Multimodal psychoanalytically informed aid work with children traumatized by the Chechen war

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As demonstrated in three cases, this paper illustrates how psychoanalytically informed multimodal care was an essential element of effective medical treatment of children traumatized by the Chechen war. Multimodal psycho-analytically informed aid work involves holding a variety of psychoanalytic viewpoints, including but not restricted to those represented by the Freudian, Interpersonal, and Relational orientations; its purpose is to allow for greater clarity in conceptualizing the traumatized child's response to war in order to provide the necessary care during the therapeutic process. Among the issues addressed are how traumatic memory can initially be expressed nonverbally, and therefore the use of embodied life-metaphors and witnessing are central to the survivors' ability to remember and symbolize. In addition, the significance of cultural awareness and sensitivity are explored as key components to the children's care. In the first case, the author illustrates how a traumatic life-metaphor can be resolved at an embodied, rather than an exclusively verbal, level. In the second case, cultural tradition and relativism have a significant impact on addressing medical and quality of life issues for the child. The third case illustrates how the analyst functions as recognizing witness to a parent's trauma; the "being with" of the relationship becomes the agent of the parent's change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-603
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


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