Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Getting to the Root of Suffering: Dialogues with Tibetan Refugee Expolitical Prisoners on What Heals Psychological and Somatic Sequelae of Trauma
by Nickerson, Glynda Lee, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2015, 255; 10822064
Abstract (Summary)

This liberation-psychology study included several years’ immersion in the Tibetan refugee community in Dharamsala, India, where I offered Somatic Experiencing-informed (SE) sessions to exprisoner refugees. During the course of conversations with refugees, this study shifted from an investigation of SE as a trauma-healing intervention to a cross-cultural dialogical approach to the healing of the psychological and physical sequelae of forced displacement, imprisonment, and torture of Tibetan expolitical prisoners. Tibetan refugee expolitical prisoners living in Dharamsala, India, were asked to describe their emotional and somatic sequelae, as well as the alleviated factors and conditions of these sequelae, which stemmed from experiences of political incarceration, loss of homeland, torture, and escape. Purposeful sampling was employed, and 17 participants were observed in a 2-day Freirean-inspired dialogic workshop participant observations in which sequelae and processes of amelioration and responses to the Western SE therapy were identified and recorded. Also, 12 participants were interviewed on their experiences and perceptions of the workshop; 9 of whom volunteered for SE sessions. Data were analyzed by thematic content analysis.

Major findings on emotional distress included loneliness due to separation from friends and families, helplessness to assist other Tibetans, and distress of “non-being” brought on by occupation, displacement, and unofficial refugee status. Physical sequelae were digestive problems, difficulty breathing, pain and tightness, dizziness, weakness, and fatigue. A Buddhist approach was distinguished as a dependable route to mental health and Tibetan Buddhist methods were highlighted as unique in achieving lasting well-being. Community interdependence and preservation of Tibetan Buddhist culture were preferred over individualized approaches to trauma healing. Implications include a potential shift in international trauma fieldwork to a cross-cultural psychological approach.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Watkins, Mary
Commitee: Cane, Patricia, Selig, Jennifer
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 79/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Counseling Psychology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Cross-cultural psychotherapy, Healing trauma, Somatic experiencing, Tibetan buddhism, Tibetan refugee political prisoners, Torture survivors
Publication Number: 10822064
ISBN: 978-0-355-94548-5
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