Examining the discourse of mental health workers in Iraq: A Lacanian approach to social trauma in clinical supervision

Yaka , Ali İhsan
Critiques to the DSM’s medicalization of psychological trauma reveal the necessity for an analytic conceptualization, particularly in conflictual regions like the Middle East. This study first examines social trauma conceptualization among the local mental health workers in post-genocidal Iraq, specifically after the Êzidî genocide, through Lacanian-guided supervisions conducted remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic from May 2020 to March 2021. Second, the research evaluates benefits and barriers of introducing a Lacanian-guided supervision approach, transcending traditional diagnostics, to psychosocial intervention work for social trauma in conflictual regions. Four individuals have been selected for the research from among approximately thirteen local mental health workers actively providing psychosocial services in the field, specifically for the survivors of the Êzidî genocide in Iraq. These individuals regularly participated in clinical supervisions and trainings throughout the project. Case presentations of these four individuals during their initial and concluding clinical supervision sessions were analyzed through the lens of Lacanian discourse analysis. After analyzing case presentations, common structural themes were identified for both sessions. Subsequently, two sub-themes, case conceptualization and subjective position, under each structural theme were examined and compared across the initial and final analyses. The identified structural themes included subjectivity, sexuality, trauma, and knowledge. The results underwent thorough comparative analysis and were discussed in the relevant academic literature. The findings generally indicate that mental health workers, in the initial analyses, presented case narratives with a focus on symptoms. However, following Lacanian-based clinical supervisions, they transitioned to a more detailed exploration of subjective experiences in the final analyses.
Citation Formats
A. İ. Yaka, “Examining the discourse of mental health workers in Iraq: A Lacanian approach to social trauma in clinical supervision,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2024.