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Psychological trauma is a response to an event that a person finds highly stressful. Examples of stressful events can include being in a war zone, a natural disaster, or an accident. Trauma can cause a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms. Not everyone who experiences a stressful event will develop trauma. [1] Trauma at the personal level has been known to bend the understanding of oneself and one’s position in the world.

The term collective trauma refers to the psychological reactions to a traumatic event that affect an entire society. [2] Traumatic events are often witnessed by an entire community and often elicit a shared emotional reaction in them. Just as trauma is expressed differently by people, these shared emotional responses could range differently from one person to another. Collective trauma also changes the manner survivors perceive the world and understand the relationship between them and other groups.

Hirschbereger [2] described collective trauma as a cataclysmic event that shatters the basic fabric of society. Aside from the horrific loss of life, collective trauma is also a crisis of meaning.

In 2020, the world experienced the deadly COVID-19 virus that affected the social, psychological, and physical health of people. Due to its easy mode of transmission, social support systems, public institutions, and workplaces were shut down. In a matter of months, we went from people who had physical support and social lives to people who could only see loved ones and colleagues through a screen.

These led to shared feelings of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty in people all over the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has been termed a period of collective trauma, with researchers saying that the effects of the mass trauma it has inflicted will linger across societies for years. [3]

After the SARS outbreak in 2003, both healthcare workers and people who were self-quarantined exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The COVID-19 pandemic could have a sim