A study conducted by the researchers of a University of Otago has raised skepticism about the power of "truth-telling", which is employed to help alleviating the pain of psychological injuries and establishing harmony among the countries reviving out of civil war.
Dr. Karen Brounus, study’s lead author said, "This study suggests that witnessing may have a worsening effect on post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression because of the nature of witnessing in truth-telling procedures”.
She is of the view that readdressing the stressful events aggravates the mental pain, rather than relieving it.
The study, which was conducted in 2006, appeared in the prestigious international Journal of Conflict Resolution. It involved 1200 Rwandan survivors, gacaca judges and neighbors from East, South, West and Kigali Provinces, the areas affected gravely by the 1994 genocide.
The truth and reconciliation process were started by setting up the gacaca courts in 2002 involving nine judges that try to establish justice, unity and reconciliation between the conflicting countries.
The participants in the study were interviewed about their background, encounter with traumatic events during the genocide and depression and PTSD’s symptoms.
The presence of PTSD was found in 51% of the survivors and 60% had suffered depression. The gacaca witnesses were over 50% more likely to get affected with depression, as compared to the non-witnesses. The risk for the occurrence of PTSD was 36%.
But, Dr. Brounus applauded the truth-telling for spreading awareness regarding the need of justice and truth in society.
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