Reparations and Mental Health

M. Brinton Lykes and Marcie Mersky

in The Handbook of Reparations

Published in print March 2006 | ISBN: 9780199291922
Published online May 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603716 | DOI:
Reparations and Mental Health

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This paper provides an overview of psychosocial and mental health theory and practice as it has emerged in contexts of war, post-war, and transitional situations. It identifies several models that have guided much of this work until now, critically examines their underlying assumptions, and posits a series of limitations inherent in the dominant paradigm of post-traumatic stress disorder, especially as applied in the aftermath of political violence. It argues that psychosocial work as part of reparations processes must be designed and enacted within specific historical, cultural, sociopolitical contexts, with singular individuals and their particular communities. This perspective permits more effective ways of responding to and working within the diversity of challenges facing societies seeking to reconstruct in the wake of war and other forms of organized political violence. An alternative framework for this work is proposed, which must be articulated and shaped in practice by individuals, families, and groups in their neighborhoods, communities, and societies. Exhumations and reburials, in two distinct contexts, are examined as sites for psychosocial work within reparation processes. The paper concludes by describing ongoing questions that challenge psychosocial workers hoping to contribute to reparations work.

Keywords: mental health; war; post-traumatic stress disorder; reparations program; psychosocial work

Chapter.  14372 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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