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It's 2020

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A Virus Threatens to Shut Down All of Humanity, How is it Our Humanity Threatens to Shut Down?

How Competing to Corner the Market on Trauma Has Deepened the Racial Divide

The debut book by Mark James Hammond, available soon via Olympia Publishing

Victims of Circumstance

Psychotherapeutic Counsellor Mark Hammond reveals how the devastating charge of Covid has challenged and tragically, in many cases disemboweled natural compassion.

A virus that affects the human race would unite us all, surely? Because Covid occurs within the framework of Capitalistic Individualism, empathy, Hammond argues, stretches only to a yawn-inducing apathy.  With the murder of George Floyd (a Collective-Trauma-within-a-Collective-Trauma) whatever empathy many white people retained for others has mutated into an indignant rage that has entrenched the racial tensions already gouged by Brexit and Neoliberal rhetoric. Market Forces, Meritocracy and Social Media have stoked a culture of competi- tion and left many behind. Now it seems all that many white people have left to compete over is victimhood.

Applying key concepts from Psychotherapy and social models of interaction, Hammond in- vestigates Collective Trauma with dialectic rigour. The divisions created and perpetuated by Capitalism, like the pandemic, are our commonality. As in Psychotherapy, examination of the individual within is the way toward healing the collective without.

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Victims or Volunteers?

In my work as a Psychotherapeutic Counsellor in North Tyneside I witness first hand the ill- effects of austerity measures as well as the paucity of accessible healthcare services for those on the economic breadline. I have counselled children and parents alike and have experi- enced the shared trauma of the Covid pandemic over the last few years. From these clients I have also felt the acute sense of projecting onto ‘the other’ when in hyper-aroused states and feel that there is much need for something restorative and something that will help people to think about collaboration and allyship rather than continuing on this trajectory of splitting and fragmentation. George Floyd’s death, the subsequent Black Lives Matters protests and the campaigns to remove statues commemorating Britain’s colonial past that followed have fur- thered a divide along racial lines. It endures in recent booing of footballers taking the knee and racist reactions to three black footballers missing penalties in the Euro 2021 tournament. A cool and regulated voice is needed to help white people reflect on our rage and to help us to understand that coming inside of a pandemic it is little wonder we have felt so emotionally dysregulated, scared and angry. I want to make it unequivocal that Capitalist ideology also plays a continual factor in our spiritual and emotional relationship to the world. Using the language of Psychology I aim to inspect and unpick our shortcomings and our mistakes on a broad cultural and historical level but in such a way as to tie back to the individual and how we can all start to effect a great global shift from within each of us, one at a time. My main objective is to provide a balm to a time of great wounding, to edify our collective spirit and to provide some hope at a time when it is all too short. Against the grain of opportunists like Nigel Farage and Piers Morgan I aim to highlight the machinations of the so-called 'Culture Wars'. White people cannot continue to depend on black thinkers, writers and activists to provide solutions. The problems exist within white people and my main objective is to shine some light on our collective Shadow. However, I hope to do this in a manner that does not augment ‘white guilt’ or conversely inspire the continuance of the ‘white saviour’ trope. This book will help white people take accountability without feeling personally blamed, creating a more fertile common ground for repair.

Why Me?

As a counsellor who has worked with traumatised clients I know the impact that historical narratives have on us all on a personal level. I have studied Transactional Analysis which is a modality that studies interactions and relationships. I am adept at examining the way that people inter-relate and why certain ways of being might arise out of both the environment and constitutional factors. I am a working class practitioner from the North East of England who works in schools around the region and I feel I have a strong grasp of the multi-faceted impacts of low-incomes and the affect this then bears on parenting and the structuring of the Self for children growing up today. Coming from a trans-generational consideration of my clients sets me in good stead as the writer of a book that investigates the weight that Imperial- ism still bears on generations and how traumatic lives of the past continue to influence lives of the present.

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