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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Questioning western assessment of trauma among Tibetan torture survivors. A quantitative assessment study with comments from Buddhist Lamas

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Our study falls in line with the numerous studies providing a critique of the use of western diagnostic instruments for assessing trauma in a cross-cultural context. Our purpose has been to give evidence for the Tibetan torture survivors' degree of traumatisation and for their use of spirituality to overcome their difficult situation. In addition we wanted to question the use of our western methods in an Asian context. 102 tortured refugees attended a formalised needs assessment including neuropsychological and psychological measures of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist 25 (HSCL-25). Even though significant correlations between the amount of the measures of organized violence and neuropsychological and psychological distress were found in our data, the division of the material into different subgroups according to e.g. religious and non-religious groups did not have an influence on the level of distress. After the assessment study, eight Tibetan lamas were interviewed about their views on our methods and results. They questioned the validity of our western rating scales and explained that our results might be influenced by the Tibetan culture, which among other things can be characterized as having a view and articulation of suffering much more complex than the units of our study's rating scales.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTorture (on-line udgave af Torture Journal)
Volume19
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)194-203
Number of pages9
ISSN1997-3322
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Keywords: Anxiety; Buddhism; Depression; Educational Status; Female; Humans; India; Male; Psychiatric Status Rating Scales; Sex Factors; Stress, Psychological; Survivors; Tibet; Torture

ID: 171416