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

Cheryl S. Weinstein, Robert Fucetola, Richard Mollica

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-141
Number of pages11
JournalNeuropsychology Review
Volume11
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

Keywords

  • Mass violence
  • Neuropsychology refugees/victims

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