Mental Health 15 Years after the Killings in Rwanda: Imprisoned Perpetrators of the Genocide against the Tutsi versus a Community Sample of Survivors

Citation:

Schaal, Susanne, Roland Weierstall, Jean-Pierre Dusingizemungu, and Thomas Elbert. 2012. “Mental Health 15 Years after the Killings in Rwanda: Imprisoned Perpetrators of the Genocide against the Tutsi versus a Community Sample of Survivors.” Journal of Traumatic Stress 25 (4): 446–53. doi:10.1002/jts.21728.

Authors: Susanne Schaal, Roland Weierstall, Jean-Pierre Dusingizemungu, Thomas Elbert

Abstract:

Objectives of this study were to compare rates of mental health disorders in Rwandan genocide perpetrators with those of genocide survivors and to investigate potential predictors of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression for both groups. We expected high rates of mental disorders in both study groups and hypothesized that symptom severity would be predicted by female gender, older age, lower level of education, higher level of trauma exposure, lower level of agreement to reconciliation, and the participation in killing. Structured clinical interviews were carried out with 269 imprisoned perpetrators (66% men) and 114 survivors (64% women). Significantly more survivors than perpetrators met symptom criteria for PTSD (46% vs. 14%) and suffered from anxiety symptoms (59% vs. 36%). A substantial proportion of both groups suffered from clinically significant depression (46% vs. 41%). PTSD severity in perpetrators was associated with trauma exposure, high levels of agreement to reconciliation, and no participation in killing; the severity of depression was associated with trauma exposure and no participation in killing. In the survivor sample, the severity of PTSD and depression were both correlated with female gender, trauma exposure, and low levels of agreement to reconciliation. Results suggest that both groups exhibit considerable psychiatric morbidity.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Gender, Women, Genocide, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2012

© 2017 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.