Using Cultural-Historical Theory to Explore Trauma among Refugee Populations in Europe
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Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya [Cultural-Historical Psychology]
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The psychological impact of atrocities endured by refugee populations is clear, with the literature reporting significantly high prevalence rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Given the numerous criticisms surrounding the use of PTSD, we argue that cultural-historical psychology allows for a unique perspective in which to examine trauma among this population. Notably, we aim to bring a critical regard towards ‘psychiatrisation,’ arguing instead for a non-reductionist ontological vision of human nature and development as being rooted in cultural-historical context as well as material social practices. The results of a yearlong intervention in a center for refugee victims of torture in Athens is presented, which included 3 months of participant observation and 125 interviews with health professionals, refugee community leaders and individual victims of torture. A qualitative case study is presented to emphasise the social, cultural, and historical location of trauma. The paper highlights the need to focus on the current material ecologies of refugees entering Europe – their developmental activities in interaction with their environment.
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