Trauma in context : a conceptualisation of traumatic stress among rural Zulu-speakers in KwaZulu Natal.
This research explores the relationship between social, cultural and politico-historical factors and the interpretation of events as causing disruption and significant distress in the lives of rural Zulu-speakers in KwaZulu Natal. Focus groups, each comprising a different category of first-language Zulu speakers were conducted, namely a youth group, a women's group, a group of traditional and faith healers and a group of community health workers, The groups were conducted in Zulu, recorded and then transcribed and translated into English. The translated transcripts were then analysed for common themes. It was found that explanatory systems of illnesses, based on the African worldview produce a tendency to cluster events into 'paths ofdistress' that are endowed with traumatic meaning. These paths are initiated by events that are significant in terms of people's history and culture. They are an attempt to describe how the connection and relationship between events, which are to a large extent outside ofone's control, contribute to aconcept of 'trauma' or'suffering' that implies disruption and distress on an ongoing and wider scale than is captured in the Western concept of PTSD. Aprofound sense offailure and a breakdown of community relationships and processes are some ofthe effects of such paths.