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. 2010 Jun;34(2):244-78.
doi: 10.1007/s11013-010-9174-y.

Khyâl Attacks: A Key Idiom of Distress Among Traumatized Cambodia Refugees


Khyâl Attacks: A Key Idiom of Distress Among Traumatized Cambodia Refugees

Devon E Hinton et al. Cult Med Psychiatry. .


Traumatized Cambodian refugees with PTSD often complain of khyâl attacks. The current study investigates khyâl attacks from multiple perspectives and examines the validity of a model of how khyâl attacks are generated. The study found that khyâl attacks had commonly been experienced in the previous 4 weeks and that their severity was strongly correlated with the severity of PTSD (PTSD Checklist). It was found that khyâl attacks were triggered by various processes--such as worry, trauma recall, standing up, going to a mall--and that khyâl attacks almost always met panic attack criteria. It was also found that during a khyâl attack there was great fear that death might occur from bodily dysfunction. It was likewise found that a complex nosology of khyâl attacks exists that rates the attacks on a scale of severity, that the severity determines how the khyâl attacks should be treated and that those treatments are often complex. As illustrated by the article, khyâl attacks constitute a key aspect of trauma ontology in this group, a culturally specific experiencing of anxiety and trauma-related disorder. The article also contributes to the study of trauma somatics, that is, to the study of how trauma results in specific symptoms in a specific cultural context, showing that a key part of the trauma-somatic reticulum is often a cultural syndrome.

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