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6th International Congress of the WIAMH

Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, August 13 -15, 1999.

RECOVERY OF A CHRONIC TRAUMA VICTIM

Ismet DIZDAREVIĆ

Department of Psychology, University of Sarajevo,

71 000 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Psychological Consequences of the aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina are deeply engraved in conscious and unconscious layer of the personality of the chronic traumatised persons. Many citizens, especially Bosniaks, have been exposed to a long-lasting and repeated trauma during the aggression. Persons, who survived the horrible circumstances of imprisonment in the Chetniks’ and Ustashas’ concentration camps, still express the symptoms of heavy psychic consequences two years after Dayton. Analysis of the concentration camp inmates’ statements points out that a certain number of individuals who were exposed to a long-lasting and repeated trauma demonstrate the heaviest symptoms of the posttraumatic stress disorder. These persons, as well as other chronic trauma victims have visible changes in cognitive, emotional and cognitive aspect of their personality. We shall set aside only some of them; loss of feeling of own identity, feeling of helplessness, depression and emotional dullness, "robot behaviour", extended depression, absence of initiative, etc. Having in mind that chronic trauma appears more frequently in the conditions of the concentration camp life, the professional literature therefore names this heavy psychological consequence as the "Syndrome of concentration camp" or "Syndrome of surviving".

The process of recovery of chronic trauma affected persons impose, besides other, psychological measures. The fundamental psychological interventions contain the needs of getting acquainted with characteristics of the Circumstances and events, characteristics of personality of chronic trauma affected persons and characteristics of social and cultural milieu in which the chronic trauma victims now live.

In offering appropriate psychosocial help to the chronic trauma affected persons it is necessary to create a suitable and encouraging psychosocial atmosphere in which a chronic trauma victim will feel the need of "facing the traumatic experience" by him. In such atmosphere, in experiencing actual social care and support, intra-psychic of rejection (avoiding of thinking and speaking about the sufferings experienced) intrusions (compulsive repeated experience of the events connected with the trauma) and search for meaning will go along the desirable ways of recovery. Within the psychological intervention system of measures the objective is stimulation of sound process of mastering traumatic experiences (informing and assistance in practical actions, emotional support, testing of reality, encountering with experience) as well as their including in particular flows of social, educational and professional activity.

Key Words: Chronic Trauma – Recovery – Psychological Measures

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