The "luck" of the tragedy: the traumatic paradox of the asylum seeker

In these great times migration, there is a lot of talk about landings, numbers, money spent onwelcome. Too little is said about their stories, the reason that drove them to come here and the drama that they bring in once they arrive. This drama is in turn the only tool for obtaining international protection recognition in our country. The deeper, more serious and tragic this drama, the more likely it is that their application will be accepted.

Il asylum seeker he is required to explain the reasons for his flight before a Territorial Commission that examines the truthfulness of his story and how much more or less traumatic it is. The more the tragedy that is told is full of mourning, persecution, torture, the more the legal sadism will be satisfied. Imagine what dynamics can trigger this paradox in an already multi-traumatized mind. The asylum seeker with such a migration history feels he is the bearer of aillegitimate "luck" to which he must almost be grateful. More details, more names and memories will bring before the Territorial Commission and more possibilities there will be to obtain the desired status.

Too little is said of the pain felt in having to relive in front of a Commissioner never seen before, of the details and of the passages that have very often crumbled a life. After a traumatic event, the mind organizes itself in the cheapest way possible, to make that memory vanish quickly. External stimuli in the here and now that can mend the trauma are avoided and the subject triggers an emotional gymkhana so as not to reactivate the suffering.

It often happens there complete removal of some passages deemed too intense: a detail, sometimes an entire excerpt of its history, is cut off. Let's imagine how this could be in contrast with the legal path that an asylum seeker must undertake, which instead is pushed to remember and stay on that memory as lucidly as possible. He cannot afford to "avoid" what hurts him, let alone cancel important passages because they are functional to its reliability vis-à-vis the Italian State. The ambiguity of this troubled path risks creating a short circuit in the minds of these individuals, who often, even once international protection has been obtained, find it difficult to integrate into the present context, getting stuck in precisely this paradox: being overwhelmed by the past and still have to be grateful for giving them a chance in the future.


Claudia Notari


* Notes on the author:
Claudia Notari is a Psychologist, Psychotherapist graduated from the University of Rome "La Sapienza" and graduated from the SFPID Specialization School with a psychodynamic orientation.
She is a founding member of Psy + Onlus and currently Vice President of the same. Since 2009 he has been involved in research and psychological assistance in the field of immigration and asylum seekers. He has collaborated with several schools in the Roman territory through listening counters for students, family members and teachers. Since 2017 he has been working on a bridge project between the Bambin Gesù Hospital in Rome and the "Davide Ciavattini" family home by taking charge of the psychological well-being of family members and children with oncohematological pathologies.


migrants, asylum, trauma, immigration, PTSD

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