A Place for Healing
In July 1995, I was asked to speak publicly on a psychological perspective of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for the first time at an international conference in Cape Town. This was my first opportunity to begin to collate some of my thoughts and research on, and experiences of, the beginning of the TRC process. The conference paper (Hamber, 1995a) argued for a comprehensive mental healthcare programme for survivors of past political abuse. In addition, I argued that the TRC offered a unique opportunity to develop, provide and sustain much needed psychological services at the same time to contribute more broadly to the process of reconciliation in South Africa. It was also the beginning of the initial consolidation of some of my thinking with regard to the healing potential of processes like those that the TRC offered.
This chapter outlines some of this initial thinking and then traces how the TRC dealt with the issue of mental health. It essentially assesses the contribution of the TRC to individual healing.