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Last Updated: Monday, 15 November, 2004, 10:15 GMT
Revenge 'can be an act of honour'
People have different ways of dealing with tragic loss
People have different ways of dealing with tragic loss
Desire for revenge among relatives can be a way of honouring the person who has died, according to a Northern Ireland academic.

Dr Chris Gilligan said contemporary therapy culture deemed such a response unworthy.

Healing was only one of a range of possible frameworks through which to relate to the loss of a loved one, he said.

"Thoughts of revenge are not necessarily bad - it can be borne out of respect for the person you have lost and trying to keep alive some of the memory of the person lost - a way of honouring the person who is dead," he told BBC News Online.

However, Dr Gilligan's arguments have been disputed by a Belfast counselling service.

The academic, a sociologist at the University of Ulster, said a multi-million pound "trauma industry" had grown in Northern Ireland.

Trauma counselling encourages people to interpret their unease in terms of their own individual difficulty in dealing with experiences they suffered during the Troubles
Dr Chris Gilligan
University of Ulster

There had been a growth in referrals for trauma counselling, although studies revealed little significant difference in mental health indicators before and after the 1994 paramilitary ceasefires, he said.

He believed that expansion was part of an increasing "medicalisation of society" and social issues.

Peace process

"Many people are unhappy, disillusioned, confused or disgruntled as a consequence of the social and political changes which have accompanied the peace process," he said.

"Others are frustrated with the uncertainty which continues to plague the future of Northern Ireland.

"Trauma counselling encourages people to interpret their unease in terms of their own individual difficulty in dealing with experiences they suffered during the Troubles.

To publicly trash counsellors is wrong because of the many people who have benefited from their services
Patricia Jamshidi
Corpus Christi Counselling Service

"Often, however, the source of their unhappiness or distress lies in the politics of the peace process," he said.

Describing those who had suffered losses as a consequence of the Troubles as "traumatised" often obscured the fact most people had got on with their lives, said the lecturer.

Different people had different ways of dealing with tragic loss, and he criticised those who seemed intent on cultivating "the ideal victim" by neutralising natural emotion.

However, a Belfast counsellor said the issue was not the emotion - which was always present - but how to channel it "into a more creative manner".

'Professional body'

Patricia Jamshidi of the Corpus Christi Counselling Service said that to "publicly trash counsellors" was wrong because of the many people who benefited from their services.

"It is very simplistic to say one way suits all and that that is the way to go," she said.
Trauma victim
Ms Jamshidi said most counsellors were hard working individuals

While she was not denying a "multi-million pound trauma industry" had emerged and some people had jumped on the bandwagon, most counsellors working in voluntary or community-based projects were hard working individuals, she said.

"People who go to counsellors need to be sure that they are seeing a professional. They should go to someone who has qualifications and is a member of a professional body and, of course, they should rely on word of mouth."

The counsellor, a member of the Eastern Health Board's trauma advisory panel, said she disputed the assertion that responses to the peace process were merely political rather than mental health issues.

"A better political agreement in Northern Ireland would go a long way, but it is not the only answer," she said.




SEE ALSO:
Need 'to heal NI wounds'
27 May 04 |  Northern Ireland
Consultation on NI truth process
14 May 04 |  Northern Ireland
Sharp rise in self-harm
19 Jun 03 |  Northern Ireland


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