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QUB Conference Paper - Hamber

Brandon Hamber, "Agents of change? The role of mental health practitioners in truth and reconciliation processes". Paper presented at the Tearing Down the Walls: Rethinking the Political in Political Psychology", Queen's University, Belfast, 16 April 2010

Brandon Hamber

on 19 October 2010

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Transcript of QUB Conference Paper - Hamber

Agents of change? The role of mental health practitioners
in truth & reconciliation processes

Tearing Down the Walls:
Rethinking the Political in Political Psychology

Queen's University Belfast
14-16 April 2010

Professor Brandon Hamber
Director, INCORE, University of Ulster
Associate, Transitional Justice Institute www.incore.ulster.ac.uk
Context Complicated political transitions mainly South Africa and Northern Ireland Truth and Reconciliation Commission
in South Africa Central concern is not only evaluating this process, but also considering the role of psychology in it Core theoretical concern is how do individual and collective/political processes relate to one another Key Arguments
Interventions Sequential Trauma
What This Means for Psychologists? What is the role of psychologists in dealing with the past? 1. Accompaniment
2. Reprioritizing Interventions
3. Interdisciplinarity
4. Narrowing the micro and macro Psychologists cannot solve all the social and political problems in transitional societies. But we can ask "whether psychological knowledge will be placed in the service of constructing a new society" (Ignacio Martin-Baro). In the dealing with the past / transitional justice field this involves:

5. Speaking the truth and of ambivalence One cannot do psychology today…without trying to make a contribution toward changing all those conditions that dehumanize the majority of the population, alienating their consciousness and blocking the development of their historical identity.

Ignacio Martín-Baró There are contributions, e.g. policy suggestions for support services, counselling for survivors, support for staff, etc. Key question: where do we locate “psychological interventions”
Healing for some, but not for other Traumatic Reaction Traumatic Experience
Traumatic Experience
Traumatic Reaction Sequence 3: Context
Sequence 2: Context Sequence 1: Context
Sequence 3: Context
Sequence 2: Context Sequence 1: Context
Sequential Trauma
Sequential Trauma
Keilson’s sequential traumatisation or contextual model implies that social context shapes the traumatic outcome often more profoundly than the original violation. CONVENTIONAL MODEL Support services Testimony
Conditional factors (truth, justice, reparation, etc.) 'Ambivalences' CONTEXT
Some recongnition of the importance of context Support services Public testimony and statement-taking 'ambivalences' "Ambivalence" Conditional factors (truth, justice, reparation, etc.) Testimony
Support services CONTEXT MODEL Psychology marginalised in process because of perception of psychology and how psychology sees itself But at the public discourse level psychology is characterised in a basic way
'Closure is attainable’ ‘The nation will be healed’
‘Revealing is healing’ and catharsis model A partial answer to this question lies in how we conceptualise trauma and political violence. Extreme political traumatisation
Keilson’s concept of sequential traumatisation implies a radical change in understanding trauma Traumatic Process Traumatic Process The corollary of this, stated plainly, is presumably changing the social context influences the traumatic outcome. If this is correct then it implies a responsibility. If we have the wellbeing of survivors and families of victims at heart, we need to consider changes in the context as a psychological intervention, not merely a social or political concern. Transitional context often concerns the attainment of truth, justice, reparations, but also connection between groups, changing the discourse of oppression and dehumanisation, as well as structural change Dominant recognition of context CONTEXT 1) Accompaniment
2) Reprioritising interventions
3) Interdisciplinarity
4) Narrowing the micro and the macro
5) Speaking the truth and of ambivalence There is a need to understand trauma as related to context 21,000 statements 1,800 public hearings 7,100 amnesty applicants $4,000 reparations About 1,200 granted Repairing the Irreparable Time.com CBC News ‘Forgiveness is desirable’ Presentation available at http://tinyurl.com/qubpaper
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