Genocide, Trauma, & Forgiveness

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Annual meeting at the APA 127th Convention in Chicago
Conversation hour at Trauma Psychology
Saturday August 10, 2019

Margarita Avedisian, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Armenian Behavioral Scientists and guests gathered at the American Psychological Association’s 127thConvention on Saturday, 10 August 2019. The theme of the meeting was Genocide, Trauma, and Forgiveness. The guest of honor was Jackie Kazarian, a visual artist, educator, and an activist! She is known for visually challenging and kinetic images that integrate painting and drawing with screen printing, stamping, flocking and collage. She taught painting and drawing at The Art Institute of Chicago and has created installations and videos for dance companies.

Dr. Takooshian, Professor of Psychology at Fordham University, and Founder of ABSA welcomed participants to the celebration, and conversation hour hosted by the APA Trauma Prevention Division. He then invited Dr. Kalayjian, the Chairperson of the program. Dr. Kalayjian expressed gratitude to participants and introduced the artist who talked about her recent theme of forgiveness for healing and transformation. She began by healing herself, and the generational trauma of the Ottoman Turkish Genocide of Armenians and other Christian minorities in Asia Minor.

Dr. Kalayjian, then presented ABSA Medal of Honor to Ms. Kazarian, for her lifelong artistic contributions to humanity, and her activism to help the Armenian community heal from generational impact of the genocidal trauma.

In 2015, Ms Kazarian created Armenia project which included the “forgiveness series,” which explores forgiveness as a personal act of volition. The Armenian word to forgive is “neroum” integrated with cultural references-church floorplans and illuminated manuscripts all intertwined with her grandmother’s traditional Armenian lace tatting from Marash, and Aintab, Anatolia.

Ms Kazarian refers to “Forgiveness & Transcendence,” from an Essay by Dr Ani Kalayjian in the Psychology periodical Clio’s Psyche (1999), describing her struggle to help Armenian elderly Genocide survivors “integrate the trauma, find meaning in their suffering, and move on to the next stage of their life.”

The Forgiveness series is currently exhibited at FAVA Gallery, Oberlin, Ohio. For more info kindly contact

Oscar Tatosian, Honorary Consulate General for the Republic of Armenia to Chicago, followed with his welcoming remarks, sharing his experiences and knowledge of Ms. Kazarian, and announced that one of Kazarian’s paintings is hanging in the US Embassy of The Republic of Armenia.

A very lively Q&A followed, participants grappling about how to forgive in absence of acknowledgement and in presence of denial for over 104 years. A reception followed, as Drs. Kalayjian and Takooshian expressed gratitude to Dr. Lynsey Miron, the chairperson of APA’s Trauma Division’s Programming, who facilitated the logistic of the event.

For the next APA Convention next year, August 6-9 in Washington, DC 2020 kindly visit, for monthly forgiveness workshops, kindly contact Dr Kalayjian at; to join ABSA kindly contact Dr Takooshian at