Zsuzsanna Kerekes, József Varga, János Kállai: Institutional elaboration of traumatic events – the chances for development

An unprecedented aggression was committed at the Medical School of the Pécs University, Hungary on 26th November 2009. A pharmacist student killed one of his group mates with his gun and severely injured others. Our study analyses the experiences and elaboration of this traumatic event in the institution and community. The immediate crisis intervention of the affected individuals and groups was completed by trained professionals. The elaboration of a trauma involves several phases. In this case, the denial persisted for a long time and this period could be characterized as seeking for emotional safety. The institution may contribute to establishing the safe environment with congruent communication between teachers, students and leaders, with the presentation of accepted values and behavioral norms, furthermore providing several opportunities to express empathy and deal with emotions. The next step is the restoration of trust and stabilization of self-esteem, finally, the rearrangement of interpersonal relationships. Active interactions within the community may enhance the trust and confidence. Reconstruction and integration of the traumatic event is the final and closing phase of this process. The trauma sensitized both the individuals and the institution. The problems in the institutional mechanisms could be characterized as misperception, unreal sense of threat, biases in the appraisal of situations and unconscious worrying about losing control over the events. Overcoming a temporary disturbance of conduct, the institution recognized the need for development, and identified its aims.

Keywords: trauma – community – institution – aggression

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