Post-Traumatic Syndromes in Childhood and Adolescence: A Handbook of Research and Practice

By Vittoria Ardino | Go to book overview

Chapter Four
Stories of Children and Adolescents
from Other Cultures: The Trauma
of Migration

Dalila Rezzoug, Thierry Baubet, and Marie Rose Moro


Introduction

Large numbers of migrants flee from their native countries to Europe seeking asylum after experiencing traumas or looking for economic survival. Regardless of their previous experiences, migrants and their children develop vulnerabilities as a result of their migration, a life experience which has exposed them to trans-cultural risk and post-traumatic syndromes. Some faced torture, war, and daily insecurity and had to develop defense mechanisms to survive in terrifying contexts. Others are overwhelmed by migration per se, which requires a difficult adjustment process to a new world.

This chapter focuses on individuals who are most vulnerable to migration trauma, namely children and adolescents. More specifically, the chapter explores how early experiences of asylum children and adolescents may contribute to their later vulnerability to trauma when they migrate to another country. Specific characteristics of these populations will be considered in terms of cultural expression of traumatic symptoms related to migration.

The reflections presented here are derived from the clinical work done in the trans-cultural psychiatry clinic (Moro, 1994, 1998, 2003, 2007; Rezzoug et al., 2007) at the Avicenne Hospital in France and from the humanitarian work with Médecins sans Frontières in conflict areas (Lachal, Ouss-Ryngaert, & Moro, 2003; Moro & Lebovici, 1995; Rezzoug et al., 2008).

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