Book Review: CARING FOR VICTIMS OF TORTURE edited by James M. Jaranson and Michael K. Popkin. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, Inc., 1998. xxii + 251 pp.

Abstract

This book offers an interesting review of psychological issues related to torture, including the history, politics, and ethics of its use; physical and emotional sequelae; and assessment and treatment interventions. Written by leaders in the field, the book is intended for a clinical audience but would be useful to any professionals working with torture victims, to those engaged in work with victims of other manmade trauma, and to torture victims themselves. The book consists of 14 chapters divided according to content and with multiple authors. There is considerable duplication as authors of individual chapters address similar issues, sometimes from a different focus. For example, historical, political, and ethical issues are interspersed throughout. The book is thoughtful and uses history and clinical data to support conclusions. Reference material is current. The first section provides important introductory material on the history of the use of torture, the events and experiences that led to the documentation of its practice, and the rationale behind its use. Definitions and a description of the tension between the science and politics associated with torture provide useful background. Chapters describing emotional and physical sequelae, categories of victimization, and assessment and treatment present rich clinical material. While not yet established, authors promise that future research will elucidate differences between a posttorture syndrome and posttraumatic stress disorder. An overview of various treatment modalities and a discussion of issues raised in treatment, such as counter-transference and ethical concerns, are presented. The last section of the book raises issues related to particular kinds of torture: forced disappearance, work in the Philippines, and work with Bosnian refugees. There are throughout distressing observations about the complicity of physicians in practices of torture. A chapter describing doctors at risk and the precautions that may prevent their involvement is most insightful. The reader is left with an appreciation of multiple issues. These include the attempts of perpetrators to disguise the effects of torture, the historical difficulty documenting torture, the emotional and physical sequelae and their assessment and treatment, ethical implications including the complicity of the medical professions, and political implications.

DOI: 10.1023/A:1002769901089

Cite this paper

@article{Pfefferbaum2004BookRC, title={Book Review: CARING FOR VICTIMS OF TORTURE edited by James M. Jaranson and Michael K. Popkin. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, Inc., 1998. xxii + 251 pp.}, author={Betty J Pfefferbaum}, journal={Community Mental Health Journal}, year={2004}, volume={37}, pages={189-189} }