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Chapter Seven: Working with Unaccompanied Minors, Trafficked Children, and Child Soldiers

Aida Alayarian Karnac Books ePub

In this chapter I discuss working with unaccompanied minors, trafficked children, child soldiers, and children of refugees and their families. Here, I aim to give an idea of what is faced by children of refugees, the necessary and frivolousness need for therapy by outlining the stories of four such children as illustrative examples of the varied and extreme experiences endured by an individual child.

Unaccompanied minors

A large number of children of refugees are unaccompanied minors who are left facing the struggles of building a future alone. These brief vignettes illustrate the importance and necessity of their access to therapy.


Aran was seven-year-old boy during initial stages of ethnic cleansing in his country. The police in his village (from the majority ethnic group) had a station next to the village football pitch. Shooting the ball while the children were playing became a favourite pastime, followed by beatings of any child who protested.

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CHAPTER TWO: Silence, denial, and trauma

Aida Alayarian Karnac Books ePub

“Man is born as a freak of nature, being within nature and yet transcending it. He has to find principles of action and decision making which replace the principles of instincts. He has to have a frame of orientation which permits him to organize a consistent picture of the world as a condition for consistent actions. He has to fight not only against the dangers of dying, starving, and being hurt, but also against another anger which is specifically human: that of becoming insane. In other words, he has to protect himself not only against the danger of losing his life but also against the danger of losing his mind”

(Fromm, 1968, p. 61)

Although the recollection of the historical reality of killing innocents does not follow a straight or continuous path or the erosion of memory, the Armenian genocide does help us to understand many of the conditions for such acts and the relations between war, ethnic cleansing, persecutions, torture, and, indeed, genocide.

By and large, successive Turkish governments, with their academic arguments of denial of genocide, refuse to accept the fact that genocide is applicable to the events. They theorized the genocide as being an unfortunate event and purely circumstantial.

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Chapter Three: Anxiety, Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress, and Dissociation

Aida Alayarian Karnac Books ePub

In this chapter I focus on anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.


Anxiety is a warning signal that may present in the form of overwhelming emotions and feelings which give rise to a sense of unmanageable helplessness. In it, the threat may be perceived as arising from either external or internal sources and be the conscious response to a variety of powerful fantasies in the unconscious mind.

Anxiety's physical symptoms include butterflies in the stomach, a pounding heart, unpleasant sensations or a persistent sense of unease. Anxiety is certainly not just a product of irrational fears. If we look at the cases of anxiety in people that have encountered traumatic events, it is clear to see that their anxiety is often justified and in many cases it is existential. Some of the existential causes of anxiety in refugee and asylum seekers include: being in a new culture, struggling with a new language, not knowing what to do, not knowing the Home Office decision about immigration matters. Some of these are enough to make anyone anxious—in fact I would be more concerned if patients in such circumstances did not present anxiety. This type of anxiety is a normal reaction to a pressured and abnormal situation. Although individual fears may appear irrational, it is easy to see that the base of that fear is perfectly normal, rational, and to be expected.

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APPENDIX II: United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

Aida Alayarian Karnac Books ePub

Adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948.

See http://www.hrweb.org/legal/genocide.html

The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The following acts shall be punishable:

(a) Genocide;

(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;

(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;

(d) Attempt to commit genocide;

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CHAPTER NINE: Case one: Farina

Aida Alayarian Karnac Books ePub

Clinical data presented here is a fraction of four years’ therapeutic encounter with a patient whom I call Farina, who had made satisfactory progress. Farina is from Middle-East, in her thirties, and the single parent of two children. She referred herself for therapy. This ability to seek help presaged the likelihood of some resilient quality. The presentation of her case provides clinical data and details of the technical treatment of a resilient patient, whose psychopathology led her to alternate between relatively stable defences and a tendency for masochistic aggression. Central to the psychoanalytic approach is the exploration of interpersonal processes, with attention paid to underlying unconscious activity; our interplay in the transference–countertransference is the core of our therapeutic work. At the start, my principal objective was to assess the importance of Farina’s experience of external trauma, its intensity, her age at its occurrence, her level of resilience, and these concepts: her sense of her self, her psychic space, her ability, or lack of it, for healthy dissociations, and using me as her listening other in transference. Referring herself, and specifically asking for psychoanalytic treatment, confirmed her ability to seek a listening other. Data gathered in the process also focused on measuring her social function, her capacity to relate, and her object relationship in transference.

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