The Plural ‘Self’: Group Therapy with Bosnian Women Survivors of War


Bolibok, Barbara. 2001. “The Plural ‘Self’: Group Therapy with Bosnian Women Survivors of War.” Smith College Studies in Social Work 71 (3): 459–72. doi:10.1080/00377310109517640.

Author: Barbara Bolibok


This theoretical exploration of forms of female self‐representation is based on a qualitative study of group therapy with Bosnian women survivors of war. It critiques the “self‐in‐relation” theories of female development for their reliance on a Western conception of selfhood. Borrowing the notion of the plural female subject from women's theory of autobiography, it provides an account of the Bosnian women survivors' efforts to heal from trauma that preserves their cultural integrity ("otherness"). The empirical part of the article analyzes group process in light of forms of female self‐representation. I argue that the Bosnian women's experience of healing can only be understood from the perspective of a collective experience that incorporates the representations of both “self" and "other." Although early in the stages of recover, the Bosnian women function at the level of an integrated and developed “communal (group) self.” Such a plural conception of self requires appropriate forms of treatment that question some underlying assumptions of Western forms of clinical intervention.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Health, Trauma, Post-Conflict Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina

Year: 2001

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