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When the foundations of life have been upset... An integrated clinical and experimental study with refugees an asylum seekers

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Author(s): Schiltz, Lony | Schiltz, Jang

Journal: Archives of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
ISSN 1509-2046

Volume: 15;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 53;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: arts psychotherapies | complex post traumatic states | expressive tests | integrated quantitative and qualitative research methodology | non parametric statistical procedures | rating scales

ABSTRACT
Aim Recent research results in clinical psychology, health psychology and neurobiology underline the relationship between dissociative states, complex posttraumatic syndromes and borderline functioning [11]. Our study is meant to investigate the traumatic hypothesis of borderline functioning and to develop appropriate psychotherapeutic measures based on artistic mediations.Material and Methods.To estimate the effect of traumatic events, from the beginning of life up to recent stressors, linked to natural catastrophes, war, political persecution and migration, we undertook an integrated clinical and experimental study with a sample of 73 refugees and asylum seekers. In a second stage, those who suffered from PTSD or complex post-traumatic states were offered to attend arts psychotherapeutic sessions.To investigate the personality functioning at the structural level, we used a mixed quantitative and qualitative methodology, combining a semi-structured biographical interview, a projective test, i.e. the Sentences Completion Test, for which we developed a new manner of interpretation, and psychometric scales, i.e. the HADS and the Index of Wellbeing . Furthermore, we analysed the artistic production (pictures, stories written under musical induction) with the help of rating scales constructed in the phenomenological and structural tradition.Results. With the help of non parametric multidimensional statistics, we extracted two profiles of personality functioning, linked either to repeated breaks, negligence and maltreatment from the beginningof life, or either to a recent external catastrophe, interrupting a continuous life course. Through the evaluation of the arts therapeutic sessions, we could note the first signs of resumption of the blocked process of subjectivation.Discussion.The results of the study support the traumatogenic hypothesis of borderline functioning, as well as current clinical considerations concerning the defensive role of dissociation in complex posttraumatic states.Conclusion. The study opens tracks for future research concerning an in depth investigation of the arts therapeutic process with traumatized people.
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