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How Treating Trauma in Refugees Has Evolved

Dr. Richard Mollica, the director of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma at Massachusetts General Hospital, has spent the last three decades working with refugees. This week, he was in Pittsburgh for a conference and sat down to speak about refugees and trauma with 90.5 WESA’s Erika Beras. This is part of the interview.

On how the work he has done has changed since the early '80s:

“We began seeing the refugees from Southeast Asia in primary health care in December of 1981. And we had no financial support, we had no idea what we were doing, we just started, we thought it was important to see all of these newly arrived people coming in. In 1981 in the medical profession, no one had ever heard of the diagnosis of PTSD; it didn’t exist. The word torture, it was not known, we didn’t know anything about torture. When I was at Yale, I had had one lecture in five years on rape trauma, one five-hour lecture. That was it, at Yale Medical School. We didn’t know how to diagnosis people with mental health problems from other cultures. We didn’t know what mental health problems look like in other cultures."

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