Thursday, July 31, 2014

PTSD in Romania

From Quotidian Wonders:
For the past twenty-three years, Romanians have been suffering of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The fact that it was not recognized as such made it challenging to properly engage with its causes and deal with its symptoms. Described as a medical condition occurring “after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event in which serious physical harm occurred or was threatened” (WebMD), in Romania’s case the PTSD was caused by Nicolae Ceausescu’s brutal personal dictatorship. As that took place at national level and made the disorder a social phenomenon, it could be re-labeled in this case as Group Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (GPTSD). Romanians are not, by any means, the first nation to deal with GPTSD, although I am not aware of any other commentators who used a similar term. Postwar Germany and Japan, for instance, dealt with these issues after being defeated in WWII.

Romania’s special case within the former Eastern European communist block as the most violent personal dictatorship has never been formally identified as national trauma by the country’s new political leadership, which was more interested in installing itself in power and perpetuating the tools of oppression through different means than its predecessors. As a consequence, Romanians were not educated about how to understand themselves as victims of abuse and did not engage with that traumatic experience in a healthy way. While they displayed all the symptoms of PTSD, “shock, anger, nervousness, fear, and even guilt” (WebMD), Romanians re-directed that energy and dealt with the trauma as a loss. The history of post-communist Romania is thus an open book for Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief. (Read more.)

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