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Wars, global conflicts, worldwide terrorism are some common terminologies that are now heard everywhere in the world. It seems to be a public phenomenon

Yemen Conflict: A Psychological Perspective

The immediate and long term costs of war

Wars, global conflicts, worldwide terrorism are some common terminologies that are now heard everywhere in the world. It seems to be a public phenomenon these days spreading terror and chaos amongst the entire populace of the world. After the Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Palestine wars, Yemen is currently under attack, causing disturbance not only in the country itself, but in the wider Middle East region also.

War and terrorism are man perpetrated acts of violence, that vary along a number of dimensions such as the diversity of the war-related traumatic stressors, the zone of impact (single site or multiple sites), frequency and duration of exposure (single or multiple events) and their effects on family, social and community infrastructure as well as life sustaining variables such as access to food, water, shelter, and protection from disease.

The history of Yemen’s conflict goes back more than a decade and started in 1994 when a Sunni group took over the government, depriving the Zaidi sect of their share in government. The conflict was further sparked in 2004, and since then the state of affairs has worsened. Saudi Arabia, being the invader this time, is trying its level best to eradicate all the remnants of the Zaidi clan, creating trepidation amongst the Yemeni people.

The impact of war-related stressors may occur as the direct result of physical and visual impact, media exposure, or through the various forms of interpersonal experiences

The impact of war-related stressors may occur as the direct result of physical and visual impact, media exposure, or through the various forms of interpersonal experiences. The wounding and killing of loved ones, the brutal rape and torture of innocent victims, malnutrition, starvation, disease and emotional contagion, social disruption and the loss of peer related experiences, routinised family, school and community life. In some instances children may be kidnapped and forced to participate as child warriors in violent acts under the threat of losing their own lives.

The psychological effect of combat is a concept which encompasses a wide variety of processes and negative impacts, all of which must be taken into consideration in any assessment of the immediate and long term costs of war. This entry will address the wide-spectrum psychological effects of combat, to include: psychiatric casualties suffered during combat, physiological arousal and fear, the physiology of close combat, the price of killing, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Analysing these circumstances, it is apparent that a civil and sectarian war in nature has created enough glitches for the Yemeni population living in those critical conditions, making them vulnerable to many social and psychological problems. War results in a lot of people becoming refugees. Often children get separated from their parents in the process for various reasons like their father going to serve in the army, death of parents in war, or just evacuation from an area as a part of war-time emergency. The psychological effects of displacement and separation is disturbing for individuals of any age, be it children or adults. Similarly, it is not uncommon in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine and now Yemen for individuals to witness a lot of death and destruction from modern day heavy machinery and weaponry of war. Seeing death in front of one’s eyes at an early age especially if it is of a close one or a parent can be majorly traumatic.

A few exclusive studies around the world on the psychological effects of injury have been conducted and noted that a lot of effects depend on the post war treatments. Most of the individuals waste their lives and then suffer from long term psychological effects such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, suicidal ideation, various emotional and behavioural disorders and disruptions in stress response system.

The problem with psychological after-life of wars is that they fall through cracks of more pressing wartime concerns. It is only after the dust settles and physical injuries begin to heal that psychological ones surface in their entirety. It is in part due to this delay and temporal disharmony that raising the issue of long-term psychological aftermath of sustained and perpetual military interventions has sadly been sidelined in policymaking and analysis.

Wars change a society’s relationship with the future. War conditions create memories and wounds that outlive the wars themselves

Appreciating the psychological impact of war on civilians is important because wars change a society’s relationship with the future. War conditions create memories and wounds that outlive the wars themselves. Their imageries and echoes persist arts, economics, politics, and private lives through multiple generations. They generate corrosive memories that take decades to grind through. But they also resonate, belatedly, in higher rates of physical and mental illness. They create social and psychological conditions that are often obscured in the way we write history. The point is that these complexities integrate into collective memory, and weave into everyday relationships, generational identification, cultural forms, and expressions of nationalism.

At the most basic level, there is a pressing need to integrate psychological and psychiatric care into post-war plans. The question of mental health is not solely a question of individual treatment; the clinical tool of psychiatry cannot single-handedly respond to social discord brought on by war. Even if health policy insists on operating within a so-called PTSD framework, there is need for a broader acceptance of its collective and generational manifestations. The PTSD paradigm in its clinical and therapeutic sense aspires to forget, to rid of excess and painful memory. The internalised, normalised, and assimilated memories of war will come back, slowly, in pieces and bursts. Not only will they affect individual lives, but they will also shape how a society feels toward, holds accountable, and relates to the world around it.

Hence, the Yemen war will definitely have negative after-effects and the international community should be concerned with the wellbeing of people, and must attend to internalised anxieties and memories of individuals in post-war societies, not just now, but for decades to come.

Source: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2015/05/09/comment/yemen-conflict-a-psychological-perspective/

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