On the interrupted development of Palestinian minors in prison

Dr. Samah Jabr, psychiatrist and psychotherapist, on Middle East MOnitor:

“[…] As a clinician, I am often confronted with adolescents whose social and psychological growth has been suspended by experiences of political detention. I observe that many such youths have become anxious and depressed following this experience, whereas others manifest stoicism and fail to express any emotion.

[…] Adolescence everywhere is characterised by an accelerated movement towards social independence and identity formation, as well as by emotional liability and impulsive behaviour. However, the context of the occupation makes the risks greater and the consequences heavier for Palestinian adolescents. Some youngsters find the dangers inherent to resistance to be more exciting than a passive surrender to oppression. Such young people empathise and identify with the suffering of the community as a group and seek to establish a special status for themselves by acting on its behalf.

A feeling of ineffectiveness often seeps into clinicians who treat these youngsters. The psychological consequences of minors’ arrest do not lend themselves to diagnostic labelling, pathologising and medicalising. These youngsters require us to act as witnesses, to join them in solidarity and to accompany them and their families in the exploration of the meaning of experience. It is our goal to help them reprocess this meaning, and to integrate it into their current life and in their plans for the future.


Source: Arrested adolescence: on the interrupted development of Palestinian minors in prison

AdolescentsArrestsEast JerusalemSamah Jabr