Is PTSD a ‘Good Enough’ Concept for Post-Conflict Mental Health Work?

Author/s Byron J. Good, Mary-Jo Del Vecchio Good
Publishing Year 2012 Issue 2012/2
Language Italian Pages 21 P. 99-119 File size 1662 KB
DOI 10.3280/RSF2012-002006
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In a classic article in 1992, Derek Summerfield argued that "for the vast majority of survivors posttraumatic stress is a pseudocondition, a reframing of the understandable suffering of war as a technical problem to which short-term technical solutions like counseling are applicable. There is no evidence that waraffected populations are seeking these imported approaches, which appear to ignore their own traditions, meaning systems, and active priorities (p.1449). This paper describes a program of active collaboration between a Harvard Medical School team and the International Organization for Migration Indonesia in responding to the "remainders of violence" of villagers in rural Aceh, Indonesia, following the 2004 tsunami and the 2005 peace agreement between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement that ended a twenty year conflict. The paper provides data from a series of studies indicating high levels of traumatic experience and mental health problems in post-conflict Aceh. It describes an IOM mental health outreach project that used teams of GP physicians and nurses to respond to mental health problems, and an evaluation project that provides strong empirical evidence of the program’s effectiveness. It argues that PTSD is far from a "pseudocondition" and that programs of intervention can be extremely powerful in reducing symptoms and disability. It concludes that developing mental health programs as part of the public health efforts in post-conflict settings should be of high priority.

Keywords: PTSD, trauma, post-conflict mental health care

Byron J. Good, Mary-Jo Del Vecchio Good, Il disturbo post-traumatico da stress è un concetto ‘sufficientemente buono’ per il lavoro psichiatrico sulle conseguenze dei conflitti? in "RIVISTA SPERIMENTALE DI FRENIATRIA" 2/2012, pp 99-119, DOI: 10.3280/RSF2012-002006