Vol. I, No. I.   First Issue - November, 1998




q       Message From the Secretary General

Third International Conference on Working with Traumatized Children and Their Families, University of Missouri International Center for Psychosocial Trauma, July 11/1998 - July 12/1998. / A Report by Dr. M. Farouk EL - SENDIONY:


q       Lessons from Bosnia: "Medicine for 724 Children" / DR. M. Farouk EL-SENDIONY.

q       Section Symposium for the Egyptian Chapter of the World Islamic Association for Mental Health.


q       Dr. Abu Bakr Badahdah's Support for WIAMH:




q       Message From the Secretary General


The International center for psychosocial trauma at the University of Missouri Columbia has pioneered in the field of war traumatized children in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this respect they held three international conferences. The latest and third international conference was held: July 11, 1998 July 12 1998. The central theme was Traumatized children and their Families: Lessons from Bosnia. The congress covered everything concerning the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment and rehabilitation of traumatized children and their families in the post war Bosnia and Herzegovina. The World Islamic Association For Mental Health founded fifteen years ago has sponsored this effort in collaboration with the International Center for Psychosocial Trauma at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

A number of world-renowned mental health workers from Western and Islamic countries have participated to bring this conference to a successful conclusion.

We left having learned much from the congress about the problems and pressures of traumatized children not only in Bosnia but also in other war torn areas like Chechnya, Sri Lanka and Iraq. We also learn much from our contacts about the problems of traumatized children in other troubled areas in the Global Village, The daily Stresses and traumas are beyond the ken of many overseas "experts" and sadly, we see the life of Bosnians, along with the Chechnians, Sri Lankans, Palestinians, Northern Irish, Albanians in Kosova etc. as natural laboratories for the study of stress and trauma disorders, This is no news for the all too experienced professionals who participated in this congress and concurrent Group Workshops, where many important issues were raised and a significant process of co-operative group work began.

Two major themes were emphasized with respect to traumatized children:
1) The Role of Resilience and Hope, and
2) The Role of spirituality in the Management of Overwhelming Trauma.

With respect to the first theme, Professor Arshad Husain was cautiously optimistic. One of the most impressive aspects of his work is his own deep respect, strengthened, instead of diminished after close analysis of traumatized children from Bosnia - Herzegovina, for the capacity of traumatized children to heal even their most inexplicable and terrifying afflictions, themselves. He also argues persuasively that it is not only essential, but also possible, for traumatized children to regain control of their lives.

Dr. Husain found support from His Excellency Dr. Osman Sinnanovic the Minister in Tuzla who presented a paper entitled: "Child War Trauma and Recovery in Bosnia". Dr. Sinnanovic demonstrated that children who received "invisible wounds" because they have endured traumatically disastrous events could be treated (but the earlier, the better).

Concerning the second theme of the conference, we were indeed fortunate for Dr. Godehard Oepen to have had the opportunity to discuss one of the most perplexing paradoxes, the relationship between spirituality and biology. Dr. Godehard Oepen did not only emphasize the role of spirituality in the management of overwhelming trauma but he also analyzed the biological basis of this role. Whether you agreed with him or not, the audience participation reached an all time high.

A special session was devoted for Spirituality and Faith and Mental Health. The central theme was "Islam and Mental Health". {Professors Rashid Chaudhry, Farouk Sendiony and Ahmed Abou El-Azayem gave special emphasis on the Islamic approach to treatment, management, and prevention of traumatized children. Their papers mirrored increasing awareness of the importance of cultural factors in mental health especially as they affect decision about diagnosis and treatment.

Hopefully, these notable mental health workers from Muslim and Western countries, together with other experienced professionals from the World at Large will meet in August 1999 in a Post World Psychiatric Congress in Tuzla. This conference that will follow the World Congress of Psychiatry to be held in August 1999 will identify mental health issues related to psychosocial trauma. In this way mental health professionals will contribute to the building of links which will include Muslims and Westerners in the web of an increasingly peacefully co-operative to address the task of preventing ongoing effects of traumatization from snowballing and affecting generations to come.

Why is this Third International Conference: Working With Traumatized Children and Their Families in Bosnia Important for the whole Global village?

Findings from this International Congress will be very useful and valuable not only for some troubled areas where children are daily traumatized and victimized but also for children in the American inner city as the following study testifies:


q       Lessons from Bosnia: "Medicine for 724 Children" / DR. M. Farouk EL-SENDIONY.

Children have similar stress disorders in Bosnia, the war-torn Kosova, West Bank, Rwanda, Cambodia and Chicago.

Herewith an understated introduction to the practice of pediatrics in the inner city: "The young child's attempts to master the age - appropriate fears of monsters under the bed are severely undermined when the child needs to sleep under the bed to dodge real bullets or attempt to screen out the violent fights of his or her caregivers".

That is from a recent article in The Journal of the American Medical Association, which reported a survey of elementary school-age children in New Orleans: 90 percent had witnessed violence; 70 percent had seen a weapon used; 40 percent had seen a corpse. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of Los Angeles homicides are witnessed by children. And a study at Boston City Hospital found 10 percent of the children treated in the pediatric primary care clinic have witnessed a shooting or stabbing before they are 6.

