- On April 22, 2021
The traumatic past and Estonian social unconscious. Ants Parktal1
The author analyzes how past traumatic experiences, that happened during the last century in Estonia, influenced the beliefs, memories and social unconscious of Estonian people, and how those changes might have influenced the quality of human relations and life in present time. The historic background of the traumatic past, the consequences of trauma on peoples’ mind, trans-generational transmission of trauma, difficulties of communicating about the traumatic experiences and new social situation for recovering from trauma will be discussed. The author analyzes the clinical material from psychoanalytical work, in which the patients’ psychic problems related to past traumatic experiences, based on ideas of social unconscious. One short vignette and case of professional organization, relevant to his position will be presented.
Introduction and historic background.
During the last century Estonian people have endured difficult times, which are not mentioned intensively nowadays, but are still influencing today’s life by representations of experiences in collective memory.
Collective memory is defined by Hopper and Weinberg (2011, xxxviii) “…as the representations of the past that the members of a system collectively adopt (Kansteiner, 2002). These representations contribute to the formation of a coherent narrative of the history of the system2. Although they do not provide an accurate historical account of what happened in reality, they come to answer particular needs, crystallize the consciousness of the system, create the sense of continuity, and build a sense of solidarity.”
In3 clinical work, a psychoanalyst can detect and observe how the roots of psychic problems of many patients might also be related to past traumatic events “… when social order fails to provide a containing and holding environment, which leaves individuals and groups vulnerable to destructive and antisocial behaviours’. (Layton, Hollander, & Gutwill, 2006). Coherent narrative, accurate historical account, crystallised consciousness and a sense of continuity for building solidarity about the trauma of the destruction of the independent state and the atrocities of the Second World War, had not occurred, of the reason is a lack of the needed space for containing and holding environment, during and following the occupation and annexation. Accumulation of traumatic memories continues even after 50 years. Klimova (2011, 196) has described a patient characteristics of this traumatization as: “Her true self stayed underdeveloped, unrecognized, unnamed. Thus, the patient’s false self was created in the process of identification with aggressor.” Later, in analysing the state of mind of one professional organization, we can see that this kind change of persons minds prevents “…unconscious instinctive understanding of each other,” (Nitzgen & Hopper, 2017, 11) in groups.
Traumatic events in Estonia began after August, the 23rd, 1939 when Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact in Moscow. Soon Poland was divided, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania lost its independence, becoming Soviet, and the Soviet Union began war with Finland. After the occupation of the Estonian Republic on June 17th, 1940 by the Soviet Army, and the annexation of August 6th 1940, arrest of people not loyal to the newly established Soviet Estonia began. And finally on June 14th, 1941, the most influential people of the Estonian Republic (over 10000 persons) including the President of Estonia, commander of Estonian Army and members of parliament with their families were deported to Siberia. When the Second World War began, special destruction battalions of the Soviet Army (hävituspataljon)4, voluntary self-defence units (omakaitse)5, the Soviet and German Armies brought about massive destruction of buildings, bridges, factories, farms, homes and death or harm to people. German occupation established concentration camps on Estonian soil and many Estonian people, who were loyal to Soviet Union, together with Jews and Gypsies, were brought there from other countries, and murdered. After the Soviet Army occupied Estonia again, the Soviet Secret Service (NKVD, Narodnõi Commissariat Vnutrennõh Del) oppressed people who were in the German Army, self-defence units, religious people, and those who belonged to the so called Forest brothers (metsavennad)6 and their relatives, who were defined as enemies of the Soviet Union, that had tragic and traumatic impact to the victims and their relatives.
In March 25th, 1949 the next wave of deportation began which included mainly people from countryside who were exiled to Siberia (over 20000 persons), to break down resistance of the Forest brothers and to push people to abandon their individual peasant life and force them to join a kolkhoz as a collective farm. After the war, a new social life began under the Soviet totalitarian regime for Estonian people, which were dominated by the last decade of the great Stalin terror (Conquest, 1990).
2. Consequences of past traumas on peoples mind.
From frustration to trauma. Death of a close one might be a trauma for mature person, but as being part of life cycle, it is trauma from which a person usually recovers without long-lasting consequences. . However, if people cannot mourn their deaths, post-trauma might develop.
