Beyond “Trauma”: Emergent Agendas in Understanding Mental Health in the Middle East

Date: September 27, 2014

The aim of this workshop is to initiate an intervention into debates on mental health, both generally, and vis-à-vis ongoing conflict in the increasingly misunderstood and misrepresented Middle Eastern region. Specifically the workshop aspires to bring together viewpoints that challenge dominant global health paradigms characterized by an individual-centred emphasis and by trauma/PTSD focused approaches. The current condition in the region calls for immediate attention to the ways we have thus far understood and approached issues related to mental health and relevant policy, both in the Middle East and globally.  The aim of the workshop is to create an avenue for drawing on comparative cultural perspectives towards an interdisciplinary understanding of mental well-being as a clinical, political and socio-historical entity.  This intervention has become even more critical and timely in the context of unrelenting military, social and psychological crises brought on by perpetual conflict in the region.

This workshop will thus open a conversation between practitioners and scholars with diverse disciplinary and regional expertise (Iraq, Palestine, Iran, and Afghanistan, to name a few). It will develop themes for a future collaborative, interdisciplinary and comparative project that considers the following questions:  What is the current state of affairs in mental healthcare in the region? What are the struggles and opportunities in psychiatry’s interactions with different Middle Eastern societies we well as their medical pedagogies? What are the ethical stakes in researching, listening to, treating, and representing the pain of others? How can we incorporate narrativity, accountability, and collective acts of remembering into therapeutic interventions? What therapeutic possibilities may cultural analysis, memory work, and political historicisation make available to scholars, clinicians and policymakers? How can psychiatry benefit from inclusive and collective narratives and experiences of war, and from a serious conceptual engagement with social science and humanities? And, finally, in what ways can such interdisciplinary debate be established and sustained in order to benefit clinical practice and [ruptured] spaces of everyday life?

The workshop format will consist of informal 15-20 minute long presentations followed by thematic discussions. The session will close with a concluding panel that will reflect on the day’s emerging themes and discuss future plans for the group. The group will then adjourn for reception and dinner. For more information please contact the organiser Dr Orkideh Behrouzan:


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2 Responses to Beyond “Trauma”: Emergent Agendas in Understanding Mental Health in the Middle East

  1. Luca says:

    Hi it is very interesting, what you wrote, I’d like be in contact with you, I am currently work as psychotherapist/trainer in Amman with an International Organization, focus on refugees traumatic experiences.
    Please contact me.


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