Masters Thesis

Resilience and shadow of collective trauma: The mennonites' great traumatic trek to Canada

Mennonites living in Russia at the start of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 entered into a climate of almost relentless violence. Mennonites are a Protestant group that formed during the 16th century Reformation. Long-term psychological implications of these events continue for remaining survivors and their offspring to this day. In this study, four memoirs of Mennonite survivors were analyzed to learn how traumatic experiences were narrated in their lifetime. A literature review explored features associated with individual and collective experiences of trauma. Placing each writer into their shared historical context was presented to understand both collective and unique features of their experiences. Common themes that emerged in the memoirs demonstrated both resilience and challenges in expressing emotions, facing physical challenges, processing transitions, and coping. Lastly, differing experiences with attachment were discovered for each writer and inferences were drawn to the intergenerational transmission of trauma. The findings of this study can speak to how social workers may contextualize trauma with biopsychosocial intakes that are broad in scope. Therapeutic interventions were presented that take collective features of trauma into consideration instead of solely individualizing trauma outcomes. Macro-level social work practice with geriatric populations, organizational transformation, and policy change were recommended.

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