Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer


Vol. 2 No. 3: December issue

Medicalization as a way of life: The Iran-Iraq War and considerations for psychiatry and anthropology

  • Orkideh Behrouzan
May 14, 2015


Most debates on postwar mental health focus on clinical evaluations of veterans’ and civilians’ individual experiences of wartime ‘trauma’. But the psychological afterlife and the social discord that wars create cannot be reduced to a clinical artifact of individual trauma or be divorced from the historical and cultural meanings that it carries. Generations of war children will continue to remember, process, and work through cultural changes that quietly inscribe past war experiences in their daily lives. This article examines one such cultural shift, namely the medicalization of the memories of the Iran-Iraq War. It illustrates how individuals’ PTSD-like symptoms or alleged depreshen turn the seemingly desocializing act of medicalization on its head, and how diagnosis can become a cultural resource to resocialize the war in the sanitized language of biomedicine. It further suggests that moving beyond an individual and clinical rendition of trauma requires the integration of an anthropological understanding of illness and its cultural situatedness into medical pedagogies.

Most read articles by the same author(s)