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Int J Soc Psychiatry. 1996 Winter;42(4):305-17.

From PTSD to voices in context: from an "experience-far" to an "experience-near" understanding of responses to war and atrocity across cultures.

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  • 1Willesden Centre for Psychological Treatment, Willesden Hospital, London, U.K.


This paper examines some of the difficulties of exporting the Western concept of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to non-Western cultures. Using data drawn from Guatemala where I lived and worked among Quiché Mayan war widows, illustrates how culturally-specific understandings of events and reactions to them affect the well-being (or otherwise) of people exposed to extreme adverse events. The paper turns to the voices of the widows, who experienced and survived intense political conflict, explaining their experiences of violence within their particular context.

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