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Reparations and Mental Health: Psychosocial Interventions Towards Healing, Human Agency, and Rethreading Social Realities

Lykes, M. Brinton
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) In Pablo De Greiff, ed., The Handbook of Reparations. Oxford, New York, USA: Oxford University Press. Pp. 589-622.

“This chapter provides an overview of psychosocial and mental health theory and practice as it has emerged in contexts of war, post-war, and transitional situations. We identify several models that have guided much of this work until now, critically examine their underlying assumptions, and posit a series of limitations inherent in the dominant paradigm of post-traumatic stress disorder, especially as applied in the aftermath of political violence. We then argue 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. We suggest that 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. We propose an alternative framework for this work, rather than a single model, which must be articulated and shaped in practice by individuals, families, and groups in their neighborhoods, communities, and societies. Finally we examine exhumations and reburials, in two distinct contexts, as sites for psychosocial work within reparations processes; and conclude the chapter by describing ongoing questions that challenge psychosocial workers hoping to contribute to reparations work.” (excerpt)


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