He saw everyone dying
Radu Teodorescu, psychiatrist at ICAR Foundation talks to Dilema Veche about his patients coming from war zones who suffered from trauma experiences.
‘Their file comes first. Most of the time, there are social worker’s notes and asylum seeker’s arguments presented to Romanian authorities in order to convince them to grant him legal status. Other times, as on that day, there are only motives for which a psychiatrical examination is recommended: a vague pain, bizzare bihaviour percived this way by the asylum centre staff or by the people with the same cultural background, lack of sleep, nightmares. In other words, an uncertain symptomatology, behind which it could be any disease.
I’ve met Hassan and others like him as I worked with doctors and psychologists of ICAR Foundation. The organisation was founded in 1992 and focused on providing to those who, for political reasons, experienced the harsh repression of totalitarian regimes. Over the years, we all gained experience regarding the psychiatrical consequences of a totalitarian repression. Starting from 2002, we have noticed the emergence of a new group affected by traumatic experiences: migrants. The fact that we already were familiar with the psychological consequences of trauma has made us sensitive to their needs, hence we have expanded our services so as to support them in moments when fragility is major and their coping mechanisms are broken. Currently, ICAR Foundation is the only organisation offering free medical and psychological services. If suffering is the same as for survivors of the communism prisons – fact which brought us closer to the new arrivals, but at the same time has made us realise that we are facing a new challenge: the cultural gap. Meanings, values, behaviour norms modulate the expression of psychiatric suffering, define the border between normality and pathology, and eventually, guide the diagnosis and treatment. With patience, tact, curiosity, empathy we have learned how to adapt in order to provide better assistance, avoiding pathologicalization or, on the contrary, excessive normalisation’.
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