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J Trauma Stress. 2003 Oct;16(5):445-50.

A pilot study of PTSD symptoms among Kalahari Bushmen.

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  • 1Center for Trauma Recovery, University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.


This study reflects an attempt to assess posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a radically nonwestern culture, that of the Kalahari Bushmen, the Ju/'hoansi. After translating DSM-IV PTSD symptoms into their difficult and click-laden language, potential participants were nominated by village elders who were aware of domestic violence and symptoms during the preceding year. Ten men and 10 women, identified as meeting Criteria A, E, and F, were interviewed regarding their symptoms. Thirty-five percent of the sample met the criteria for PTSD for incidents occurring within the past year. All participants met the reexperiencing and arousal criteria but many otherwise distressed participants did not meet the avoidance criterion for PTSD. These results compare closely with PTSD assessments in other non-Western societies, while providing some empirical support of two new ideas about how the avoidance behaviors in such societies might be reconciled with information-processing theories of PTSD.

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