Traumatisation can follow extreme events (such as personal experience of actual or threatened death or serious injury, DSM IV, (1995) and can evoke Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In case of prolonged domestic, sexual or political victimization, when the victim is in state of captivity, unable to flee and under the control of the perpetrator (prisons, concentration camps and slave labour camps for example), extreme traumatisation with long term consequences can take place. This was indeed the situation for Estonian people. A clinical example follows:
Disturbed memory. Vignette from a male patient named Toomas shows how repressed feelings evoked indirectly by events observed in a documentary. Toomas, married, 60 years old, began twice a week psychoanalytic psychotherapy two years ago because of intense anxiety due to his adult children leaving home.
Lately he described his memories from 1994, when he, being at that time abroad, watched together with friends a video by Milosz Forman based on the book by Milan Kundera “The unbearable lightness of the being“.7 When the piece of documentary picture about the invasion of the Soviet tanks on the streets of Prague appeared, Toomas had such an intense emotional reaction of fear, helplessness and horror, which he felt frozen and overwhelmed by such total power.
I interpret Toomas experiences as an example of discovering past traumatic memories of his parents provoked by material in movie. Parent memories have derived from social unconscious, from “…the common shared ground which ultimately determines the meaning and significance…” (Nitzgen & Hopper, 2017, 11) of painful loss of Estonian Republic as a state and loss of individual freedom for parents as individuals. However, this impact is not unique in Estonia and is not limited to Toomas’ family. In spite of external freedom and stable social structure around, collective memory of Estonians about collapse of the Estonian Republic, not remembered by Toomas but talked about in closed family circles all over Estonia as an emotional experience, evoked in Toomas anxiety close to the danger of death. As a result, Toomas’ relationship with external world collapsed and there no potential space was left between internal and the external world to see the event in documentary in another perspective.
Why did such an unexpected overreaction to events that happened a long time ago and not directly touching Toomas happen? We can see here the long-term consequences of extreme traumatisation. Experiencing the collapse of the state and culture certainly evoked intense feelings in Toomas’ parents and other Estonian citizens, which were not worked individually through, which became a common wound with other Estonians, and were transferred by trans-generational transmission into the internal word of Toomas. Weinberg has mentioned (2016, 309) “The idea of the social unconscious assumes that some specific hidden myths and motives guide the behaviour certain society or culture. It also assumes that a large group or society might use some shared defences. In the same manner that unconscious forces drive an individual without knowing it, a group, an organization or entire society can act upon unconscious forces too.”
From the point of primary identification processes, traumatic feelings and individual memories about an event are often dissociated. Bohleber (2007) elaborates Freud’s thoughts about trauma theory, “…that what appears to be reality is in fact “a reflection of a forgotten past” (1920)”. Forgotten and repressed material is frequently repeated as an act in the form of repetition compulsion in the transference arena in psychotherapy as well as in relationships in general. The forgotten past material “…forces the past psychic occurrence into the present structure of events and thereby transforms its meaning. The past experience is actively incorporated into the current life experience.” (Bohleber, 2007). Man-made traumas like holocaust, Golodomor8, war, deportation of nations – these are such traumatic experiences which are beyond the individual’s capacities to integrate. In soviet society no one cared about the individual capacities of integration traumatic feelings. New life could have begun for Estonians in totalitarian state when remembering traumatic past and responding to it, but this act was defined by colonial power as revolt and mutiny against the soviet state. Occupation, annexation, deportation, imprisonment and murders were legitimate actions against enemies of Soviet state. In such circumstances, reconstruction process of experiences were distracted. In the earlier mentioned vignette we can witness how past trauma acting as a frozen time bomb was preserved in the social unconscious of previous generations to explode and intrude into a person’s mind who had not experienced those traumatic events himself.
