Article

Neuropsychological issues in the assessment of refugees and victims of mass violence.

Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel-Deaconess Hospital-East Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.
Neuropsychology Review (Impact Factor: 5.4). 10/2001; 11(3):131-41. DOI: 10.1023/A:1016650623996
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Brain injury, stressor severity, depression, premorbid vulnerabilities, and PTSD are frequently intertwined in trauma populations. This interaction is further complicated when the neuropsychologist evaluates refugees from other cultures. In addition, the observed psychiatric symptoms reported in refugees and victims of mass violence may in fact not be the primary features of PTSD and depression but psychiatric symptoms secondary to the effects of traumatic brain injury. This paper reviews the occurrence of starvation, torture, beatings, imprisonment, and other head injury experiences in refugee and POW populations to alert treators to the presence of chronic and persistent neuropsychiatric morbidity, with implications for psychosocial adjustment. The concept of fixed neural loss may also interact with environmental and emotional stresses, and a model of neuropsychological abnormalities triggered by traumatic events and influenced by subsequent stress will also be considered. Neuropsychologists working with refugees play an important role in assessing the possibility of traumatic brain injury with tools that are relatively culture-fair.

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