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Qual Health Res. 2013 Jun;23(6):749-61. doi: 10.1177/1049732313482048. Epub 2013 Mar 19.

Healing after torture: the role of moving on.

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  • 1Center for Rural and Community Behavioral Health, University of New Mexico, Department of Psychiatry, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.


The experience and sociocultural context of torture and its treatment have received little attention in the biopsychosocial model of Western mental health for survivors of torture. The main focus has been on the reduction of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder and related conditions. Using grounded theory methodology, we investigated survivors' perceptions of the nature and process of healing after torture. The participants included 11 adult refugee torture survivors (9 men and 2 women) from African and Asian countries. Their stories of healing centered on the role of "moving on" with their lives, which included aspects of cognitive reframing and empowerment. Reliance on belief and value systems, safety measures, and social support, despite continuing psychological and physical symptomatology, enabled the moving-on process. Implications for theory, research, and practice are discussed.

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