Trans-generational transmission of trauma. Psychoanalytic object relation theory explains the creation and maintenance of the trans-generational transmission of trauma in the following way: When a traumatized generation has not digested traumatic experiences, then the wound would be deposited into the social unconscious as collective memory and would be trans-generationally delivered over to the next generations in the form of traumatic object relations. Those relations are be recreated and re-enacted in the next generations as a repetition, because an emphatic communication process in the relationships with traumatized generation was distracted. Extreme trauma causes destruction of the communicative dyad in the internal psychic world of traumatized generations. Relations between the internal self as object and good internal object are distracted and communication breakdown will leads into “…absolute internal isolation and the most intense desolation. The internal good object falls silent as an emphatic mediator between self and environment…” (Bohleber, 2007). Emphatic understanding between individuals from different generations is not possible because good internal object is lost.
When relation with good internal object is lost or destroyed, then the ability for symbolization and creating narratives about trauma is lost too, and finally traumatic experience is almost incommunicable. A persecuting object, totalitarian object by Šebek, (1996) as counterweight for a good internal object takes place instead of old good internal object and occupies totally a person’s internal world. This process occurs in many people from the same traumatic social background. Although Estonia as state has been independent already many years, the totalitarian Soviet state and occupation still exists through internal representations of bad objects in many people’s social unconscious. Changes in previously mentioned internal processes and gradual return of good internal object can occur when peoples are able to discussed their emotionally charged “…events that represent significant long-term changes to people’s lives.” and freedom of thought in society. Based on the containing capabilities and holding environment created by society, object relationships will form and maintain collective memory and find consensus of narratives (Pennebaker & Banasik, 1997) about emotional events. By the same process people will have also the chance for internal change into world of object relations and to cure from trauma.
3. Trauma and disturbed communication.
The new social situation accompanying past trauma. At the times of the Second World War Estonia was occupied by different countries and lost approximately one six of its population (Lucas, 2008). Usually, nothing was told to children about the war and the victims of the war in families. Instead, those memories were shared in close circle of war veterans only. Bergquist and Weiss who interviewed people in Estonia and Hungary after liberation 1994) have written: “In many cases, the older men and women in both Estonia and Hungary had remained mute about these experiences in order not to burden their children and grandchildren in the youthful protests or arbitrary confinements.” “Healing the collective psyche requires people to mourn their history to find the forgiveness and love that follow.” (Bergquist & Weiss, 1994).
After the war there was a need for the mourning of losses in Estonia, but mourning was not possible on a social level because of the totalitarian Soviet regime.
“…”mass techniques” employed by “totalitarian states”…” were used and “…“nightmare conditions”…” were created for changing and tuning minds of Estonian people for harmonizing with new communistic ideology. (Nitzgen & Hopper, 2017, 18) Silence governed the public discourse, affecting the collective memory with its characteristics9. “A silent event is one where people actively avoid talking about major shared upheaval. This failure to talk can be imposed by a repressive government following a coup or other authoritarian institution as a religion.” (Pennebaker & Banasik, 1997). People need the healing of trauma through commemoration rituals, and this was missing because of it was not acceptable for Estonian people in Soviet time and all the pain of trauma was left as painful as it was in the souls of people. Mourning was possible only in the close family circle in restricted ways. The loss of Estonia as a state and a culture was saved mainly in personal memories and only shared among families and relatives whom you trusted. The Soviet state began to create a new collective memory, picturing lost Estonia in novels, plays and movies in disregarding and hostile tones. This created at the beginning of occupation a silent mental resistance. Weinberg (Hopper & Weinberg, 2011, xxxviii) “…emphasizes that whereas the members of a particular societal social system are likely to be conscious or pre-conscious of their myths and collective memories, they are likely to be unconscious of the defensive functions of these myths and collective memories, especially those concerning shared anxieties associated with social powerlessness and social identity.” In the Estonian Radio in the nineteen sixties they broadcasted every Sunday morning a program titled “Meelejahutaja” (Cooler of the mind) where joking was the main topic. Many jokes were about soviet social systems absurdity and ridiculousness. It was fun to listen and to laugh. When you listen to this broadcast nowadays another picture opens. The more objective listener senses no funny people laughing any more, but feelings of humiliations, disgust and distain. Unconscious defensive around those jokes hid oppression and pain behind the smile.