BCH has been serving Boston since 1864. Today are war conditions, and effects, in many urban neighborhoods. A recent study found similar post - traumatic stress disorders in children in war - torn Mozambique, Cambodia, the West Bank, Kosova and Chicago. The disorders include inability to concentrate, persistent sleep disturbance, flashbacks, sudden startling and hyper vigilance, nihilistic and fatalistic orientation toward the future, leading to increased risk taking. To be a witness to violence is to be a victim of violence.

Small wonder that Boston has its share of what are, known, in the grim argot of today's cities, as "724 children"; children kept at home, indoors, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, because of the epidemic of violence. Some of the fortunate ones come into contact with the doctors and social workers at BCH, a hard-used hospital that gives new meaning to the phrase "family medicine". Children are patients but families, such as they may be, are treated.

BCH's youngest patients often ask why the adults in their lives-parents, teachers, police-can't keep them safe. BCH physicians and social workers regard as a treatable health problem the consequences of traumatically learning at an early age that the world is dangerous and unpredictable. A pervasive sense of danger, according to BCH doctors, causes people to make decisions that seem inexplicable to people more safely situated. For example, some women who are HIV-infected will purposely get pregnant even though there is a 20 to 30 percent risk of having an infected child. Doctors say those do not seem so daunting when considered against odds of being shot, raped, mugged Besides, for the HIV-infected mother, childbirth is an affirmation of normality, of the fact that life goes on. Similarly, for a young inner-city male who sees death before 20 as common on the mean streets, a baby as an heir is an attractive idea.

A child who learns early to fear the world is apt to lose his or her natural proclivity for exploration of the world. A "724 child" may need to be taught how to participate in normal socializing play that other children learn naturally when growing up where civil peace prevails. Because we are apt to parent as we are parented, many unwed mothers or others from the culture of poverty need to be taught and are movingly eager to learn about talking, playing and reading with children. So BCH doctors have given children 9.000 books. Reading together can be therapy for families under the stress of crowding in apartments.

A BCH doctor notes that it is common to hear grandmothers living in poverty say of young children, "They're smart when they're little. They get dumb when they get older". There is a sad wisdom behind this. The children of the poor are apt to be developmentally on a par with middle class children until, say, 2. Then apparent cognitive deterioration, relative to other children actually, failure to attain potential is apt to become noticeable. This is a result of various traumas and emotional and cognitive deprivations, in the withering of or failure to articulate parental expectations. This deterioration is neither necessary nor irreversible, but preventing it requires intense, unremitting one-on one contact whereby a person with the coping skills necessary for flourishing in an urban setting imparts such skills to someone who lacks them. "We know how to do this", says a BCH doctor. "It is fixable. It is just not a quick fix".

Urban prudence: It doubtless seems anomalous, and may be in some ways inefficient, for so many social services to be dispensed through the urban health care system. But an inner city hospital often is, for its poorest patients, the point of entry into the system of services. So BCH's staff find themselves arranging with the employers of patients for time off for hospital visits; dispensing basic nutritional counseling; or encouraging families to talk about everything from goals to heroes; or suggesting strategies of urban prudence.

This last, especially, can be urgent for health: an inner-city person who becomes a victim of violence has a 40 percent chance of becoming a victim again. This is not only because of where he or she lives, but because of an inability to step away from the "bad vibes" of someone else's ugly intent; or because of an inability to get angry which is normal without acting out the anger, action being the articulateness of the streets; or because a victim often looks like a victim. Social workers here say that of the appalling numbers of children carrying weapons to school; most are not aggressive but frightened. (According to a 1990 survey by the Centers for Disease Control, 1 of every 5 high school students had carried a weapon and 1 in 20 had carried a gun in a 30 day period). And many of the aggressive ones have been so desensitized by urban life that they feel alive only when enjoying a "rep" (Reputation), something most quickly acquired by instilling fear.

So BCH's staff and the International Center for Psychosocial Trauma at the University of Missouri - Columbia do a lot that is not, strictly speaking, medicine "But", said one doctor who attended the Third International Conference On Working With Traumatized Children And Their Families, "it's all health", said another, This is not like trauma surgery, where you leap in, stop someone's bleeding and are a hero in an instant". Yes, but what the International Center for Psychosocial Trauma at the University of Missouri-Columbia Did in holding three international conferences on post war Mental Health Issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and holding 4 annual summer intensive training courses in trauma psychology is much more than medicine, and although it dose not deal in instantaneous drama, it has its own heroism. Dr. Arshad Husain and his team are to be commended for their pioneer efforts.

A Special Thank to His Royal Highness:

The World Islamic Association for Mental Health thanks international speakers from Bosnia - Herzegovina, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Chechnya, Russia, Egypt, Pakistan, Rwanda and the Unites States.

A special thank is offered to His Royal Highness, Prince Abd El Azeez Ibn Fahd for Helping in the continuing struggle to cherish and protect the World's Children.

