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New Resources: 5-20-2011

May 19, 2011

Best and Emerging Practices in the Care of Torture Survivors

That’s the focus of the latest issue of TORTURE Journal, a publication of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT). Featured articles focus on best practices in medical and psychiatric care, social and legal services, expressive therapies, and spiritual care. The journal is available for free download; for the hard copy, IRCT requests a contribution to cover shipping.

Hidden Anxiety and the Conspiracy
of Silence: an Interview Recalls
the Armenian

In a late 2010, edition of the Mirror Spectator, an English Language newspaper published in Massachusetts for the Armenian community, Marni Pilafian has an interview with psychologist Jack Danielian. Danielian is the author of “A Century of Silence: Terror and the Armenian Genocide,” recently published in the American Journal of Psychoanalysis, (and reprinted in Ararat Magazine.)
            In the interview, Dr. Danielian, a grandchild of survivors, reflects on the impact of the genocide on the second and third generations of Armenian immigrants. Here, he recounts an incident from his own childhood (emphases are mine.)

“An 8-year-old boy hears a terrifying wail emanating from a female visitor in another room having coffee with the boy’s parents and grandparents. The wail is followed by prolonged sobbing, which then is followed by an equally prolonged silence. The woman is a victim- survivor of the Armenian Genocide and a participant in the Death March, arriving in this country a shell of her former self. She is thoroughly trapped in the dangerous and potentially lethal world between terror and nothingness, despite seemingly involved in an innocuous social situation.
            Without awareness, the boy is also trapped between hearing and not-hearing, between knowing and not-knowing. Despite belonging to a close-knit family, the 8-year-old does not enter the coffee room to seek explanation or reassurance from his family. And neither the boy nor his parents ever bring up the experience again.”

Among the Asylum Seekers

With J.K. Rowling’s 2008 commencement address in mind – and its exhortation to young graduates touse your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice,” I wanted to mention a little essay in The Pennsylvania Gazette, alumni magazine of the University of Pennsylvania.
            Livia Rurarz-Huygens is an ’06 graduate who has been working as a resettlement consultant for the UNHCR in Iraq and now in Kenya. In describing her work with asylum seekers, she reflects on the influence of her own background. (The complete article is available online):

I do know something about the pain and despair of being uprooted from your home. My mother’s family came to the US as refugees from Poland in 1981. The sense of loss that comes from being orphaned from one’s home and culture is hard to describe, but even as a child born in my mother’s adoptive homeland, I could feel their disorientation and knew that it would never fully disappear. No refugee can really know what awaits them in a land so different from their own.

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