April 2011
Psychological Consequences of Torture and Persecution, Sequels of War and Trauma Symposium XXIV

20th World Congress of World Social Psychiatry Association
23-27 October 2010, Marrakech, Morocco

Symposium Chair: Dr. Lilla Hárdi, Cordelia Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims, Hungary

It was my good fortune and priviledge to participate in this very exciting World Congress last October in Marrakech. Its scientific programme was sponsored by the World Psychiatric Association and the Congress was superbly organized under the chairmanship of Prof. Driss Missaoui and Vice-chairmanship of Dr. Nadia Kadri, and under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohamed VI of Morocco.

The thematic highlights were: Research, Education, Treatment Services, Advocacy and Policy. Special topics were: A Basic Health Care Package for all Citizens; How to Diminish Shame, Stigma and Discrimination regarding Mental Illness; Equity in Health Care Systems; HIV/AIDS, Depression and Psychosis; Depression and Cardiovascular Diseases; and Child Soldiers: Health and Mental Health Consequences. There was as well a very appealing Poster Section. This international conference on Social Psychiatry had many other interesting aspects in terms of new research areas, social psychiatric services in traditional and innovative therapeutic units and models, religious and educational issues.

Being the chair of the World Psychiatric Association Section on Psychological Consequences of Torture and Persecution, with Dr. Thomas Wenzel as the past Chair of our Section, we welcomed the idea of Dr. Federico Allodi, Secretary of the Section, of organizing a Symposium in Marrakech while taking the opportunity of holding a Business Meeting of our Section.

As stated above the title of our symposium on 24 October was “The Sequelae of War and Trauma”. There were four presentations accepted by the Scientific Committee which included those by Dr. Thomas Wenzel and his working group, by Dr. Lejla Cakovic, and by Dr. Jim Jaranson. Unfortunately, for private or financial reasons it was only Lilla Hárdi who was able to present her paper. The presentation focused on the long-term impact of war and extreme social violence. It demonstrated the epidemiology, documentation, monitoring and treatment approaches based on a comprehensive social psychiatric understanding of the complex factors involved in trauma and recovery. War and violence, such as torture, can be seen as major international problems in public health in large population groups, including also the impact on family members and secondary victims. The presentation was followed by a vivid discussion on the special working methods of Cordelia Foundation (Hungary), and other rehabilitation units all over the world. Federico Allodi participated actively, as there were many questions and remarks in reference to the different rehabilitation methods.

Subsequent to the symposium some of the 28 attendants remained for our Section Business Meeting as previously announced. The Chair and Dr. Allodi introduced themselves emphasizing the Section’s activity fully integrated within WPA. The agenda reviewed the past year’s Section’s main developments and the objectives and organizational structure of our Section. We outlined the importance of our collaboration with International Rehabilitation Council for Victims of Torture (IRCT) and other professional organizations of akin objectives and good standing. The Chair invited those present to apply for membership as new section members. Six individuals expressed their willingness to receive further information and gave their addresses and emails.
Marrakesh turned out to be is a fabulous place for speaking and thinking about mental and psychological issues in social contexts. The hosting colleagues were extremely kind. Promising relationships were born with local and international psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers.

Lilla Hárdi
Chair, WPA Section on Psychological Consequences of Torture and Persecution




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