Mass trauma events, such as wars, political violence, torture, and natural disasters, raise important mental health, human rights, and political issues. The so-called war on terror in the aftermath of 9/11, invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan by the US and its allies, extraordinary renditions, “black sites,” “enhanced interrogation” of detainees, and health professionals’ involvement in torture are among the many issues that generated considerable controversy and concern in the last 15 years. There has been much debate among scholars, as well as in the media and the public on what constitutes torture. There have been arguments that “enhanced interrogation techniques,” such as waterboarding, do not constitute torture. Some have even argued that torture is justifiable in certain circumstances. There is renewed interest in these issues with the new US administration’s statements about “waterboarding” and other “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
Another much debated issue, particularly among mental health professionals, concerns effective psychological care of mass trauma survivors. There are millions of people around the world who are suffering from debilitating psychological effects of wars, armed conflicts, torture, and natural disasters. Yet, efforts in addressing the mental healthcare needs of such people have been far from adequate.
I have argued time and again in my scientific articles, as well as in the media, that any debate on such important issues needs to be informed by science and not by subjective personal opinions or political considerations. Together with my co-workers, I have spent 25 years conducting research into war, torture, and natural disaster trauma and accumulated substantial knowledge that can inform moral, legal, and political judgments and policy decisions on these issues. [More information on this research can be found in our website.] Although much of this knowledge has been published in scientific journals and books (see publications page), so far only a relatively small part of it has been made available to the public in an easily understandable non-technical language. Such knowledge stands a chance of having some impact only when shared with the public as widely as possible. This is why this blog came into existence.
In this blog I provide evidence-based opinions on these issues in as much lay language as possible. So, regardless of your professional or educational background, if you are searching for informed opinion on these issues, you are at the right address!
If you read my articles, you will see that I present fairly critical reviews of various human rights and political issues. Writing in this blog in the hope that it might perhaps have some impact – however small – on the sad state of affairs in the world has so far been a rewarding experience for me. I hope you will enjoy reading my articles as much as I enjoyed writing them.