Accepted Paper:

War trauma and aftermath: PTSD in Croatian psychiatry  


Goran Dokic

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I explore the effects of the recent introduction of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) into the post-conflict discourse of Croatian psychiatry. In the contested arena of postsocialist transformations the work of Croatian psychiatrists is conditioned by both national and international bureaucratic and corporate structures. The result is a dynamic clinical reality in which medical practitioners reproduce, transform and resist dominant medicolegal narratives about the effective treatment of PTSD.

Paper long abstract:

In recent years Croatian psychiatrists have been faced with a significant increase in the number of reported cases of various types of war-related disorders. PTSD, in particular, is spreading among the population of veterans from Croatia's Homeland War that lasted from 1991 to 1995. Currently, there are over 32,000 individuals diagnosed with the disorder. As a relatively new addition to the postsocialist discourse of Croatian psychiatry, PTSD is a clear example of the process whereby emotional distress is converted into a politicized biomedical entity. Starting with the diagnosis and categorization of the disorder, several stakeholders and discourses are involved, all of which exert influence on the newly emerging conceptualisation and formal systems of support. In the process of reification of emotional suffering individual bodies are given a victimized identity that is now dependent on state provisioning. To explore the effects of this process I am raising the following questions: 1) how is the need for institutional treatment of psychological trauma introduced; 2) how are Croatian war veterans encouraged to communicate their traumatic experiences through the institutional framework of PTSD; 3) how is the conventional narrative about the effective treatment of PTSD reproduced, transformed, and resisted by individual practitioners; and 4) how do postsocialist political and economic conditions and the introduction of the specific classification of PTSD influence the institutional treatment of psychological trauma?

Panel W032
Processing trauma in (post-)conflict societies