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Scand J Soc Med. 1985;13(3):89-93.

Psychological and physical long-term effects of torture. A follow-up examination of 22 Greek persons exposed to torture 1967-1974.


After an observation period of about 10 years a follow-up examination was made of 22 Greeks earlier exposed to torture. All had physical symptoms and about 90% of the examinees had chronic psychological symptoms which had appeared after the torture experience, the most notable of which were emotional instability, depression, passivity, fatigue and disturbed sleep. Eight of the victims had a chronic organic psychosyndrome as defined by us. The clinical picture of the torture victims is very similar to other stress-conditioned syndromes, which underlines the significance of the psychological trauma for the pathogenesis. Certain physical symptoms can be related to specific forms of torture; in this series particularly, symptoms of the feet and lower extremities can be related to 'falanga' (repeated blows to the soles of the feet). The most noticeable objective finding was unilateral atrophy of testis in 2 of the examinees caused in all probability by genital torture. Treatment of the sequelae to torture should be initiated as early as possible in the course of the illness, and studies on the effect of this treatment should be carried out.

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