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The First Witch was Bosnian

Categorized in these topics: Apprenticeship Baba Yaga Kolo Trauma Format Rape


The Impact of First Person Story on Posttraumatic Stress in a Clinical Communal Format -- The Kolo -- in Bosnian Muslim women Refugees.

Bosnian women have experienced increasing violence for the past three generations. Both world wars and the recent civil war in the 1990 were played out in their homes, in their families, and in their wombs. The intergenerational aspects of PostTraumatic Stress are rooted within the Bosnian women, and the absence of their first person stories is evident in the 20th century wars and media. Already vulnerable from PTSD, most Bosnian women are refugees, joining 23 million refugees as of March 1995 (Mertus, Tesanovic, Metikos, & Boric, 1997[i]). The silence of these Bosnian Muslim women serves only to continue the intergenerational aspects of PTSD, and produces another generation of victims and offenders. Bosnian cultural aspects emphasize family and society, and many Bosnians live in family communities. Because Bosnian values place the needs of family first, many Bosnian women are indoctrinated into serving others first before they take care of themselves. All of these factors fuel the deathly silence of Bosnian women and make treatment for PTSD very difficult – all of this is due to many gender-specific concerns found in Bosnian culture. The Bosnian-Slavic women have been acculturated into violence.

Feminism is not discussed or openly modeled within Bosnian cultural life (Drakulic 1999[ii]). Bosnia before the civil war and after it does not have laws that govern either domestic violence or child abuse. The civil war lasted four years (1992-1994), and produced organized rape and torture concentration camps, along with ethnic cleansing programs that continued the assault on anything that was “feminine.” An example of the extreme fear of anything remotely identified as “feminine” by the Bosnians is what happened near the village of the Bosnian Muslim women who form the focus of this study. Novi Travnik is two kilometers from the town of Vittez, where one of the worst atrocities of the civil war took place. The Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in February 2000 sentenced two Croatian war criminals for murdering 150 people during the Muslim early morning call to prayer. Many of those murdered were women and children. The civil war in Bosnia took over 200,000 lives, and left 3 million refugees without their homes (Mertus et al, 1997). All of these factors have strongly influenced Bosnian women to remain silent and to maintain their victim status.[1] Violence has indoctrinated these women and robbed them of their ethnic culture.

Bosnians are familiar with the “kolo” which translated means “to dance” or “to be in the circle.” In the current context kolos were a tourism ploy that displayed the array of ethnic regions found in the former Yugoslavia. Removing the modern overlays attached to the kolo by returning to Neolithic and Paleolithic archetypal meaning of the word kolo allowed the Bosnian women a sharing circle from which to experience their feminine solidarity and feminine humanity. More importantly, first person stories were often shared within the kolo and feminine metaphysics were applied. Christopher Knight researched memes and determined that memes are “capable of evolution, “ and fostering “symbolic culture. Memes, or what I term as instruction of feminine metaphysics, then has its base in the immortality of whole sets of extremely complex memes-culture constituting instructions shaped not just by behavioral interaction between organism and their environments and derived not from genetically based phylogenetic conservatism of the species but shaped also through the relationship between these and a highly specific, rich and accumulating fund of collective wisdom or tradition materialized in technology, design, language, art, ritual and so on.”[iii] (Knight, 1991) Feminine metaphysics are instructions often expressed in universal language such as archetypes, dance, art, poetry or song. The most important feminine instruction in the Neolithic or beginning Bronze Age period was bleeding together monthly. Women naturally came together in cosmic rhythm with the Mother Earth and knew feminine solidarity. (Knight, 1991).



Psycho-social Issues and Gender Concerns
Bosnian women have lost their homes and their ethnic status. Edicts in some of the former Yugoslavia cantons require that Muslim women not wear head scarves. Bosnian women, and especially ethnic minority Muslims, learned to capitulate to second-class citizenry in order to survive. The silence from Bosnian Muslim women is enforced by an extreme isolation meted out by their loss of home, by the threat of death or torture, by the loss of family members, and by the re-emergence of the Muslim practice of female genital mutilation /sexual blinding[iv] (Walker 1993). Healing the effects of post-traumatic trauma requires that the first-person story be told and expressed as soon as possible after the traumatic event (Ochberg, 1988[v]). Feminist Archetypal Psychology practices are interdisciplinary and note the need for “first stories” of suffering as a rite of passage to a wisdom that introduces the individual into a “new way of being” (Borysenko, 1993[vi]). Rarely do Bosnian women come together to share their first person story. Usually divorced away in isolation and forever struggling to survive the women cannot come together to know solidarity and to heal their traumas.

