A psychiatric model of traumatization has informed most research in psychology on the effects of human rights violations, including political torture, in South Africa. This article highlights some of the limitations of a hegemonic psychiatric approach to conceptualizing current sequelae of abuse experienced by political detainees during the apartheid era. It calls attention to the relevance of the South African social and political context in which survivors are located, methodological problems that characterize psychological research on trauma in South Africa and other developing countries, and the relevance of the meaning that survivors may attribute to their experience of detention and torture.
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