12 January 2011 was the tragic first anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti in which over 250,000 people died, 320,000 were physically injured and over one million were left homeless. Officially the Haitian police (protection civile) recorded over 1.5 million victims who had to learn to live again afterwards, in one of the world’s poorest countries. Haiti is characterized by the sad tradition of resourcefulness needed to survive in a context of endemic poverty that only the economic infrastructure seems to have held together until the earthquake.
Behind these cold, dehumanized statistics, women, men and children whose precarious mental balance has been profoundly affected, present a clinical picture of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD*). In 2008, Canadian psychiatrist Nicole Desrosiers Carré pointed out the symptomatic manifestations of PTSD strongly present in this country of prevailing, permanent insecurity. Some Haitian psychologists consider that 90% of the population has been affected by the phenomenon since 12 January 2010. In the documentary “La blessure de l’âme” (“Wounded soul”) by Cécile Allegra and Raoul Seigneur, former Haitian Prime-Minister Michelle Pierre considers trauma from the perspective of the country’s history: dictatorship, persecutions, deprivation, recurrent natural disasters… “… Haitians are a people with multiple trauma and the psychiatric emergency is one of the most serious the world has ever known…” she says.
Based on their sound experience as energy therapy and especially EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) practitioners, and on the clinical experience of their peers in populations confronted with traumatic events, the EPSYSF therapists decided to offer Haitians help by providing free training in EFT for 275 fieldworkers, in ten regions of Haiti.
The clinical definition of a traumatic experience refers to an isolated or repeated traumatic event that threatened the subject’s physical integrity and involved the notions of surprise, the accidental, and the unimaginable. Such events typically trigger horror, intense fear and a feeling of powerlessness.