Highlighted research

The study Trauma in Historical Context compares Dutch and/or Anglo-Saxon developments with other societies recovering from large-scale violence inflicted by a foreign occupier, but also violence between different groups of citizens.

The following countries and regions seem to be especially relevant in this context:

  • the former Soviet Union
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • European countries such as Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Spain
Entrance of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland

Researchers: dr. Jolande Withuis (NIOD) and dr. Annet Mooij (Mooij Research)
Duration: 2006-2010 
Publication: The politics of war trauma. The aftermath of World War II in eleven European countries (Amsterdam; Aksant 2010).

More information

When we look at the discovery of war trauma as a historical-sociological phenomenon, not as a medical-psychological achievement, what stands out most is the success of trauma-thinking. This success demands an explanation and an international historical comparison.

We are interested in the social dynamics that apparently sometimes causes a political interpretation of the past violence to be replaced with a psychological paradigm (although this was not the case, for instance, with our neighbours to the south).

We are in search of:

  • the social functions of trauma, which are apparent in the United States with regard to the social problem of Vietnam veterans
  • the relationship between trauma and world view (e.g. their wartime past only started to bother some communists after the Fall of the Berlin Wall)

We are also interested in questions such as:

  • Does a trauma culture also occur in less individualised societies?
  • Are the PTSD-countries, as Ian Buruma suggests in his interesting article 'The Joys and Perils of Victimhood', ruled by a new religion of secular suffering?
  • Which historical circumstances are involved in the emergence of the self-identification as victims?

The project ‘Psychological consequences of war and welfare policy. A comparative European Research Project’ was subsidised by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.