In War’s Wake: Contextualizing Trauma Experiences and Psychosocial Well-Being Among Eritrean Youth

Citation:

Farwell, Nancy. 2003. “In War’s Wake: Contextualizing Trauma Experiences and Psychosocial Well-Being Among Eritrean Youth.” International Journal of Mental Health 32 (4): 20–30.

Author: Nancy Farwell

Abstract:

This study examines war trauma experienced by Eritrean youth, their psychological symptoms and contextual actors related to their psychosocial well-being in the postwar environment in Eritrea. The youth offered retrospective accounts of trauma experiences in semi-structured interviews that included open- and closed-ended questions and the administration of the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire. Among the ninety-seven youth in this school-based sample from four regions of Eritrea, exposure to trauma and economic hardship were significant predictors of psychological distress. Refugee status did not predict lower symptom levels, a factor related to the stressors encountered in exile as well as to the earlier war events that forced the youth and their families to flee their country. For many youth, grief over the loss of parents and close relatives was not resolved. The youth were generally positive about the future, both personally and in the context of a free and independent Eritrea. This article suggests that the intrapsychic post-traumatic stress disorder framework may be too narrow for conceptualizing war trauma, which is essentially psychosocial in nature, and deeply contextualized in a community's socioeconomic and political realities of conflict and its aftermath. Expanding this knowledge base is important order to ensure that practitioners and policy makers can effectively assist youth and their families with the postconflict tasks of healing and reintegration, essential elements of building a lasting peace.

Topics: Economies, Poverty, Gender, Girls, Boys, Health, Trauma, Humanitarian Assistance, Context-Appropriate Response to Trauma, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Eritrea

Year: 2003

© 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.