Traumatic Experiences of the Living Disappeared in Argentina: A Review

Abstract

Between 1976 and 1983, in Argentina, among the 30,000 individuals kidnapped and killed by armed forces, several pregnant women delivered their children in captivity, who were illegally adopted by families with close military ties. To date, 130 of these children have been identified (named Living Disappeared, LDs) and reunited with their biological families. The aim of this review was to analyze the peculiarity of their traumatic experiences the specific factors of trauma resolution. We conducted a comprehensive search of the articles that specifically deal with Argentinean LDs. Fifteen records met the inclusion criteria. Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic memories were reported by LDs, both after and before learning the truth; the processing of trauma was found to be facilitated by verbalizing traumatic experiences, listening to others’ narratives, and recognizing the belonging to a political community. The pathogenic relevance of the early exposure to trauma, the climate of lies, secrets, and doubts which characterized the life with the illegally adoptive parents and the conflict between two identities have been found. The findings come out on the side of the influence of the context in trauma resolution.

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Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge Avonlea Fotheringham for her helpful comments regarding the language revision.

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Correspondence to Cecilia de Baggis.

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de Baggis, C., Pallini, S. Traumatic Experiences of the Living Disappeared in Argentina: A Review. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 52, 114–128 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10578-020-00991-w

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Keywords

  • Trauma processing
  • Collective trauma
  • Argentinean living disappeared
  • Intergenerational trauma
  • Dissociative responses