The silences from these Bosnian Muslim women due the incessant wars and mass rapes of anything feminine became imprinted in their collective unconsciousness. Already stamped into their DNA psyche their innate roles victims and martyrs serve the intergenerational aspects of PTSD that produce yet, another generation of victims and offenders. Patricia Reis, feminist archetypal psychology therapist proved an insight to the “silencing connection.” Reis states that there never an “airing” of the ban on speaking out on abuse. She listed the following as the silencing connection; control-silencing the body, economic-silencing of power, depression silencing of rage, addictions silencing of passion and, perversions silencing of desire.[vii]

In my research and notice of how silence is deadly in women I came across the field of “fetal psychology.” Lloyd DeMause, a psychiatrist who researched and explored fetal psychology presents how women are silenced by sheer fright and speaks of the Bronze Age Indo-European influence upon Prot-Slavs states, “Early Indo-European warriors had to pass through initiatory rituals in order to attain full status in which they dressed up and attacked a monstrous dummy female poisonous serpent, complete with three heads. Although early warriors fought against men, not women, they often anally raped and castrated their enemies, turning them into symbolic women; from ancient Norse to ancient Egyptian societies, heaps of enemy penises on the battlefield are commonly portrayed. In addition, according to the world's leading historian of war, "the opportunity to engage in wholesale rape was not just among the rewards of successful war but, from the soldier's point of view, one of the cardinal objectives for which he fought." More women have been raped and killed in some wars than enemy soldiers. The hero is therefore simultaneously both a self-killer, punishing projected parts of himself, and a mother-killer, inflicting revenge for early traumas.”[viii] Bosnian women do not want to be that target for the hero therefore remain the patriarchal daughter rather then to transcend into the mother or crone archetype in submission and acceptance of the status quo. An example of the mother hating thought can be found in Vittez on the destroyed Muslim Mosque the site of war crimes where 150 Muslims were massacred during the early morning prayer. Graffiti on the Mosque is;”F_____Your Turkish Mother.”

The mass destruction of homes still stands as a silent reminder of the savage civil war that produced organized rape, torture camps, ethnic cleansing programs, and an absence of human rights for women. These destroyed homes are visible symbols of patriarchal warrior systems in constant operation. Bosnian women have been left without a safe container in which to express their first-person stories and their stories of suffering. Additionally, women globally are stripped of their feminine humanity and remain ignorant of their feminine metaphysics because most archetypes and symbols termed feminine are reconstructed with hypermasculine warrior values. To say that one is a witch or a feminist normally incurs branding and wrath especially in the killing fields of Bosnia. For instance, the Slavic Archeomythologies include the Vily (witches in Bosnian) flying abilities with cauldrons, mortars and pestles and brooms underscore the archeological artifacts of the Bird Goddess image as “primordial creatrix”[ix] for well over 25,000 years since the thirtieth millennium B.C.E. As a therapist I could understand the link that the Bosnian women had with the Bird Goddess to fly in oneness with nature; the Mother Earth. As prisoners of their current circumstances in a war torn country and economy many Bosnian women use soap operas, relationships and martyrism to fly from their situations. Instead of linking the “primordial creatrix” to the continuous stream of life/consciousness and invite an “injunction”[x] from which can be an instruction to recover feminine consciousness and humanity, many Bosnian women remain the patriarch’s daughter. The results of this decision-making are fatal as shown during the civil war and offered strong obstacles in developing a talking, sharing circle named the kolo for the clinical treatment of trauma.

Ralph Metzger, teacher of ecopsychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies and a member of the Green Earth Foundation, elaborated ,” I realize, too that the lifestyle of these “true, original humans” is much the same as that of my indigenous European ancestors, in the Neolithic village cultures of Old Europe: subsistence economy of farming and gardening, supplemented by hunting and fishing. Attuned to the cycles of nature, they revered nature and all the gods and Goddess that animate the visible world and that connect us to the invisible realms of spirits, of the ancestors, and of dreams. Many such cultures have survived more or less intact to this day. “[xi] Searching for a daily symbolic practice or looking for that thread Metzger spoke of among Bosnian women that was not layered with patriarchal meaning and violence I recognized their coffee consumption along with excessive cigarette smoking habits. Often more then five times daily, Bosnians drink demitasse cups of thick black coffee and turn over their cups for reading of their grounds. Incorporating the cup readings into the kolo allowed an in-depth archetypal psychology session with the women. More importantly, the Bosnian women regularly spoke of their first person story during the coffee cup readings while in the kolo.

