The systematical disappearance of people during wars and conflicts is a frequent phenomenon. Oftentimes, their destinies cannot be resolved for years – in most of the cases never.
This insecurity often generates a state between hope and hopelessness within the relatives. They struggle with the anticipation of the person’s return on the one hand and the certainty of their loss on the other hand. This inner conflict can lead to serious negative consequences for the affected people’s mental health in the long term. Those consequences manifest in somatic stress symptoms as well as in prolonged grief reactions and depression.
Even though the people’s disappearance goes along with far-reaching consequences on both an emotional and a juridical level for the bereaved, the empirical data regarding the mental effects of the unsolved losses is limited. It lacks of knowledge of the effects of the people’s disappearances on the relative’s mental health as well as of findings regarding factors that influence their health positively or negatively.
We focus on the investigation of the mental health of the relatives of the disappeared people. Particularly, the following questions are targeted:
The superordinate goal is to gain knowledge of the factors that favor or prevent the development of stress symptoms particularly in the relative’s of the disappeared people.
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Heeke, C., Stammel, N., & Knaevelsrud, C. (2015). When hope and grief intersect: Rates and risks of prolonged grief disorder among bereaved individuals and relatives of disappeared persons in Colombia. Journal of Affective Disorders, 173(0), 59-64. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2014.10.038
Stammel, N., Heeke, C., Bockers, E., Chhim, S., Taing, S., Wagner, B., & Knaevelsrud, C. (2013). Prolonged grief disorder three decades post loss in survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. Journal of Affective Disorders, 144(1-2), 87-93. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2012.05.063