Mental Health and the role of Trauma.
Collecting dead and wounded soldier from a battle field requires a spirit of steel. A personality able to look beyond the present towards a future of hope, a world that somehow will make meaningful the current carnage and loss of life, a belief in a better world. If you searched for an experience to change your life this surely would have to be it. Unfortunately such experiences often continue to haunt us making expulsion impossible. Memory has a habit of returning to inhabit the present.
There is a continuing debate among psychologists about the cause of mental distress, the nature-nurture dilemma. Whether mental health is the result of our biological genes or alternatively the product of daily circumstances. People behave differently, have different personalities resulting in different reactions to traumatic events.
An old friend from my youth had the misfortune to find himself in the middle of one of the last conventional wars, the Korean War, acting as a stretcher bearer. An experience that bordered at times on the inhuman not that all conflicts don't exemplify such. Stationed near a Turkish army unit, who’s members took turns each night to steal out and cut a few Chinese throats. The collection of the dead and dying by day coupled with this activity at night resulted in his developing a major alcohol problem. Unable to cope with everyday living he was condemned to a living hell, rarely being in a sober state.
Such are not uncommon problems with ex-servicemen, particularly historically were they were simper[y discharged and expected to re-enter normal life. Some are able to departmentise bad experiences, to shut them up in a secret cupboard and throw away the key, others never seem able to do so. With the current wave of throat cutting it seems reasonable to seek some understanding of the whys for such extreme actions.
Various psychological studies support the view that childhood trauma is substantially associated with an increased risk of psychosis. The study did not specify particular age groups, but as long as they were under 18years they were included. 41 studies [Filippo Varese and Colleagues] found evidence that childhood adversity is substantially associated with an increased risk for psychosis. The implication of these findings suggest that primary prevention is urgently needed in our detention centres in terms of policy towards refugee children. Specific types of adverse events include abuse, neglect, parental death, sexual abuse, not to mention exposure to war and parental separation.It seems reasonable to suggest that current Australian Government policy of the detention of refugee children for extended periods of time often years is creating perfect conditions for psychosis. Is it not possible that this policy is encouraging possible future recruits for terrorist organizations. Social factors play the strongest role in the origin of mental health problems, this is a serious question that needs to be addressed by government