Instead of promoting mourning in the Soviet Union, a prolonged victimization of Estonians took place. Herman (1992) describes methods of political exploitation in the following way. “The methods of establishing control over another person are based upon the systematic, repetitive infliction of psychological trauma. These methods are designed to instil terror and helplessness, to destroy the victim’s sense of self in relation to others, and to foster a pathologic attachment to the perpetrator.” Those methods were used immediately after the war in Estonia (deportations, arrest, torturing and executions) and in subtle psychological ways later. One of the subtle ways was an attempt to organize a new collective memory by reconstructing new history about Estonian past in order to legitimize the occupation and annexation of the Estonian Republic as it happened in Portugal with memories and histories of the Spanish Civil War described by Íñigues, Valencia, & Vázques, (1997).
The silent internal world of traumatized people. Freedom for mourning was lost not only on a social level but also on a personal level: close people did not want to talk about the painful past because they had lost trust in people. The loss of close and intimate relationships deprived people from the pleasures of life. Silence began and continued its presence for the next generations of Estonian people creating a fantasy world in their myths and collective memory about past and present. Instead of helping to distinguish fantasy from reality and re-establish psychological contact with oneself and others, the Soviet state created a new unreal narrative of heroic Great Fatherland War (Velikaja Otetsestvennaja Voina in Russian) for the victims of war.
The Soviet narrative offered solace and a coping mechanism for handling painful memories, confirming to the victims that their suffering was serving collective interests and achievements (Figes, 2010). Historian Catherine Merridal observed, interviewing war veterans of Kursk battle, “…that they did not speak about past experiences with bitterness and self-sorrow, but they accepted stoically all the losses and “in spite of living through the most darkest scenes, they tend to use language of former Soviet state, talking about honour and pride, rightful revenge, homeland, Stalin, absolute need for belief.”. By creating and confirming massive illusion about honourable, mourning process for victims of war, mourning was disturbed and sometimes even stopped. Lack of social and religious support made the return of traumatized veterans into everyday life complicated and sometimes not possible at all.
4. The group case of an organization through eyes of one individual member.
In the nineties of last century this country restored its independent existence as a post-soviet state. After the liberation many psychotherapeutic organizations began to develop, one of them was psychotherapeutic group of humanistic psychotherapy (GHP). After appropriate training in home country and abroad, an organization was established and joined with European institutions. GHP began to organize trainings, seminars and supervision groups.
The group case through eyes of the one group member X, is presenting his subjective observations in form of reverie. By Wilke (2018, 66) „…group members lend a voice to the encapsulated social trauma…“, from social unconscious, carry with unbearable psychic and social material from previous generations. For readers there is a challenge to separate personal from social.
Based on observations, group member X. characterized, official communication in GSP as unbalanced, fluctuating between distant and formal, and when emotions in group has been aroused, overwhelmingly friendly. In both ways mutuality and concordance was missing and dialogue was based more on internal phantasies as recognized reality.
We can suppose that traumatized by war and totalitarian society, group members were “…likely to be engaged self-protectively in process of mutual merger.” (Hopper, Weinberg, 2011, xIiv). The social unconscious of the group members includes all the traumatic memories of the past and prevents creation potential space for correspondent discussions, for creative thinking and development of subjectivity. “…members of social groups could be said to unconsciously re-live and re-enact in the present emotions related to past events of their society.” (Weinberg, 2007, 308). GST stays in frozen state of group mind, and because of past traumatic memories, the capability to analyze problems in group from the point of view of the social unconscious, was impossible. Because that in this particular professional society no reciprocity, no dialogue, no instinctive understanding and no common ground for birth of real meanings occurred. Instead of reciprocity, there were fantasies, instead of dialogue there was monologue, instinctive understanding was connected with personal early phantasies and common ground exist in fictional meetings. As result, some of the members were driving without knowing why and where, some of the members were acting out, and some of the members went their own individual ways.
To summarize: group was not capable of working intuitively around problems of social unconscious, because of lack of psychological contact between members. At the same time paradoxically, another type of common unconscious communication, based on absence of contact. Conversation was based on hidden instinctive understanding: – painful collective memories from past were alive, preventing liveness of communication. By the same reason working through traumas using “free flouting discussion” or “free group associations” (Nitzgen, Hopper, 2017, 7) was impossible. The situation in GHP can be compared with working with psychotic patient in psychoanalysis, were analyst and analysand both, are sticking into concreteness of material and empty silence.
