International Journal of Mental Health & PsychiatryISSN: 2471-4372

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Concepts of Transgenerational and Genocidal Trauma and the Survivors of ISIS Terror in Yazidi Communities and Treatment Possibilities

After the attack of the terrorist organization ISIS in 2014 and the systematic attempt to destroy the religious group of the Yazidi, the topic of transgenerational, collective and individual trauma has become a focus of attention in regard to this group. Since the Yazidi have been victims of 74 genocidal attempts for more than 800 years, the theory and discussion of group and Transgenerational Trauma models will be important for both research and long term treatment planning. In general, models rest on the assumption that some ethnic and religious groups have in the past been exposed to mass trauma as a result of colonialism, slavery, war and genocide over longer historical periods. Due to collective traumatic experiences, the secondary and subsequent generations have passed on the trauma of their forbears to the following generations and, in doing so, repeatedly transformed it. Being passed down between generations, this traumatic experience is a trauma shared by all members of a group and made up of elements from the past and of the present. Even several generations after the original trauma, an increased level of psychological symptoms have been observed, though mechanisms of impact have not been identified with certainty in spite of numerous proposed models, including, most recently, epigenetic mechanisms. A proper understanding of the way transgenerational trauma can affect the present psychic health of ethnic or religious collectives may help to identify new paths to explore and new insights on how best to provide effective treatment for psychic traumas in groups exposed to repeated and severe violence and persecution. Our article aims at summarizing the different aspects and models of transgenerational transmission of trauma and their potential application to the Yazidi genocide, resulting treatment needs, and propose the category of genocidal environment to describe this and similar situations that are becoming more frequent in spite of comprehensive international human rights standards.

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