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Societies, having not overcome their traumas, pass them on to future generations: policy, history, arts and medical experts say
Having gathered in Vilnius on 5–6 March, experts in various fields appealed to the international community and urged it to provide traumatised societies with means to heal their wounds.
Consequences of historical trauma experienced by individuals and societies: mental health problems, loss of identity, fear, alcohol addiction, and suicide, violence in families and communities, and social isolation were discussed at the Conference “Dealing with the Trauma of an Undigested Past” held in the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. Much attention was paid to the impact of trauma on international relations and means of dealing with it.
The Declaration adopted by Conference participants emphasises that historical traumas influence how societies view themselves and what their domestic and international policies are. The recognition of traumas, acknowledgement of their impact and work on dealing with them leads societies towards recovery and reconciliation.
The Declaration encourages governments and international organisations to fully research and publicly recognise what happened exactly, who was involved and in what way; to assure that justice is done as restoration of justice facilitates post-trauma healing and those affected can be refilled with a sense of well-being; to promote artistic reflection of traumatic experiences as an effective tool of expressing and symbolising pain and facilitating truth seeking and healing processes; to use every means to counter attempts to distort historical facts and whitewash crimes by the totalitarian regimes.
At the same time, mental health professionals are encouraged to be more active in developing strategies for preventing trauma transmission to future generations. The Declaration runs, “Descendants of victims, survivors and perpetrators grieving together, and giving each other permission to grieve, is an essential part of healing historical wounds.”
The Conference where politicians, historians, artists, and mental health professionals from America, Asia and Europe meet is the first event of the kind in Lithuania.
The Conference was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the Andrei Sakharov Research Centre for Democratic Development of Vytautas Magnus University, the Institute of Psychology of Vilnius University, and other partners.