One of my clients, whom I will call Norma, is an indigenous young woman who is an undocumented immigrant from a Central American country. When the indigenous farm workers began to claim title to the land which they cultivated and where they lived, the government responded with genocide. Norma’s family members were rounded up and indiscriminately killed in front of her. She managed to flee to the mountains, and she was spared. As would be expected, Norma suffers from Posttraumatic Stress. She does not compare the disorder to a wound on which you could apply medicine so that it would eventually heal. Rather, she says trauma is more like a tattoo on the skin, always present, with the ongoing potential of tapping into depression, anxiety, fear and anger. With therapy and hard work, she succeeds in maintaining the stability to experience some happiness and success.
Vicarious trauma is a growing social phenomenon. Humans have a natural propensity for vicarious experience. We can watch sad or violent movies, share in the feelings and anxiety of the actors and actresses, and, most of the time, walk out of the theater relatively emotionally unscathed. But there is that occasional movie that "gets to us".
Certainly, children are more susceptible to vicarious experience than are adults. Parents are called on to support their children who are experiencing nightmares, or keeping the lights on at night, or asking to sleep with the parent, after having seen a "scary movie".
One danger of my profession as a trauma counselor (and as a former supervisor of trauma counselors) is "." Also referred to as "secondary traumatic stress", compassion fatigue refers to sharing the stress-related symptoms of our client-victims.. I am careful to maintain boundaries strong enough to assist in the healing of my clients (and to support my former supervisees in their struggles with transference.) But this does not keep me immune from occasional sleepless night..
We are increasingly becoming a "tattooed" society. I am not referring to the artwork with which some people decorate their bodies. I am referring to unrelenting, direct and dramatic traumatic social conditions and the universal sense of desperation and powerlessness associated with them
As glaciers melt and water levels rise, the specter of climate change creates a level of loss, depression, anger and anxiety that increasingly afflicts an overwhelmed society.
The rapacious and irresponsible misuse of the goods of the world leaves populations by the wayside who are left to contend with environmental degradation, hunger, polluted air, poisoned and water.
Areas of abundance on earth can provide a garden, salubrious food, sweet water, varied resources ... yet the swath of consumerism unfairly apportions its resources to those who wallow in its excess.
A survey of 2000 children between the ages of 8 to 16 in Great Britain found that 1 in 5 children suffer nightmares about climate change.
Risk-perception psychology illustrates that there are differences in the way we interpret and respond to risk. The reaction to the Coronavirus was characterized by social amplification, leading to immediate (though many point to unnecessary delays) and broad-based response to what was rightly perceived as an grave and immediate risk. However, when risk is perceived, although mistakenly, as less than immediate, preventative action is delayed. Social minimization of risk leads to procrastination and inactivity.
Soren Kierkegaard, in his essay The Present Age, refers to the seduction of “social leveling” and the power of social malaise to inhibit and suffocate the enthusiasm of the individual. The “bystander” phenomenon gets in the way of social action, be it providing immediate assistance to a person in need or working for the well-being of the planet. Whether this is a deliberate choice for noninvolvement or unconscious compliance resulting from social manipulation, fear, or ignorance, nonetheless we wait until the disaster is beyond remedy.
 pollster SavantaComRes and reported by the Contra Costa Times on 2/3/2020,