The first session was presented by two extremely articulate and erudite Austrian psychiatrists, on the long-term consequences of war. Not only was their methodology presented to us in a way that made complex research easily understandable, but their humanity and compassion shone through. They also showed their political understanding when talking about how core funding for NGOs makes coordinated action almost impossible, and the lack of leadership leads to a miasma of fragmented services.
A very interesting clinical point was about how ‘low intensity warfare’ could lead to a more complex form of PTSD, or personality change, suggesting the mechanism was not unlike that of childhood trauma and abuse: while still mentally recovering from one adversity, another happens and has a complex interaction with it. They also spoke movingly about how children and families being ‘repatriated’ from Germany to Kosovo showed very high rates of disturbance, and how the family disturbance would probably be passed onto the next generation. The terrible consequences of public policy on mental health – thorough adjustment, loss and emotional insecurity.
· “We are in the kindergarten of democracy” – which is never a fully attained goal, only ever a process and direction of travel (much as we say in TC practice)
· Citizens – in a socially-networked world – can no longer be considered as ‘owned’ by single country or organisation. The fear of ‘them’ has disappeared. Again, like a TC?
· ‘The cancer of multinational corporations’ with the dominance they have from their immense power and financial resources, can only be balanced by the power of the population – talking to each other. Just like they do in groups.