Here, members of the Advisory Board and other people who are affiliated with the Pocket Project and have expertise in the field of collective and transgenerational trauma, share their perspectives on the current situation.

Video by Prof. Christian W. Mandl, MD, PhD

recorded on March 22, 2020

Prof. Christian W. Mandl, MD, PhD
About Prof. Mandl

Prof. Christian W. Mandl is a consultant for industrial, academic and non-profit organizations on translational aspects of vaccines, cancer immunotherapy and global health.

His engagement with the health care industry and public health organizations includes roles as a Co-founder and Chair, Scientific Advisory Board for Tiba Biotech (Boston, USA), Chair, Scientific Advisory Board for Themis Biotech (Vienna, Austria), and Chair, Scientific Advisory Group for the International Vaccine Institute (Seoul, Korea). Previously he was the Senior Vice President of Research for VIR Bio (San Francisco, USA). Until 2015, he was Global Head of Research, Early and Exploratory Clinical Development at Novartis Vaccines, where he led a global team of more than 300 discovery and clinical researchers developing a broad range of viral and bacterial vaccines, adjuvants and delivery platforms including the self-amplifying RNA technology (SAM→), which he initiated inspired by his previous academic research.

Prior to joining Novartis in 2008, Christian was Professor and Assistant Head of the Clinical Institute of Virology at Medical University of Vienna, Austria. He has authored more than 100 scientific publications and is an inventor on several patents for vaccine and RNA technologies.

linkedin.com/in/cwmandl

Statement by Dr. Christina Bethell

When an entire society comes under the same threat, like COVID19, there is no “other”. Just we. Even as I live in the epicenter of frantic COVID19 research here at Johns Hopkins University, I experience our shared threat as an opportunity to awaken further to love and practice the radical compassion and acceptance life requires.

Here, in our We Are the Medicine work we teach about looking for and prioritizing possibilities. We commit to becoming “we ninja’s” able to brave being present to take on frozen trauma and free our personal and collective brilliance to thrive together. As we live out the COVID19 threat I pray that we will act on the possibility to reach inside, to life and to each other with a curious drive to take on transparency and conduct small “on purpose” experiments to learn from our bodies, emotions and our being itself –which is always ready to give us feedback and insight to become free despite the innate threat and uncertainty life entails.

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Every one of us is born seeking safe, stable and nurturing connection. It is recognized as a felt, lived experience—a sort of sweet bio-synchrony—where we have the chance to awaken to ourselves in the recognition that another sees we exist and seeks (usually imperfectly) to find and attune to us in a caring “Serve and Return” dance. When this bio-synchrony did not happen early in life due to threat –like this threat—our bodies, brains and hearts go haywire. So, as we face the COVID19 threat together I see us leaning in to become aware of our lived experience. Do we trust life? Is the social distancing and permission to isolate a welcomed reprieve or do we suffer? Can we accept, have compassion and respond creatively? Without awareness, what arises will inevitably be shaped by our own past experiences of threat.

In this time, we can reinforce fear or rewire our mental schemas and pull the thread of past embedded trauma evoked by this new threat and heal. To do this we need each other. Disconnection—now or in the past- is not actually possible. Yet with threat it seems natural to retract and seek safety however we can. Here, trauma is born. Our safety is in our conscious connection to ourselves, life and each other. Feel me leaning in. With all love in this time.

Christina Bethell
About Dr. Christina Bethell

Dr. Bethell is a Professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, where she works to advance a new integrated science of thriving to promote early and lifelong health of children, youth and families. She is the founding director of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI), a center within the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health. She leads a Mindfulness in Maternal and Child Health consortium and a national agenda to address childhood trauma to promote healing and well-being.

Video by Dr. Joana Breidenbach

Dr. Joana Breidenbach
About Dr. Joana Breidenbach

Dr. Joana Breidenbach is a cultural anthropologist, social entrepreneur and author. Co-founder of betterplace.org, Germany’s largest donation platform and the betterplace lab, a think and do tank researching the use of digital technologies for the common good. She supports initiatives in line with her interest in digital-social innovations and invests in mission-driven startups such as Clue, DeepL and nebenan.de.

Statement by Dr. Scilla Elworthy

In the last week of December 2019, I felt a wave of energy to escape from my father’s prison of shame, guilt, depression and inadequacy. I saw clearly that this inter-generational trauma, passed down from his experiences in WW1 and before, had come down through me. With a shudder I recalled the searing phrases of my upbringing!  I saw how this trauma has harmed all our lives, and I wanted to be part of healing it. So, I wrote down all that I wanted to apologise for, to my daughter, my daughter-in-law and my ex-partner, and have since communicated that to them. It has been and continues to be a deeply healing experience for us. It has helped me understand the eruptions of undigested past that are afflicting others, and coming to the surface in the global situation.

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I deeply believe that walking towards what frightens us is much more effective than trying to shoo it away, or mask it. What we resist will only show up again in a more forceful guise. So now, as the whole world faces upheaval, stress, anxiety and mortality, may be the very best time to own our part in family anguish. If we can have the courage to recognise traumas that may have been passed down through generations, and look into them, we can play our part in enabling them to transform.

Millions are suffering loss, grief and fear as their jobs and livelihoods disappear, as they cannot reach their loved ones, as they feel helpless to cope. At the same time, as thousands of people are observing, this pandemic is achieving change on a scale un-dreamed of, that may ultimately permit human survival on the planet.  It is showing us that we do not need to jump on planes at the slightest whim, enabling pollution levels to clear, allowing us to question our frantic consumption habits, encouraging neighbours to help each other as in war-time, making heroes and heroines of health services workers, and keeping many of us at home. That time at home can become a transformation rather than a trial. It can offer us time, precious time, to resume that daily practice of self-reflection, to heal our family damage, and to re-build the intelligence of our hearts – while we take a rest from stressing our minds.

Dr. Scilla Elworthy
About Dr. Scilla Elworthy

Dr. Scilla Elworthy is a founder and former director of the Oxford Research Group for twenty years, developing effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers worldwide and their critics. Three times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, she founded Peace Direct in 2002, and is now developing The Business Plan for Peace – building a world without war.  

www.scillaelworthy.com