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Cultural-Historical Psychology

Publisher: Moscow State University of Psychology and Education

ISSN (printed version): 1816-5435

ISSN (online): 2224-8935

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17759/chp

Started in 2005

Published quarterly

Free of fees
Open Access Journal

Affiliated ISCAR

 

Using Cultural-Historical Theory to Explore Trauma among Refugee Populations in Europe 93

Womersley G., Masters in Clinical Psychology, postgraduate, , Institute of Psychology and Education University of Neuchatel, Neuchatel, Switzerland, Gail.womersley@gmail.com
Kloetzer L., Sociocultural Psychology, Neuchatel University, Neuchatel, Switzerland, laure.kloetzer@unine.ch
Abstract
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.

Keywords: Cultural-historical theory, trauma, refugees, Vygotsky, development

Column: Psychotherapy And Psychocorrection

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17759/chp.2018140110

A Part of Article

Europe is living through a refugee crisis of historic proportions which has now become one of the continent’s defining challenges of the early 21st century. Not least among the difficulties are the public health challenges of the multiple traumas faced by this population which constitute severe threats to human, social, cultural, and community development.

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