interview with Armand Volkas by Lisa Gale Garrigues

Psychotherapist Armand Volkas, a child of Jewish Holocaust survivors and resistance fighters,  uses techniques of ritual and drama therapy in his workshops, Healing the Wounds of History, which bring together groups with a history of collective trauma between them.

Individual and Collective Trauma

Can you talk a little bit about how you work with collective trauma?

I look for where the personal experience and the collective experience come together, how people carry the collective trauma.  The symptom of a father’s alcoholism could really be the result of the Vietnam war, a story that he has experienced but also an experience that any men and women from the war had.  There is a way in which it is transmitted to the child through osmosis.  In a way it affects identity: the historical trauma lives in the crack of someones identity abut themselves and their feelingTraining02s of being an American. Where a person is a carrier of a larger story of the collective story.

Everybody is a carrier, but  some people are chosen by the parents to hold the burden or they choose themselves to be the carrier. My brother  is a Holocaust survivor himself, so there’s more direct trauma.  My younger sister inherited my father’s anxieties.  Somehow I was handed this or I took it on, because of my mothers non- stop sharing of the story. read more.