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Chapter 11 - Memoirs of the Spitak Earthquake

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 May 2022

Armen Goenjian
Affiliation:
David Geffen School of Medicine; UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress
Alan Steinberg
Affiliation:
UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress
Robert Pynoos
Affiliation:
UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress
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Summary

This chapter comprises three segments. The first includes excerpts from Dr. Ida Karayan’s diaries written during her service tours in the earthquake zone. Her diaries detail the daily challenges and rewards of working with children and teachers during the acute aftermath and over time. She offers, with absolute candor, insight into the emotional impact of her work. The poignant stories of Sahak and Gagik are remarkable examples of how a caring and competent therapist can help deep wounds heal. The second segment includes memories of the lead psychotherapist of the Spitak clinic, Ms. Pavagan Petrosyan. Before the earthquake, Ms. Petrosyan was an elementary school principal, living an idyllic life with her family. The earthquake killed her husband and destroyed their house. After a long, tortuous journey to Moscow and Tiblisi, she returned to Spitak and enrolled in the Psychiatric Outreach Program, and went on to become a prominent, sought-after psychotherapist. This is an inspirational story of a survivor who came out of her dark hole to help others in despair. The third segment provides memories of Liana Grigorian, a housewife from Spitak, who was nine years old during the earthquake. She describes her terrifying experiences of the earthquake when she was trapped by a collapsed wall and gives voice to current psychological scars that remain as vestiges from the earthquake.

Type
Chapter
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Lessons Learned in Disaster Mental Health
The Earthquake in Armenia and Beyond
, pp. 179 - 192
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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