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Collective trauma is the psychological term for when a group of people experience a shock together. War is the best example of collective trauma, because everyone is affected. Collective trauma can also come from natural disasters.
By focusing on “the veterinarian,” we are reminded that at times people don’t get a choice. They are psychologically trapped in war while physically torn from their ordinary lives.
He became simultaneously the stabber and the stabbed.
This is an example of empathy at the extreme, as it is experienced in collective trauma. The veterinarian demonstrates collective trauma because, though himself a mere witness and by-stander, he nonetheless experiences the suffering of both the executing soldier and the executed criminal. Thus one person manifests three aspects of the executions: his own, the executioner's, and the executed's.
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