Author Topic: Callaghan (2015) Traumatic Memory: Child Soldiers, Childhood Trauma, and PTSD  (Read 1669 times)

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Just got confirmation that I will be giving the following paper at the American Anthropology Association conference in Denver, Colorado, in November 2015.

This paper is currently undergoing the peer-review process for publication, and I'm hopeful that I'll be able to share that with everyone before the conference.

Traumatic Memory: Child Soldiers, Childhood Trauma, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Abstract: In Rewriting the Soul (1995), Ian Hacking details the controversial causal linking of repressed memories of child abuse to what was then called Multiple Personality Disorder, while deftly arguing that the concept of “child abuse” — and even the idea of what constitutes a child — is historically and culturally specific, Hacking also notes the extent to which the notion of “childhood trauma” has become an essentialized and universalized category in popular and psychiatric discourses of psychological distress. In an effort to further problematize the current psychiatric nosology of traumatic memory linked to childhood trauma, this paper will explore the forms of psychological distress experienced by children exposed to war and violence, and particularly those forms of distress experienced by child soldiers who arguably have experienced not only different forms, but a different magnitude of trauma than seen in the North American context. Through examining the difference in observed and/or experienced psychological distress associated with these different scales and forms of trauma, this paper will problematize current research being conducted by the Canadian Department of National Defence that has attempted to identify childhood trauma, and repressed memory, as being risk factors for post-traumatic stress disorder amongst soldiers. It will be argued that this research focus, and its associated reliance on the concept of psychological resilience, is intended to limit government liability for claims to benefits by soldiers, and can be understood as an engagement in memoro-politics.

Walter Callaghan
PhD student, Medical Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
University of Toronto