After a year of seclusion, uncertainty, and loneliness, connections are starting to flourish again. Our souls are ravenous for them, even if many of us became accustomed to being locked away. After all, people are social beings.
We are now at the stage where we want to uncover the effects this collective experience had on the world. Is there a paradigm shift ahead of us, and can we all finally bask in the commonality of this unforeseeable event we called reality for over a year?
Well, Amrita V. Subramanian happens to believe we are at the brink of a phenomenon shaped by humanity’s collective trauma, which she hopes to bring to light with her study, Growing Beyond Pain. Her focal point will lie on a positive aspect of trauma, going beyond what is usually denoted by the word itself.
“Collectively, we have to understand how the world has changed,” Subramanian tells BELatina. “Does reality offer us a new glimmer of growth?”
A Personal Journey
Subramanian is a former banker who knows that there is growth from trauma based on what she’s endured in her own life.
At the age of five, she was abandoned in a convent. The trauma and abuse she endured throughout that time resulted in selective mutism until she was 11 years old, among other things. But now, she is using her voice to enlighten humanity and using it to speak out about the many facets of pain. And pain, as she told us, can be like the glue of life.
“This is the beginning of the study of growth coming out of collective trauma,” she said.
She is also a professor, author, and entrepreneur. Her experience led her to teach organizational dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania. She is often invited as a lecturer to the Wharton School, where she covers topics such as power politics, coaching group dynamics, and post disruptive growth after Covid.
The Message Takes Another Dimension
The multi-hyphenated woman is on a mission to reach the masses with her message to empower humanity and fuel international hope by tapping into their collective trauma. Subramanian plans on doing this through research and launching a global movement that allows people to revise their inner scripts while healing themselves.
“As of today, we have no study that says how we collectively are coming out of this trauma? And here’s why: Because we don’t have a language for it.”
Combining the words of hope and trauma can seem paradoxical, but the reality is that merging both these concepts is as natural as breathing. The only reason we don’t associate it as such is because of the underdeveloped language we have to describe this circumstance.
“We have grown in different ways,” she shared. “We have responded to different levels of resilience, levels of hardness, levels of emotional growth, but we don’t have the language for it.”
The complexity of language is at the core of understanding the positive outlook of trauma. However, the English language associates the word with woundedness, whereas other regions around the world have found a way to characterize it in a different light. For instance, Subramanian said that in Germany, the word traum (grammatically similar to ‘trauma’ in English) means daydream.
“Daydream, a dream — signifying a shaping event,” she added. “So, falling in love is a positive trauma, finding your favorite job is this positive trauma, moving into the house you’ve always wanted to live in and living a life that is a dream is a positive trauma.”
A Pandemic Transformed into Emotional Warfare
Most of the time, trauma is seen through lenses that capture its extreme features. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is one of these valid yet extreme attributes of trauma.
PTSD is a condition that is usually long-term and requires plenty of attention. In the United States alone, three to seven percent of people have PTSD. Being that this is the case, Subramanian wants to work with the remaining percentage, which is about 92 percent of the population.
Now, if 92 percent are not suffering, then that must mean there is growth happening, Subramanian says.
The Growing Beyond Pain researcher likened the world’s experience of the pandemic to war.
“History teaches us that war is all political warfare. Religious wars are economic. But this war has been an emotional war.”
In other words, our mental health was fighting for its survival throughout all of last year’s ordeal. She believes that such emotional survival is key to the impending healing that should come from the pandemic.
“We have never seen history from how we’ve come out of it stronger with more choices, with more growth, with more options for being equal in the world than how the world was before this started.”
The study is going to take place in three different phases. The first phase will focus on obtaining 100 or more participants, and during the second phase, we will collect data via video interviews, and transcripts will be carried out. She also plans to publish the research in a peer-reviewed journal.
Furthermore, the third phase should go live next year, where she will recruit more people.
She believes it is necessary to be as diverse as possible with her research. This is why she is not looking for one specific demographic as she understands that in order to uncover the shared experiences humanity recently may have endured as a collective.
Her hypothesis lies in uncovering people’s ability to use trauma or crisis as a point of renewal, rebirth, and metamorphosis.
“Many of us used it [the pandemic] as a springboard to the renewal of our identity.
“Each one of us is going through the same conditions of COVID, same threats of death, same threats of loss. And yet some of us have made it a process from trauma to triumph.”
Through this study, she hopes to dive into the behaviors of those who learn better, quicker, and listen to life because she believes that growth occurs from those actions.
If that’s the case, then it could quite possibly be a pattern of growth and one that involves a large percentage of people.
“Life is talking to us,” she said. “Are we listening, and are we learning?”
Subramanian wants people to understand that compassion and synthesis are an integral part of humanity, which will be further developed in the study. And it’s not only compassion for ourselves that’s significant; it’s the compassion for others and for the world we all live in because we all share this existence. After all, as she said, it’s not just your existence or mine — we share this.
“There is an innate wisdom in humanity, in kindness, and compassion.”
When asked what the BELatina audience should take away from her study, she advised having people trust themselves and the pain.
“There is something in the pain that would release something, not only for themselves, but also with others — pain is not in vain, there is something beautiful that has grown in it, but that can only come out when we start looking at it as a process to be explored, not as a process to be denied.”
If you want to participate in the study, please go to the ‘Growing Beyond Pain’ website.
This can be a groundbreaking moment for humanity, and you can be part of it.