Publications of Interest

Race, Trauma and Dissociation

This quarter POI focuses on recent papers which explore the intersection of race, trauma and dissociation, and racialized trauma. Articles span the conceptual, theoretical and clinical. I hope you enjoy reading this. If you have any ideas for themes for POI make sure you let me know at

Gómez, J.M. & Gobin, R.L. (2020).  Black Women and Girls & #MeToo: Rape, Cultural Betrayal, & Healing. Sex Roles (2020) 82:1–12.


Created by U.S. Black female activist, Tarana Burke, the #MeToo movement gained popularity in 2017, shedding light on the pervasive sexual harassment and assault of women. Since long before Anita Hill and @RapedAtSpelman, racial trauma has complicated the post-sexual violence landscape for U.S. Black women and girls, which may inhibit their ability to say Bme too.^ It is within this context of racial trauma that cultural betrayal trauma theory (CBTT) was developed: a new framework for understanding how outcomes of interpersonal trauma, like rape, are impacted by both victim and perpetrator(s) being subjected to inequality. In the present article, racial trauma and its effects on Black Americans is discussed. Then, the collective sense of being in U.S. Black culture, along with the burden placed on Black females, is delineated. Next, CBTT is defined and its empirical support and implications are detailed. Finally, mechanisms to address the interwoven harm of racial trauma and cultural betrayal trauma within institutions (e.g., mental health care) and the community (e.g., in collaboration with the Black church) is elucidated to facilitate healing through #MeToo and beyond.

Calland, R. (2019). Race, power and intimacy in the intersubjective field: the intersection of racialised cultural complexes and personal complexes. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 9, 64, 3, 367–385

Abstract: This paper presents work with a biracial young woman, in the context of a predominantly white Jungian training organisation. The patient’s relational difficulties and her struggle to integrate different aspects of her personality are understood in terms of the overlapping influences of developmental trauma, transgenerational trauma relating to the legacy of slavery in the Caribbean, conflictual racial identities, internalised racism, and the British black/white racial cultural complex. The author presents her understanding of an unfolding dynamic in the analytic relationship in which the black slave/white master schema was apparently reversed between them, with the white analyst becoming subservient to the black patient. The paper tracks the process through which trust was built alongside the development of this joint defence against intimacy – which eventually had to be relinquished by both partners in the dyad. A white on black ‘rescue fantasy’, identified by the patient as a self-serving part of her father’s personality, is explored in relation to the analytic relationship and the training context.

Gómez, J.M. (2019). Isn’t It All About Victimization? (Intra)cultural Pressure and Cultural Betrayal Trauma in Ethnic Minority College Women. Violence Against Women, 25(10) 1211–1225. DOI: 10.1177/1077801218811682


Cultural betrayal trauma theory proposes that intraracial trauma in ethnic minority populations includes a cultural betrayal that contributes to outcomes, such as symptoms of PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder; posttraumatic stress symptoms [PTSS]), dissociation, and (intra)cultural pressure. Participants (n = 179) were ethnic minority female college students, who completed online questionnaires. The results revealed that when controlling for age, ethnicity, and interracial trauma, intraracial trauma and (intra)cultural pressure affected PTSS and dissociation. There were also indirect effects of cultural betrayal trauma on outcomes through (intra)cultural pressure. The current study can contribute to clinical interventions that address trauma-related mental health in ethnic minority college women.

Gómez, J.M. (2019). Group dynamics as a predictor of dissociation for Black victims of violence: An exploratory study of cultural betrayal trauma theory. Transcultural Psychiatry 0(0) 1–17. DOI: 10.1177/1363461519847300


Violence victimization is prevalent in the US and is linked to costly mental health outcomes, including dissociation and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Black Americans are at increased risk for violence victimization, while additionally enduring racism that impacts mental health. Moreover, discrimination affects outcomes of violence. Cultural betrayal trauma theory (CBTT) is a new framework for examining the impact of within-group violence victimization (termed cultural betrayal trauma) and minority status on outcomes. Furthermore, CBTT examines posttraumatic group dynamics, such as (intra)cultural pressure. As pressure to protect the minority ingroup by not disclosing cultural betrayal trauma, (intra)cultural pressure may impact outcomes. The purpose of the exploratory study was to examine the impact of cultural betrayal trauma and (intra)cultural pressure on dissociation and posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS). Participants (N¼43) were Black/African American university students who completed online measures assessing violence victimization and outcomes. Linear regression analyses revealed that cultural betrayal trauma predicted PTSS, whereas (intra)cultural pressure predicted dissociation. The current study has implications for examining the impact of group dynamics, such as (intra)cultural pressure, in clinical interventions for Black victims of cultural betrayal trauma. Such cultural competency in mental health care treatment may help reduce mental health disparities.

Thomas O’Hare, Ce Shen, and Margaret V. Sherrer (2019). Racial Differences in Response to Trauma: Comparing African-American, White, and Hispanic People With Severe Mental Illness. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work, v28 (2), 151–164.


Objective: To test hypotheses that Hispanics will report greater posttraumatic stress symptoms than Whites or African-Americans with severe mental illness (N = 132) when lifetime trauma, psychiatric symptoms, and negative appraisal of trauma are controlled; and, that negative appraisal will mediate trauma and posttraumatic stress symptoms for Hispanics. Methods: Data were collected by staff in an urban community mental health center. Results: Hispanics reported greater posttraumatic stress symptoms, and negative appraisals mediated trauma and posttraumatic stress symptoms in Hispanics only. Conclusions: Practitioners should target both the intensity and meaning of trauma and its consequences as they may vary by ethnic/racial background.