We can think about situation in GHB also from point the group matrix, which has been seen as a social network whose participants are in communication with one another. (Nitzgen, Hopper, 2017, 9) This “…hypothetical web of communication and relationship in a group…” relies on common shared ground. This common ground will form meaning and significance for events in group existence. Based on those meanings and relevancies nonverbal and verbal interactions take place.
If to think about GHP as systematic organism “…as responsive to and in interaction with the environment,” (Nitzgen, Hopper, 2017, 9) then, because of destroyed national identity and resistance to take in socialist ideas during soviet regime, work together as community was unacceptable. Idea of creating collectively together as individuals, to whom matrix “…the common shared ground which ultimately determines the meaning and significance of all events and upon which all communications and interpretations, verbal and non-verbal, rest,” (Nitzgen, Hopper, 2017, 9) was inadmissible. Trans-generational transmission trauma of parents and grandparent together with personal experiences during soviet regime created situation for members of group, in where individuality was not possible to be ““suspended” in the group matrix (Foulkes, 1984, p. 118) like the neuron in anatomy and physiology: “the neuron being the nodal point in the total network of the nervous system which always reacts and responds as a whole”.” Interruption of individuality might threaten person and lead into lost common ground of national values as culture and language, and immediately into forbidden topic of lost independency and freedom. As most of members were still traumatized, group matrix as “unified mental field,” has not born yet.
Nitzgen and Hopper (2017, 10) are mentioned that based on idea of matrix, that group is as living organism, in which interaction takes place on level of group mental processes, not between individuals, and here opens possibility for impregnation of synergy. Based on Foulkes idea about need for distinction “…matrix of interpersonal relationships…” from “… the matrix as a “transpersonal network,”” we can say, that by destruction of the matrix interpersonal relationships, was destroyed at the same time also chance for creation matrix of transpersonal network. This chance for GHP was lost because of trauma was still present and actively confusing minds of most of members of the group. We can here to discover that: for recovery of the society from influences of past cumulative traumas, it is not enough return to a healthy condition only individuals of the society. Complete recovery stands in healing wounds from traumas in group unconscious too.
Power structure of the group and leadership in the group was observed by X. as following. Klimova (2011, 198) wrote about phenomenon of false collective under totalitarian state. “The independent development of individuals or groups was neither possible nor desirable. Both individual and group identities were kept underdeveloped and lacking in true selfhood. The “we” of group members was the false we, or the false collective self, without any awareness, without any consciousness.” At first about change of the meaning of the word “collective” during totalitarian soviet state. In Estonian for example “collective” had neutral meaning before World War II, as “collection, gathering or compilation, or sized or common, public, collective, joint, conjoint, united, mutual…” During soviet regime meaning of collective acquired its negative connotation. People were connected with collective forcefully and fake connectedness of people in collective, without any freedom of choice, was created by soviet system in people’s minds.
GHP as collective gathered by free will and every person had free to choose its membership. In spite of that, collective as conjoint people for fulfilling mutual interest, does not appeared by observations of X.
X. described, that leadership in GHP, was characterized by absence and silence, vitalizing only in moments, when stability was in danger of change. Here we can see echo from trauma as Klimova (2011, 198) said. “While the individual group members were supposed not to differ, but to enjoy their sameness, the real differentiations was reserved for (being professionally qualified (AP)) determined individuals, and class hatred was a legitimate, desirable voice for organizing the society.” Unresponsive leadership has created abnormal equality between members. Wilke (2018, 64) has written: “Important interactions and joint explorations between the infantilized trainee and the overpowering training analyst seem to have re-created the lack of basic trust between parent and child in post-war homes.” Here are recreated lack of basic trust in group member’ childhood families, in where children had to take care of parents’ emotional health and had to grow up early. As result precocious child, taking responsibility, which he has not able to bear, will lost secure feeling of the basic trust. Fertile soil for blossom inequality and repetition of soviet regime in micro level in GHP, by distribution group for “chosen” and ordinary members, was in minds of group members and group social unconscious.
Wilke (2018, 64) has written how “…post-war children repeatedly dramatize their need of the group as a dependable environmental mother. Consequently, the group, as an object, is viewed as a perfect mother or a persecuting witch. The fear in relating to the group and the analyst is the working through of the oedipal position where group and conductor can be triangulated with each member in the role of an accepted and independent child.” This dependency pulls members towards a dyadic relationship and away from adult capabilities for handling ambivalence.
