Windspeaker: Residential School, Holocaust Effects Similar

Craven, Jim jcraven at SPAMclark.edu
Tue Jun 19 16:55:21 MDT 2001




>
> Residential school, holocaust effects similar
>
http://www.ammsa.com/windspeaker/WINDNEWSJULY2000.html#anchor1271227
>                     By Paul Barnsley
>                     Windspeaker Staff Writer
>                     MONTREAL
>
>                     The psychiatric profession seems to
> be coming to some
> dramatic
>                     conclusions as it attempts to deal
> with mental health
> issues in Indigenous
>                     communities.
>
>                     Three days of discussion at
> Montreal's Jewish General
> Hospital, sponsored
>                     by McGill University's Institute of
> Community and Family
> Psychiatry,
>                     revealed that mainstream medical
> practitioners are
> realizing they're going to
>                     have to confront the painful
> realities of colonial
> history before they can
>                     begin to effectively treat Indigenous
> people and
> communities.
>
>                     Psychiatric practitioners and
> professors from across
> Canada and around
>                     the world spoke at the conference.
>
>                     Moderator Lawrence Kirmayer, the
> director of the social
> and transcultural
>                     psychiatry division at McGill
> University's medical
> school, pointed out that
>                     statistical studies have shown that
> Indigenous
> communities have lower rates
>                     of psychiatric problems when they
> control their own
> government functions -
>                     the more control, the lower the rate
> of suffering.
>
>                     The most contentious presentation was
> made by an
> Australian professor
>                     who has studied health problems in
> Indigenous people in
> his country.
>
>                     Professor Ernest Hunter, a
> psychiatrist who is professor
> of public health
>                     (mental health) in the department of
> social and
> preventive medicine at the
>                     University of Queensland has studied
> the behavior of
> medical professionals
>                     during the Nazi years. He looked at
> physicians who
> collaborated with the
>                     Nazis as well as those who were
> victims and those who
> were in a position
>                     to speak up against the medical
> experimentation and the
> death camps but
>                     chose not to.
>
>                     Having also studied mental health
> problems in Indigenous
> communities in
>                     Australia, he has seen similarities
> between the mental
> suffering of
>                     Indigenous people and holocaust
> victims.
>
>                     As he delivered his paper - . . . the
> deep sleep of
> forgetfulness: Reflecting
>                     on Disremembering - to a lecture hall
> filled close to
> capacity with his peers,
>                     Hunter felt the need to explain why
> he was making that
> comparison.
>
>                     "To consider the holocaust and the
> experiences of
> Australia's Indigenous
>                     population in the same study seemed
> reckless. Well,
> that's how I felt in
>                     1991 after returning from Yad Va-Shem
> (holocaust
> memorial) in Jerusalem
>                     where I'd been studying medical
> professionals as
> perpetrators during the
>                     Nazi years and where I'd begun to
> consider the
> relationship between
>                     doctors and Indigenous Australians,"
> he said. "At that
> time I felt that
>                     associating these issues was unfair
> and unlikely to gain
> a sympathetic
>                     hearing amongst my medical peers.
> Well, that proved to
> be true; sensitivity
>                     was very close to the surface. In
> this paper I return to
> the original project -
>                     to consider medical professionals as
> perpetrators,
> bystanders and victims of
>                     the trauma of the holocaust and
> colonization. I argue
> that this history is
>                     critical to understanding the social
> and political
> context of professional work
>                     with these traumatized populations,
> and that to not do
> so may lead to
>                     complicity in rationalizing and
> trivializing the harm
> done."
>
>






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