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Paper Chase

The physical and psychological sequelae of torture. Symptomatology and diagnosis.

JAMA. May 13, 1988;259(18):2725-9.
Goldfeld AE, Mollica RF, Pesavento BH, Faraone SV.

Infectious Disease Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114.


We present a review of the international literature on the medical and psychological effects of torture. Our review reveals that certain tortures and their physical and emotional sequelae are more prevalent than previously appreciated. They include the common occurrence of sexual violence during the torture of women and female adolescents and the high frequency of head injury and associated neuropsychiatric consequences. We recommend the use of standardized diagnostic criteria in the evaluation of patients who have survived torture; this will facilitate patient care and the documentation of human rights violations.