Jungian thought and psychology has consistently studied how the integration of psyche, body, society and environment need to be assessed in equal proportions (Kast 1992). [xii] Jungian psychology gives precedence to the psycho/spiritual element behind all life experiences. Bosnians, and especially Bosnian women, have a spirituality, which is earth-based, and they have a tendency to give spiritual meaning to their life events. The fact that violence towards Bosnian women-southern Slavs has escalated in savagery since World War I (Ullman 1996[xiii]) and into the homes (which are a symbol of the womb) verifies the critical need to have an integration of the psyche, body, society and environment in clinical treatments. Verena Kast often cites the need that individuals who experience their conflicts on a physical plane have for a climate of attention (or a safe container) where the use of focused attention can evoke a relaxed and expressive atmosphere (Kast 1992). Symbols and archetypes are that safe container for Bosnian women, especially those cultural symbols of the Bosnian culture which hail from the Neolithic and Paleolithic eras of Old Europe; these symbols transcend modern archetypes and symbols, which are now tainted with genocides, organized rape camps, and death.

Jung believed that all symptoms are symbols, and that these symbols create archetypes with links to past generations of archetypes (Jung 1971[xiv]). Archetypes are universal symbols that impart an immediate knowing. A written alphabet is not needed with archetypes and symbolism and this allowed an outreach to women that were illiterate. Jung’s fascination with the I Ching stemmed from the archetypal meanings behind the I Ching’s symbols. Bosnians are familiar with symbols and archetypes, as shown by their extensive use of symbols in their embroidery. They are utterly fascinated by anyone who reads the grounds of their coffee cups. Another indication of the Bosnian use of symbols is demonstrated by the fact that Bosnians did not have a written alphabet until the late 18th century after the collapse of the Turkish Ottoman Empire that ruled Bosnia for over 500 years (Lewis 1982).[xv] The impact of not having a written alphabet was greater for Bosnian women, because women were not permitted to have an education until recently in the 20th century. Zivica Abadic[2][xvi], Director of Women’s Human Rights education of Helsinki Human Rights Committee, quoted recent statistics that show 15-30% of Bosnians are illiterate, and that 67% of this population are women.



Bosnian Cultural Taboos and Restrictions Against Expression of the Feminine

Taboos against women in Bosnian and Slavic culture restrict feminine expression and first person story (Greer, 1999); these taboos are successful because they ignite fear within women, producing silence and isolation. Bosnian women, especially Muslim women, lived through terrible sanctions in the civil war (Mertus, 1997). Fear and facing death forced Bosnian women to become adept at self-censorship and at censoring other women. Gossiping amongst the Bosnian women is a form of passive-aggression and it upholds the restriction of feminine expression and first-person story (Caputi, 1991).[xvii] Slavic women, unable to self-identify, take on this massive distortion of perceptions as righteous law. And many Bosnian women continue to support the Slavic fathers’ distortions in the guise of such expressions such as “it is our way of life”, or else they assert the values of Bosnian nationalistic pride because they have no containers within which they can authentically express their first-person stories.

Gynocide (mass murder of women) enforces the silence and perpetuates the inability to name or to hold anyone accountable. Bosnian women fear rape or death, and Bosnian mothers cannot speak about the crimes which were committed against them; the women’s silence has become a part of their culture and their way of surviving. Bosnians culturally value the family, and not the individual, and they live in collective groups. Speaking against another member of the collective group, and the imbalance of power between the genders enforces the silence of Bosnian Muslim women. Slavic culture is steeped in ethnic cleansing, gynocide, and other violent sanctions against women. These sanctions are meant to erase women’s power, status and voice. It is another cultural “ism” that fosters gynocide. Bosnian women experience what rape victims and battered women experience (Walker, 1979).[xviii] Many Bosnian mothers who could name their offenders still remain absolutely silent. Bosnian mothers kept the silence during the ethnic cleansing and after it. Hampered by their non-existent status within their culture, and harnessed by man made language (Spencer,)[xix] and by the manipulation of symbols (Goodison,1990)[xx], Bosnian women are thoroughly trained, coached and indoctrinated into silence by the threat of terrifying sanctions.



