I am writing a book manuscript, Trauma Nation, which looks at how the United States is organized around the propagation of traumatic defenses. My work as a psychotherapist informs the project. I wonder what it would take to heal centuries of violence, oppression, complicated grief, and emotional neglect—much the way I am concerned for my clients. And yet this impulse to heal, social engineer, reform, etc., is symptomatic of what is often traumatizing about the US and the West in general–the continual need to address the impact of modernization and living in seemingly unnatural circumstances.
But what counts as natural? My personal gold standard has been our earliest ancestors. At times I look to the first hominids over five million years ago, when social emotions first developed. Other times I study the Upper Paleolithic some 40,000 years ago when protocultures began to flourish (and likely mirror neurons and
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