I’m feeling a bit under the weather today, so did not go to work at the Reporter.
But I did spend time finishing off the articles we have been given to prepare us for our participation in the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma.
Like the participants ourselves, they are an eclectic bunch, with varying doses of neurobiology, position papers about the importance of mental health, studies of specific groups and their experiences with health, mental health and trauma, and organizational behavior.
While the content is highly varied, clear messages about the importance of mental health and the broader social context to be integral elements of better-funded health policies are a constant underpinning feature of the works. So, too, is the point about the need for any health interventions to be done with respect for, and understanding of, cultural differences.
The final key point that I ‘ve gleaned so far was made in The Trauma Story, a piece by program founder Richard Mollica. As in his book, Healing Invisible Wounds, Mollica draws on, and extrapolates from, his experience working with refugees from Southeast Asia to offer general thoughts about the meaning and critical nature of storytelling in successful treatment of torture and trauma victims.
In the article, Mollica repeatedly quotes from Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz, which I wrote about last week. Levi’s writing about the changed and destroyed world of normalcy is a major element in his work and one that seems to have impressed Mollica a lot.
I received a book for the program co-edited by friend, scholar and author Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, and look forward to tackling that tonight. In the meantime, though, I am glad to have made it through the two dozen or so articles, which have helped me feel more oriented to, and eager for, the adventures that lie ahead.