What Palestinians experience goes beyond the PTSD label

Elderly people in Palestine remember, with a sense of irony, the charitable parcels of clothing they received when they became refugees in 1948, as well-intentioned Westerners sent neckties, short trousers and berets to dress a population that had previously worn traditional Palestinian outfits. The new Western garments suddenly appeared on the backs of the local populace, with distinctly amusing results.
 
This is how the Palestinian experience of psychological morbidity looks when it is forced into ready-to-wear Western categories, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – the most commonly reported psychiatric disorder among Palestinians. Journalists are fond of reporting on a high prevalence of mental health problems in Palestine to dramatise the impacts of our political reality, sometimes over-generalising a study with limited scope so that it appears to apply to the entire population. Other times, they misinterpret epidemiological data or fail to differentiate between a symptom and a full diagnosis.
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