Life after armed group involvement in Nepal: a clinical ethnography of psychological well-being of former 'child soldiers' over time

Medeiros, Emilie, Shrestha, Prabin, Gaire, Himal and Orr, David M R (2019) Life after armed group involvement in Nepal: a clinical ethnography of psychological well-being of former 'child soldiers' over time. Transcultural Psychiatry. ISSN 1363-4615

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Little is known about the longitudinal effects of early age involvement of young people in armed groups and their well-being as they return to strongly affected, politicised communities. Current research and policy are often driven by the assumption of a causal relationship between participation in this war experience and psychological damage. This article explores the role of young people’s armed group experience during the Nepal People’s War, compared with post-conflict stressors, in shaping intra-psychic impact and distress, and which processes enable well-being and resilient functioning. Findings are reported from an 18-month clinical ethnography of a cohort of 17 Nepalese young subjects, where participant-observation methods were used to explore their daily lives after exiting the armed group and follow-up research conducted six years later. The findings highlighted limited evidence for on-going intra-psychic impact and distress related directly to their armed group experience; when such distress occurred, it appeared to be generated more by the structural violence of their environments. The key constituents determining their well-being included: a sense of closeness through emotional connectedness with their family, ideological proximity with the values of the armed group, closeness in their bond with the community, and the social-emotional-economic capital available to them to navigate the harsh structural constraints of post-conflict life. These data further challenge the prevailing assumption that this war experience inevitably leads to psychological damage, and the article argues that structural violence often plays a predominant role in cases where psychological distress does arise.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Social Work and Social Care
Subjects: L Education
Depositing User: Deeptima Massey
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2018 15:42
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2019 12:30

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