Members of the Institute of Australasian Psychiatrists attended and contributed at the recent stimulating PRCP meeting in Brisbane in 2010. Their topics ranged from neurobiological exploration of Jung's work on word association to the setting up of a centre of Rural Recovery and Rehabilitation in Nitte, India.
The extreme trauma of environmental and social upheaval with manifestations of acute psychoses, and cultural “possession” phenomena were presented and the relevance of the DSM, particularly in non Western settings was debated.
The effects of colonization and dispossession of Indigenous Australians from land and language, exemplified by the British Atomic tests in the remote outback were discussed.
The high rates of suicide, stigma and shame and the mitigating effects of strong family, communities, traditional healers and resilience fostering child rearing were movingly described by remote mental health workers in Indigenous communities.
The overall impressions left by these presentations were of respect for the individual, an openness to understanding the meaning and context of the symptom and commitment to work together with local therapeutic approaches.
Anne Noonan is a psychiatrist and Jungian analyst who works in Sydney and Central Australia.
President, Institute of Australasian Psychiatrists