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Abstract

This paper is the written counterpart to a presentation given in Ha Noi, Vietnam, May 15, 2008 during the United Nations Day of Vesak 2008 Convention, on the effects of war and healing. The paper introduces the work of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma (HPRT) located in Boston, Massachusetts. It describes the HPRT Global Mission of education and capacity building of health care professionals, international relief workers and policy makers in the area of mental health in nations suffering post-conflict and disaster recovery. In particular the paper discusses the HPRT's unique approach to assisting individuals with severe traumatic histories as seen through the lens of the author's work as a psychopharmacologist with Southeast Asians and a team member of the HPRT in Lynn, Massachusetts, through the Lynn Community Health Center (LCHC). LCHC is a multi-disciplinary outpatient health service clinic located north of Boston, Massachusetts. Many patients who have survived genocide, torture, imprisonment, and war suffer from chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with the sequellae of depression, nightmares, inability to work gainfully, and panic anxiety. Two stories of actual patients (their identifying data protected) are presented to illustrate self-healing and the role of mindfulness, the function of memory in storytelling and recovery, and the value of spirituality, work and altruism in healing.

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