Klimova (2011, 204)) has wrote about “The perverse tendency of the totalitarian system to intrude into human intimacy and spirituality […] to possess human souls, to become the only model for identification, the only source of subjectivity.” By understanding of Klimova this way of intrusion leads people into situation where “…their subjectivity was shared and transformed in a way which reminded them of primary times of the child-mother dyad.” Members of the GHP group was also functioning on that particular level: “…loss of mature facilities of decision making, of independent thinking, of free choice; the decline of adult differentiation, the dissolution of group boundaries, and the identification with powerful authorities. Rationality, clear, conscious mind, freedom of choice, activities of the work group, all were suppressed. The Big Mother took their place.”
Cohesion in group dynamics will discussed based on Hopper’s (1997, 440) idea to examine unconscious life of groups about problem of integration in terms of fourth basic assumption. Hopper (1997, 441) characterizes state of cohesion in groups following way: “…cohesion refers to a bonding together of particles of the same substance or of different substances in such a way that the particles do not lose their individual identity, and, therefore, when they are unbound do not suffer damage to their individual boundaries, as in the formation and dissolution of a droplet of liquid on the surface of another matter.”
In this particular group parents and grandparents of the group members had traumatic memory of destructions social cohesiveness, when their homeland was occupied and state annihilated. The idea of national cohesion were recognized as hostile for soviet ideology and so for testified as unusable for new soviet life. State of disintegration of people’s minds was passed over by trans-generational transmission in different quantities and qualities to members of particular group.
Because lack of cohesion disintegration in form of “adhesive“ bonding characterizes the group. Hopper (1997, 441) describes: “…”adhesion” refers to a bonding together of particles in such a way that they lose their individual identities, and, therefore, when unbound are severely damaged, as in the adhesion and tearing parts of the membranes of two or more organs of the body.” In that way member of the group will be bound with the group as “…mother and child are like a pair of Siamese twins…” in pathologically symbiotic situation, in adhesive identification. (Tustin, 1992, 14). In this kind of encapsulation autistic “…children do not distinguish between live people and inanimate objects; they treat them both in the same way…” “This is adhesive equation rather than adhesive identification.” (Tustin, 1992, 17)
This adhesive equation in relationships in group, together with total emotional separateness of some members, who maintained their individuality, was one of features for most of members. X. observed, how this organization, because of its autistic quality, lost productivity and pleasure for participation in group. The group members did needed things, without enjoying it and rarely was arising some spontaneous initiative. “Groups who are not authentically cohesive may be able to maintain the total allegiance of their members, while at the same time be unable to work effectively and to meet challenges posed by their environment.” (Hopper, 1997, 442)
Here we can observe repetition of functioning group on times of occupation and annexation, when challenges in the life were planned by communist party and authenticity left between home walls. Here we can also point out one of the characteristics ambivalence of totalitarian life, hard to understand people in West-Europe: pretended loyalty and hidden authenticity together with concealed subjectivity. This double life creates strange way of communication, to say and not to say something important at the same time. If listener takes what is said he got deceived. At the same time this ambivalence was accompanied by feelings fear, disgust and distain as much as against the offender as about himself. This kind violence on peoples mind is not harmless, and might lead from colonizing minds into self-colonization in form of annihilation of the national identity and turning into aggressor himself. Hopper (1997, 448) has written “The primary fear of annihilation is a response to the experience of profound helplessness arising from traumatic loss, abandonment and damage.”
By Hopper (1997, 451) when traumatized people “…have experienced fear of annihilation…” it leads group in processes of incohesion, which “…is characterized by aggregation in response on fission and fragmentation and then by massification in response to fusion and confusion, and, in turn, by oscillations between massification and aggregation.” Supported by Klimová’s (2011, 188) idea, that those ways of communication “…are both marks of totalitarian tendencies.” We can understand massification as process in where real values, will be turned for mass products available for everyone (diamonds for zircon). Aggregation can be for example gathering together individuals into faceless bundle. In GHB aggregation were observed by X. mainly in isolation of members from each other and from organization or being member without individuality, and massification in imitation and simulation around mental issues. (Hopper, 1997, 454)
Due aggregation and massification real communication between members was lost and turned into irregular, discontinuous, distracted. Information about processes, decisions, plans was not available or was uncommunicable. In result in GHB responsibility was avoided, aggression was expressed with profound silence.
