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Transcult Psychiatry. 2015 Aug;52(4):543-60. doi: 10.1177/1363461514568336. Epub 2015 Feb 4.

Calming the mind: Healing after mass atrocity in Cambodia.

Author information

1
Dignity - Danish Institute Against Torture inger.agger@gmail.com.

Abstract

After catastrophic events in which people's survival has been threatened, as happened during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia 1975-1979, some continue to suffer from painful mental symptoms. Surveys carried out in Cambodia based on Western diagnostic categories have found a high prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety symptoms in the population. This study explored Cambodian approaches to healing trauma, examining the ways in which Cambodians appeal to elements of Buddhism in their efforts to calm their minds, situating this mode of coping in the context of broader Khmer Buddhist practice and understandings. Western psychology may have much to learn from local, contextualised methods of dealing with the aftermath of trauma, including Khmer understandings of distress and approaches to relief. Methods of assessment and treatment of distress cannot be transposed wholesale from one cultural setting to another but require considerable cultural adaptation. This kind of cultural interchange may give rise to innovative, hybrid discourses and methods that may have much to offer in the support of victims of organised violence.

KEYWORDS:

Cambodia; Theravada Buddhism; cultural adaptation; healing; mindfulness; trauma

PMID:
25653141
PMCID:
PMC4532676
DOI:
10.1177/1363461514568336
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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