Conflict Nightmares and Trauma in Aceh

Culture Medicine and Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 1.29). 06/2009; 33(2):290-312. DOI: 10.1007/s11013-009-9132-8


In both the Acehnese and Indonesian languages, there is no single lexical term for “nightmare.” And yet findings from a large
field research project in Aceh that examined post traumatic experience during Aceh’s nearly 30-year rebellion against the
Indonesian state and current mental distress revealed a rich variety of dream narratives that connect directly and indirectly
to respondents’ past traumatic experiences. The results reported below suggest that even in a society that has a very different
cultural ideology about dreams, where “nightmares” as such are not considered dreams but rather the work of mischievous spirits
called jin, they are still a significant part of the trauma process. We argue that it is productive to distinguish between
terrifying and repetitive dreams that recreate the traumatic moment and the more ordinary varieties of dreams that Acehnese
reported to their interviewers. Nightmares that refer back to conflict events do not appear as an elaborated feature of trauma
as the condition is understood by people in Aceh, but when asked further about their dreams, respondents who reported symptoms
suggestive of PTSD were more likely to report PTSD-like dreams, memory intrusions that repeat the political violence of the

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Available from: Jesse Hession Grayman, Jan 14, 2015
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    • "Aceh during the whole of the twentieth century was a place of occupation by foreign powers, decades of civil unrest and then, with the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami, one of the worst natural disasters ever recorded. The impacts of chronic trauma, loss and a prolonged absence of M a n u s c r i p t 10 government investment have had lasting impacts on the Acehnese people (Good et al. 2007; Shea et al. 2008; Grayman et al. 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: The paper argues that life stories and histories offer different perspectives on the past, with implications for studying the future. A life is proposed as a form of “social site” (Marston, S.A., J.P. Jones III & K. Woodward 2005, 'Human geography without scale', Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, vol. 30, pp. 416-432.) where the future is met and negotiated. Unlike the broad sweep of historical narrative, a focus on the site of a life can reveal cumulative losses, futures denied and paths not taken. Life stories challenge historical narrative with alternative futures that ‘might-have-been’; they might therefore usefully be added as a more experimental type to Inayatullah’s taxonomy of historical “traces” (Inayatullah, S. 2012, 'Humanity 3000: A comparative analysis of methodological approaches to forecasting the long-term', Foresight, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 401-417). A case study based on a life story from Aceh is used to demonstrate ways in which alternative futures can emerge from life stories and then be acted upon. The paper concludes that the experimental power of life stories as historical traces lies not only in the stories themselves but in the unique event of storytelling and its potentially transformative impact on the teller and listener, and hence the future.
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    • "Yet, does an unpleasant dream of conflict-related loss mean it is not therapeutic—perhaps as part of a psychological working through of loss? In our experience, recollection and recall may be traumatic to those who respond when asked about dreams with stories of recurring and intrusive nightmares that are rarely spoken of—they respond " saya masih trauma " ( " I am still suffering from trauma " ) (Grayman et al., 2009). "

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    • "The people of Aceh have suffered for 29 years of armed conflicts and political violence. In December 2004, a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated the western coast of Aceh, including parts of the capital city of Banda Aceh, whereby about 150,000 people died and a half million relocated in a province with a population of roughly 4.4 million people (Grayman,Good & Good, 2009). The incredible lost sustained by this natural disaster finally consolidated the peace agreement in Aceh. "
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    ABSTRACT: Theory and research have shown that parents have significant influence on their children's social outcome. The present study was therefore conducted to determine the relationship between parenting style and social responsibility of adolescents residing in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. A total of 331 (male =119, female 212) students from four high schools in Banda Aceh were selected using Multistage Cluster sampling. The Indonesian version of Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ) and Social and Personal Responsibility Scale (SPRS) were used to measure parenting style and social responsibility, respectively. Findings showed that authoritarian and permissive parenting styles as significantly associated with improved adolescents' social responsibility. Surprisingly, the study revealed no significant correlation between authoritative parenting style and adolescents' social responsibility. The male adolescents in the study appeared to be more socially responsible than their female counterparts. Inconsistent with the other studies, the current study noted that non-authoritative parenting is positively related to adolescents' social responsibility. Additionally, there may be variation in social responsibility by gender. The implication is discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2012 · Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities
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