X. described situation in where some members, who had different understanding about realities of group, wrote public letter for members. They were attacked and made enemies of ideal group, and some of colleagues recommended them to leave the group. Wilke (2018, 67) mentioned: “Actually and metaphorically, this is how history is brought to life during a therapeutic process by one or several of the group members, who respond to an unconscious need to embody the role of perpetrator, victim or bystander.”
Processes of massification were more common for GHP as aggregation. By Hopper (1997, 465) processes of massification are more troublesome because “They mask feelings of rage and destructiveness, and pseudo-morale is deceptive and perverse. “ “Incoherence prevents the development and maintenance of the work group.” (Hopper, 1997, 456) As mentioned earlier “… to use interpretation of underlying anxieties and defenses in order to facilitate the development of the work group.” (Hopper, 1997, 457) was not possible. I suppose that traumatic experiences of persons accumulated in experiences of social unconscious life of the group were be the main obstacles for being group with open, mutual and creative communication. This will happen only then, when society of that particular country will be get over traumatic past memories, still alive in social unconscious.
5. Concluding points.
Through thoughts and free associations derived from clinical work as psychoanalyst, the author finds that traumatic events in the near history in Estonia have caused different disturbing consequences for many people and mourning of loss, environment needed for recovery from trauma was disturbed, because of totalitarian social system established before and builds up after war in Estonia. Experiences from traumatic past were moulding social unconscious of Estonians and passed over from one generation to another and are influencing life quality of many people born and living already in the Republic of Estonia. One might suppose that, because of unresolved trauma in social unconscious, there are many people in Estonia, who are still suffering from causalities of traumas, and have been lost their chances to enjoy everyday life in mentally, economically and politically prosperous Estonian Republic. Weinberg has mentioned (Hopper & Weinberg, 2011, xxxviii) influence of defensive functions myths and collective memories especially “…shared anxieties associated with social powerlessness and social identity.” At the same time prosperous state culture does not want to see past traumas anymore, because cultures seek “…to make themselves look good, honest and honourable.” (Pennebaker & Banasik 1997). When fictitious life, fulfilled with illusions and delusions, will ignore traumatic memories in social unconscious, taking over realities of life, then truth, subjectivity and mutuality in human relations will be gradually replaced by lies, lost independent thinking and fake closeness in relationships.
Further research is needed to clarify influence of extreme traumatic experiences in totalitarian state from point of social unconscious and experiences of everyday life in totalitarian society especially between different generations. A clearer understanding likely will support the importance of attention to issues of trauma and wider use of individual and group psychoanalysis for people who need to recover from symptoms connected with past traumas in the present moment.
1 Psychoanalyst in private practice, Tallinn, Estonia. Member IPA, since 2007
2 In context of this article, system had mainly national character, because at that time main population of Estonia were Estonians.
4 Destruction battalions were special units of the Soviet Army created for destruction all the material and human resources (prisoners for example), before the Soviet Army left and the German army took over.
5 Voluntary self-defense units were organized during the occupation of Estonia by the Soviet Army and after its retreat for protection material recourses and people and mainly for restoring the Estonian Republic after the years of occupation.
6 The Forest brothers were Estonian partisans, people with different aims, who hid themselves in woods for many reasons, mainly hiding from the Soviet terror or fighting actively against the Soviet order.
7 This book and the movie are both about people, who went through hopeful spring on year 1968 in Prague.
8 Golodomor is famine or/and starvation during 1932 and 1933, (and also earlier and later) which was created intentionally by totalitarian Stalin regime in which millions (1921-1923, 3 million, 1932-1033 7 until 10 million and 1946-1947 less then million) Ukrainian people died. (et.Wikipedia.org/).
9 „…increasing rate of thinking and dreaming about events. …changes in crime, suicide, physical health, and even prosocial behaviors can be expected to change. “(Pennebaker & Banasik, 1997)
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