Dr. Anderson-Fye's presentation of the case of emergent posttraumatic stress symptoms in a Belizean adolescent girl provides a textured ethnographic and clinical account of resilience in the setting of personal and social turbulence. This case describes the identification of, elaboration of, and social response to symptoms generated in the context of traumatic experience in a young adolescent girl. In doing so, it suggests the complex dimensions whereby the transformation of the cultural landscape both results in extraordinary need and presents opportunities for large-scale public health interventions that mobilize community and family-based resources for prevention, education, and enhanced access to care.
Dr. Anderson-Fye notes in her introduction that social and economic changes associated with globalization have been associated with an increase in diagnosed mental illness among adolescents. The social turbulence that frequently accompanies globalization augments the vulnerability of this age group, a group that is not only in the midst of a rather perilous developmental crossing, but that also has limited access to and visibility in health services across many settings.
The case involves an adolescent Belizean girl – Maria, a pseudonym – who eventually receives a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This young adolescent, Maria, participated in a series of ethnographic interviews begun at her school in 1996 when she was 12 years old. She was apparently well-liked, yet socially isolated inasmuch as she described a “loneliness that she felt was unfillable because she had so much to share but felt no one could understand.”
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