("He" in this text - to mean "He" or "She").
We react to serious mishaps, life altering setbacks, disasters, abuse, and death by going through phases of grieving. Traumas are complex outcomes of psychodynamic and biochemical processes. But particulars of traumas depend heavily on interaction between victim and his social milieu.
It would seem that while victim progresses from denial to helplessness, rage, depression and thence to acceptance of traumatizing events - society demonstrates a diametrically opposed progression. This incompatibility, this mismatch of psychological phases is what leads to formation and crystallization of trauma.
Victim phase I - DENIAL
The magnitude of such unfortunate events is often so overwhelming, their nature so alien, and their message so menacing - that denial sets in as a defence mechanism aimed at self preservation. The victim denies that event occurred, that he or she is being abused, that a loved one passed away.
Society phase I - ACCEPTANCE, MOVING ON
The victim's nearest ("Society") - his colleagues, his employees, his clients, even his spouse, children, and friends - rarely experience events with same shattering intensity. They are likely to accept bad news and move on. Even at their most considerate and empathic, they are likely to lose patience with victim's state of mind. They tend to ignore victim, or chastise him, to mock, or to deride his feelings or behaviour, to collude to repress painful memories, or to trivialize them.
Summary Phase I
The mismatch between victim's reactive patterns and emotional needs and society's matter-of-fact attitude hinders growth and healing. The victim requires society's help in avoiding a head-on confrontation with a reality he cannot digest. Instead, society serves as a constant and mentally destabilizing reminder of root of victim's unbearable agony (the Job syndrome).
Victim phase II - HELPLESSNESS
Denial gradually gives way to a sense of all-pervasive and humiliating helplessness, often accompanied by debilitating fatigue and mental disintegration. These are among classic symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). These are bitter results of internalization and integration of harsh realization that there is nothing one can do to alter outcomes of a natural, or man-made, catastrophe. The horror in confronting one's finiteness, meaninglessness, negligibility, and powerlessness - is overpowering.
Society phase II - DEPRESSION
The more members of society come to grips with magnitude of loss, or evil, or threat represented by grief inducing events - sadder they become. Depression is often little more than suppressed or self-directed anger. The anger, in this case, is belatedly induced by an identified or diffuse source of threat, or of evil, or loss. It is a higher level variant of "fight or flight" reaction, tampered by rational understanding that "source" is often too abstract to tackle directly.
Summary Phase II
Thus, when victim is most in need, terrified by his helplessness and adrift - society is immersed in depression and unable to provide a holding and supporting environment. Growth and healing is again retarded by social interaction. The victim's innate sense of annulment is enhanced by self-addressed anger (=depression) of those around him.
Both victim and society react with RAGE to their predicaments. In an effort to narcissistically reassert himself, victim develops a grandiose sense of anger directed at paranoidally selected, unreal, diffuse, and abstract targets (=frustration sources). By expressing aggression, victim re-acquires mastery of world and of himself.
Members of society use rage to re-direct root cause of their depression (which is, as we said, self directed anger) and to channel it safely. To ensure that this expressed aggression alleviates their depression - real targets must are selected and real punishments meted out. In this respect, "social rage" differs from victim's. The former is intended to sublimate aggression and channel it in a socially acceptable manner - latter to reassert narcissistic self-love as an antidote to an all-devouring sense of helplessness.