Cultural Trauma and Recovery

Part of the International and Cultural Psychology book series (ICUP)


This psycho-existential framework considers the relationships among cultural factors, the terror inherent in the human condition, and self-esteem. If culture serves as a psychological defense against the terror inherent in the human condition, then the effects of a traumatic disruption of a cultural anxiety buffer would open the individual or community with unmediated “existential terror and anxiety.” Anxiety is part of the human condition and responses to this aversive state vary from the courageous to the destructive. The cultural anxiety buffer requires that the individual or community have faith in the cultural or religious worldview and to see himself or herself as meeting its standards. So by maintaining faith in the cultural worldview and living up to its standards the individual is able to avoid the confrontation with the anxiety and “terror” inherent in the human condition that results from our awareness of our inability to live and continue existence. What happens when the cultural worldview is shattered or weakened? What happens when the individual maintains faith in the cultural worldview but is blocked from achieving its standards by racism, sexism or colonization?


Cultural trauma Cultural recovery Motivation Grieving Colonization 


  1. Austin, A., & Marsella, A. J. (2005). Understanding substance use and violent behavior in a Native Hawaiian community. In A. J. Marsella, A. Austin, & B. Grant (Eds.), Social change and psychosocial adaptation in the Pacific Islands: Cultures in transition. New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar
  2. Becker, E. (1971). The birth and death of meaning: An interdisciplinary perspective on the problem of man (2nd ed.). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  3. Brave Heart, M. Y. H., & DeBruyn, L. M. (1998). The American Indian holocaust: Healing historical unresolved grief. American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research: The Journal of the National Center, 8(2), 56–78.Google Scholar
  4. Bushnell, A. O. (1993). The gifts of civilization: Germs and genocide in Hawai‘i. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.Google Scholar
  5. Butlin, A. (1983). Our original aggression. Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  6. Christie, M. (1988). The invasion of Aboriginal education. In B. Harvey & S. McGinty (Eds.), Learning my way: Papers from the national conference on adult Aboriginal learning. Perth, Australia: Australian Government Publishing.Google Scholar
  7. Davis, G. (1968). A shoal of time: History of the Hawaiian islands. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.Google Scholar
  8. Department of Education. (1993). Hawai‘i youth risk behavior survey report. Honolulu, HI: Department of Educational, Office of Instructional Services/General Education Branch.Google Scholar
  9. Duran, E. (2006). Healing the soul wound: Counseling with American Indians and other native people. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  10. Fanon, F. (1968). The wretched of the earth. New York, NY: Grove Press.Google Scholar
  11. Farnsworth, C.M. (1997, June 8). Australians resist facing up to legacy of parting aborigines from families. New York Times, p. 10.Google Scholar
  12. Harris, J. (1990). One blood: 200 years of aboriginal encounter with Christianity; a story of hope. Sutherland, Australia: Albatross Books.Google Scholar
  13. Honore, M. (2017, June 18). Securing a legacy. Honolulu Star Advertiser Commemorative Edition, p. 2, 3.Google Scholar
  14. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. (1997). Bringing them home report of the national inquiry into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.Google Scholar
  15. Indian Health Service. (1995). Trends in Indian health. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of health and Human Services.Google Scholar
  16. Kanahele, G. S. (1982). Hawaiian renaissance. Honolulu, HI: Project WAIAHA.Google Scholar
  17. Koolmartie, J., & Williams, R. (2000). Unresolved grief and the removal of Indigenous Australian children. Australian Psychologist, 35, 158–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Manson, S., Beals, J., O’Neill, T., Piasek, J., Bechtold, D., Keane, E., et al. (1996). Wounded spirits, ailing hearts: PTSD and related disorders among American Indians. In A. J. Marsella (Ed.), Ethnocultural aspects of posttraumatic stress disorder: Issues, research, and clinical application (pp. 251–282). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  19. Markey, G. (1998). The health status of women in the Northern Territory. Darwin: Territory Health Services Women’s Health Strategy Unit.Google Scholar
  20. McNabb, S. (1991). Elders, Inupiat Ilitqusiat, and culture goals in northwest Alaska. Arctic Anthropology, 8(2), 63–76.Google Scholar
  21. Memmi, A. (1965). The colonizer and the colonized. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  22. Minto Village Council. (1991). Hitting sticks healing hearts. Manley Hot Springs, Alaska: River Tracks Productions.Google Scholar
  23. Moorehead, A. (1966). The fatal impact: An account of the invasion of the South Pacific (pp. 1767–1840). New York, NY: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  24. Napoleon, H. (1996). Yuuyaraq: The way of the human being. Native Knowledge Network: Fairbanks, Alaska.Google Scholar
  25. Ober, C., Peeters, L., Archer, R., & Kelly, K. (2000). Debriefing in different cultural frameworks: Responding to acute trauma in Australian Aboriginal contexts. In B. Raphael & J. P. Wilson (Eds.), Psychological debriefing: Theory, practice and evidence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Reser, J. P. (2000). Indigenous suicide in cross-cultural context: An overview statement and selective bibliography of sours relevant to Indigenous suicide in Australia, North America and the Pacific. South Pacific Journal of Psychology, 11(2), 95–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Salzman, M. (2001). Cultural trauma and recovery: Perspectives from terror management theory. Trauma, Violence & Abuse: A Review Journal, 2(2), 172–191. Scholar
  28. Salzman, M. (2005). The dynamics of cultural trauma: Implications for the pacific nations. In A. J. Marsella, A. Austin, & B. Grant (Eds.), Social change and psychosocial adaptation in the Pacific Islands: Cultures in transition (pp. 29–52). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Salzman, M. B., & Halloran, M. J. (2004). Cultural trauma and recovery: Cultural meaning, self-esteem, and the re-construction of the cultural anxiety-buffer. In J. Greenberg, S. L. Koole, & T. Pyszczynski (Eds.), Handbook of experimental existential psychology (pp. 231–246). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  30. Solomon, S., Greenberg, J., & Pyszcyznski, T. (1991). A terror management theory of social behavior: The psychological functions of self-esteem and cultural worldviews. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 91–159). San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  31. Stannard, D. E. (1989). Before the horror. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Social Science Research Institute.Google Scholar
  32. Stanner, W. E. H. (1979). White man got no dreaming. Canberra, Australia: Australian National University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Val, B. V. (1994). The passage out. In K. R. Howe, R. C. Kiste, & B. V. Val (Eds.), The tides of history: The Pacific islands in the twentieth century (pp. 435–461). Honolulu, HI: University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Wessels, M. G., & Bretherton, D. (2000). Psychological reconciliation: National and international perspectives. Australian Psychologist, 35, 109–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zunin, I. (2014, June 14). Cultural reawakening brings Marquesas back from the brink. Honolulu Star Advertiser, p. B6.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational PsychologyUniversity of Hawai‘i at ManoaHonoluluUSA

Personalised recommendations