Video Tapes of Conference Paper:

Because of the significance of the findings of the Third International Conference on working with traumatized children and their families for the whole global village, requests have been made for videotapes of conference proceedings. We do hope that Professor Arshad Husain may be able to comply with these requests in the future. We suggest that anyone requiring videotape details of which lectures they require to Dr. Arshad Husain. The charge for each will include the cost of the tape and labor required in its production.

We also do hope that the findings of the present congress be introduced to international community. The proceedings may win more exposure through a Web Site run by the University of Missouri - Columbia.

International Congress On Mental Health to be held at Tuzla 13 - 15th August 1999:

The World Islamic Association for Mental Health will hold its next international conference at Tuzla, 13 - 15th August 1999. It will follow the World Psychiatric Congress held by the World Psychiatric Association. We ask members of the World Islamic Association for Mental Health to suggest themes for this congress, they may write to:

His Excellency:
Osman Sinnanovic, M. D., Ph. D.
Minister of Health,
Tuzla Canton, Tuzla
Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Also write to: Dr. Jaffer Quershi & Dr. Moh. Afzal Javed, Fax. 00- 44 -1203 - 382609.

Some of the themes, which are being suggested, are:

1. Prognosis of traumatized children:
Will they necessarily develop dissociative identity disorders in their future life? How can we prevent this from happening?
2. We also suggest a great need for scientific study to elucidate the transition from individual trauma story to dysfunction of a community:
There is more to this impairment of community life than is explained by the sum of experiences and responses of the individuals composing them. There is a disruption in the fabric of cultural life that cannot be explained by documenting each singular traumatic story. Thus, Post-traumatic Community Impairment is its own entity, defined by the disruption in cultural norms, in the sense of collective past, present and future, and in the very expectation of social order, in communities suffering the trauma of war, deprivation and forced displacement. Did this happen in Bosnia? Some research conducted in Kuwait showed the positive effects of traumatization on the community. The stresses of the Gulf War resulted in more social cohesion.

The key to returning to meaningful community life lies in learning how to repair the frayed community life.

Special Invitations to Attend the International Congress To Be Held at Tuzla, Bosnia, August 13 - 15th, 1999:

Dr. Gamal Mady Abou El-Azayem, the Secretary General of WIAMH will extend a special invitation to Dr. Wolfgang G. Jelek, Chairman of Transcultural Psychiatry Section, World Psychiatric Association to attend next WIAMH congress at Tuzla.

Transcultural psychiatry can benefit from the perspective that Islam provides for the treatment and rehabilitation of traumatized children and their families. A second special invitation will be sent by the secretary general to Dr. Norman Satirious of the World Psychiatric Association.

One can only applaud Dr. Osman Sinnanovic for supporting and accepting to host this International Congress.


q       Section Symposium for the Egyptian Chapter of the World Islamic Association for Mental Health.

Based on the suggestions of the symposium organizers, the theme of the coming program of the monthly symposia for the Association's cultural season (October, 98 - June, 99) will be Science and Religion. The achievements of modern science seem to contradict religion and undermine faith. But for a growing number of scientists, the same discoveries offer support for spirituality and belief in God.

Rather than undercutting faith and a sense of the spirituality, scientific discoveries are offering support for them. Big-Bang cosmology, for instance, once read as leaving no room for a Creator, now implies to Scientists that there is a design and purpose behind the Universe. Charles Townes who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering the principles that underlie laser believes that recent discoveries in cosmology reveal "a universe that fits religious views"
Specifically, that "somehow intelligence must have been involved in the laws of the Universe".
Within this frame of reference the season includes the following lectures, which will be given by top Muslim intellectuals.

Wednesday, October 7: The Concept of Science and its effect on Mental Health Prof. M. Waseem Nassar.

Wednesday, November 4: A Model of Miraculous Science in the Field of Economy. Prof. Refaat El-Awady.

Wednesday Dec. 2, 98: Music and Mental Health. Musician, Abdel Azeem Owaida.

Wednesday January: 6-1999. Our Beautiful Language: Poet - Farouk Shousha.

Wednesday February 3-99. Mental Health and Religious Health. Prof. Souad Saleh.

Wednesday March 3-99. Guidance for Mental Health, Prof. Hamed Zahran.

Wednesday April 1-1999: Thanking God's Blessings and Mental Health: Prof. Aly Mosa.



q       Dr. Abu Bakr Badahdah's Support for WIAMH:

Dr. Abu Bakr Badahdah distinguished himself as a regular fundraiser and financial supporter of WIAMH. He is also an active participant in all international congresses held by WIAMH around the Global Village.

Call for A Board Meeting to Be Held During the Pan-African Congress of Psychiatry - Cairo: 13 - 15 Dec 98

Members of WIAMH board are kindly invited to attend a board meeting during the Pan - African Congress of Psychiatry to be held in Cairo 13-15 Dec. 1998. The agenda includes the following:

1.       Approval of the Agenda.

2.       Approval of the Minutes of the Board Meeting of WIAMH Held on 11-7-1998 at Holiday INN, Columbia, Missouri.

3.       Approval of the Budget.

4.       Discussion of the By-Laws.

5.       Discussion of Program of International Congress to be held at Tuzla 13 - 15 August 1999.