Psychosocial consequences of widespread of torture and sociopolitical pressure in Iran

Siroos Mirzaei, Homayoun Alizadeh, Seyed Zeinolabedin Zarei, Thomas Wenzel

Abstract


Violence and political repression in general may have different psychosocial impact on societies. Studying these effects in countries with a high grade of repression based on reliable data from inside the country is difficult or even impossible, mainly due to the very concrete risk for the researcher of being imprisoned or tortured and to the fact that prior permission would usually not be obtained to perform a study on politically sensitive issues. In this manuscript, the authors try to develop a strategy to integrate available data from inside Iran, data on exiled survivors, and of reliable international, especially UN bodies, to investigate the situation in the country, where torture and execution are used frequently and the country has a high corruption index with a ranking of 130/180, as an example for such situations. While some common public mental health problems such as domestic violence might not be indicators of distress caused by persecution or of adverse conditions, their wide spread prevalence might indicate a lack of protection and of basic human rights, especially if taken conjointly with other strategies and data that indicate in this case of the discrimination of women.
The very limited scientific reports from inside Iran point further to a wide range of substantial general mental health problems that might also reflect distress due to general conditions and failure of governmental effort such as a high rate of suicide, a high rate of substance abuse –even in younger individuals. Data on human rights violations, including violence against women, persecution of political activists, up to torture and execution of teenagers are indicators of the sociopolitical situation and a pervasive strategy of repression in Iran in the last decades and must be expected to lead to substantial long term public mental health impact and other problems and create a burden on the Iranian population as a secondary result of repression. The brain drain and persecution or even execution of reliable health care and other professionals must be expected to further take away the resources required to face this long term problems.

Keywords


Iran, mental health, torture, repression, trauma, public health

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