Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 173–194 | Cite as

Discourses of Loss and Bereavement in Tigray, Ethiopia

  • Dag NordangerEmail author


Western trauma frameworks, such as PTSD-focused inventories and interventions, are embedded in a psychosocial discourse saying that highly distressing experiences must be expressed and confronted. This study, which is based on six months of focused ethnographic research in postwar Tigray, Ethiopia, reveals authoritative Tigrayan discourses that encourage people to avoid disclosing and expressing emotional pain. Dogmas of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, saying that grieving and crying would have negative physical and spiritual consequences, were found to have a broad consensus in the society. The ethnography suggests that the Tigrayan psychosocial discourses make sense and may be functional in their context, as the marginal socioeconomic conditions of Tigray force individuals to concentrate on their day-to-day struggle for survival. Findings are discussed in terms of implications for the cross-cultural applicability of conventional frameworks of Western trauma psychology.


trauma PTSD bereavement culture religion 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Helse Bergen RHFResource Centre for Violence, Traumatic Stress and Suicide Prevention – Western Norway (RVTS West)BergenNorway

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