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Surviving violent, traumatic loss after severe political persecution: lessons from the evaluation of a Venezuelan asylum seeker
  1. Jennifer H McQuaid1,
  2. Michelle Alejandra Silva2 and
  3. Katherine C McKenzie1,3
  1. 1Department of Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  2. 2Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  3. 3Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jennifer H McQuaid; jmcquaidphd{at}


In July 2019, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released a report urging the Venezuelan government to take immediate action to address the ‘grave violations of economic, social, civil, political and cultural rights’ occurring in the country. This case study highlights the human rights violations occurring in Venezuela through the case of a Venezuelan woman who experienced political persecution and traumatic loss resulting from her opposition to the ruling socialist party. As the clinical team of evaluators explored the mental health effects of surviving threats on her own life and the politically motivated assassination of her husband, it was agreed that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition did not fully capture the extent of her suffering. Case discussion broadens the lens beyond the client’s experiences of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression to include persistent complex bereavement disorder, and emphasises the importance of addressing the sequelae of traumatic loss in a multifaceted way that broadens understanding of emotional functioning postmigration.

  • migration and health
  • psychiatry

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  • Contributors JHM, PhD, helped in conducting the evaluation, analysing data and narrative, writing up initial evaluation for purpose of asylum, conceptualising and planning case study, writing up case material and providing framework, working with fellow author to integrate global health research and information, as well as the patient’s written contribution, editing, submitting. MAS, PsyD, helped in conducting the evaluation, collaborated in analysing data and narrative, conceptualising and planning case study, researching and writing up global health issues related to the case, working with patient to obtain her writeup about her opinion and experience, and providing framework for integration of translated patient material, editing, submitting. KCM provided community linkages and academic departmental structure that facilitates probono asylum clinic, and also helped in conceptualising case, providing mentorship and examples of previous case discussions, editing and guidance on manuscript production.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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