by Dr. Michael S. Garfinkle, Clinical Researcher, Piracy Trauma Study
During the last week of July, I attended the 30th International Congress of Psychology held this year in Cape Town, South Africa. The conference’s theme, “psychology serving humanity,” fit appropriately with my work, examining the effects of piracy for the Seamen’s Church Institute’s (SCI) clinical study.
In a session of the trauma division of the congress, I presented the methodology and major results of the SCI study and conducted a discussion of the next steps needed. In a spirited Q&A following the discussion, conference attendees raised questions about the need to introduce a culture of systematic research in the maritime industry. They also asked about ways to further international cooperation in addressing the plight of seafarers affected by piracy—especially with regard to coordinating psychological interventions for symptoms post-piracy.
A Kenyan psychologist introduced herself immediately after the presentation and told me that she, along with a loose constellation of other mental health professionals in Nairobi, do not feel close enough to the piracy situation to know how best to help—both in terms of logistics and techniques. Later in the week, I had an informal meeting with a group of psychologists who practice in East Africa and Southeast Asia to discuss further dimensions of cultural concerns surrounding assessment and intervention.
SCI will release the major results of the piracy study in a series of publications aimed at various audiences, including the maritime, psychological and scientific communities, beginning in late-August 2012.