for some freedom were put back down, is that so? Then came succession issues, called the Troubles,with the death of Ivan IV Grozny, Ivan Thunder, Ivan the Terrible says the West. Was he any worse than anyone else of the era West or East?  Probably not, given the militance of the Western church and Crusades, Inquisitions, etc., on top of kings' other wars. Another topic.

1590-1613:  The Troubles.  And ultimately election of the first Romanov Tsar,  Mikhail I.

4.  1613-1918  Romanovs rule. St. Petersburg is built out of a bog. And flourishes. What about the people? Gaps widen in distribution of wealth, interest in looking to the West for anything at all, and so on.  More absolutism.  Refusal of Tsars to consider what is happening elsewhere, and perhaps reining in their own power and allowing parliament-type assemblies at least.

Last Romanov killed, Tsar Nicholas II.

5.  1918-date. Enter Bolsheviks, Communists, push and pull, Church shunted and forbidden (but survived well in the required shadows), wars, forced collectivization keeping rural people well under heel, and unheeled.  And so on.