Symptoms and treatment of refugee survivors of torture residing in the United States

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Lamping, Susan
refugees; torture; traumatology; Psychology
article description
Survivors of torture and the therapists who serve them agree that torture inflicted by the hands of another human being is senseless and horrifying. In this research study, which includes and exploration of the symptoms experienced by survivors of torture as well as the steps that can be taken to overcome these symptoms, five therapists and two survivors were interviewed. After an individual has undergone a trauma as horrifying as torture, a number of post traumatic symptoms consume their energy. Those suffering from this syndrome experience an internal battle vacillating between recurrent thoughts of the trauma over which they have no control and an attempt to suppress these images. They also exist in a state of hyper-arousal and vigilance of the world around them, all of which are normal reactions to the experience of torture. The universality of this response to torture will be explored while also highlighting the cross cultural issues involved in serving torture survivors. In order to begin healing, the survivor must feel safe, develop adequate life coping skills and begin to trust those who are aiding them. Among the paths to recovery which are explored in this study include psychotherapy, group therapy, the process of gaining asylum, thought field therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, testimonial, and the development of current life functioning skills. Current research and professionals interviewed in this study agree that there is still a tremendous need for research to be conducted on effective treatment methods for survivors of torture.