The Retaliatory Trauma Response Model: A New Interpretation for Cycles of Entrenched Reciprocal Violence in Post-Conflict Communities

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Prince, Daniel
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The problem of entrenched cycles of retaliatory intergroup violence in reintegrated communities following the cessation of a civil war is a well-observed but poorly understood phenomenon. Retaliatory cycles of violence are characterized by members of an ingroup pre-emptively and disproportionately attacking neutral outgroup members out of a sense of vulnerability and fear in a shared post-conflict environment. Left unaddressed, these cycles of entrenched retaliatory violence destabilize the shared intergroup community space, dramatically impeding longer-term reconciliation efforts and perpetuating experiences of insecurity and uncertainty for the residents. Current counselling approaches used by reconciliation approaches to help soothe the traumas and conclude cycles of retaliatory violence are often marginally effective. A contributing factor to this is due to is how modern reconciliation theory misinterprets the root causes of retaliatory behaviours leading to misdirected therapeutic interventions at incorrect points in the cycle of violence. This misdiagnosis is largely due to the more significant issue of modern reconciliation theory's failure to modernize its understanding of how trauma-based reactions to conflict interfere with cognitive-only theraputic approaches to peacebuilding. This capstone proposes the Retaliatory Trauma Response (RTR) model as a response to these problems. Integrating the latest research in neuropsychology, evolutionary psychology, and intergroup conflict studies, the RTR offers a new way to help frontline counsellors interpret and visualize why and how groups retaliate. Understanding the evolutionary and traumatic roots for why groups pre-emptively retaliate will support front-line counsellors to be better able to redirect and apply a wider skillset to trauma processing and peacebuilding therapies, so that these war-scarred communities can finally live in closer connection to peace and stability.
retaliatory violence , post conflict , aggression , trauma , reconciliation & reintegration , third party punishment , in group defense