Psycho-Spiritual Remnants of Feminine Values

Slavic women do not know of their pre-her-story that was full of rich archetypes and a culture (Old Europe) that lasted for millennia in peace and gender acceptance before the Bronze Age (Gimbutas 1991). In the clinical cultural format of the kolo-circle, the daily acts and traditions of the Bosnians can be traced to Old Europe, and are psycho-spiritual remnants of feminine values. Sweeping the floors with a natural broom, using the mortar and pestle, and baking the round bread in a communal stone hearth are some of the daily acts and traditions that are visible feminine metaphysical links to Old Europe (Marbler, 1997[3][xxi]). When reference was made to these instruments (the natural broom, the round bread, mortar and pestle and coffee cups) in the kolo/circle format with archeological evidence (Sjoo, Mor, 1991)[xxii] the Bosnian Muslim women brought in their embroidery which bore an astonishing symbolic resemblance to the same symbols found in the plates/pictures in the archeological books. The Bosnian women were extremely interested to this contemporary link to their ancient grandmothers, and after each kolo/circle session, they began giving fuller expression to their fascination with the iconic symbols of Old Europe. They wanted to know more as they began to understand their connection to a very ancient past.

The indigenous folklore dances of the multiethnic geographic regions of Bosnia and former Yugoslavia offer a clinical platform of circle dancing that connects in an ethnic diversity by having all dancers participate shoulder to shoulder in a serpentine dance. Many of the Bosnian Muslim women knew most of the folklore dances and the women would break into a kolo/dancing circle spontaneously, whenever they had the chance to do so. The Bosnian Muslim women gain a sense of community (Woodman, Dickson, 1996)[xxiii] when they dance the kolo together. Anna Ilieva and Anna Shturbanova, senior research fellow/scientific researchers for the Institute of Folklore, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sophia, Bulgaria, studied the zoomorphic images in Bulgarian women’s ritual dances in the context of Old European symbolism (Marbler, 1997); they determined that dancing holds a message from antiquity delivered not in written form, but in the physical form of dance. Ilieva and Shturbanova, in their holistic study of dance culture, catalogued an amazing diversity of dance patterns, dance rituals, concepts, and beliefs, and discovered that the dance was a means of attaining ritual ecstasy, and served the purpose of healing (Marbler, 1997).

The Bosnian Muslim women grew more comfortable and felt bonded to me as an American Bosnian therapist when I danced with them in the kolo-folklore dances. The serpentine dances continually pictorially draw the symbols of the spiral, circle and other Old Europe archetypes and symbology. At the same time, the kolo-folklore dances allow for a multi-ethnic diversity, and are an acculturation point for those wanting to enter the sacred kolo/circle. In one kolo-folklore dance, I traced with chalk the pattern of my footsteps and what evolved was a rough shape of a labyrinth. Rachel Pollack (Pollack, 1997)[xxiv] studied these outlines in passage tombs of Neolithic and Paleolithic to Minoan, along with other symbols that involved an “embodied” message. Pollack describes the labyrinth as a pathway to a center, and that it is the representation of the uterus “through which we travel in an ecstatic dance, back to the source of our existence, then once more return to the outer world of our daily lives.” Many of the Bosnian Muslim women, after their ecstatic dancing, stated that dancing the kolo embodied the very picture of their lives, that the kolo was the daily rhythm of their lives, that they had danced this way before, and that their grandmothers had danced this way. The Bosnian Muslim women claimed that they were in trance and that they could not believe that they had danced so hard and for such a long time. One elder of the kolo/circle cried when she recognized that the ritualistic dancing symbolically reflected the generations of war that had occurred in her grandmother’s matriarchal line. The elder danced again, but this time took care to change the pattern of her dance, and then proclaimed that she had broken the spells cast in the previous repeated dance steps.

Many of the women elders found their voice by singing indigenous folk songs, which had been orally passed down through the generations, and which they sang in the kolo/circle. The oral tradition of passing down stories of the Bosnian peoples helped retained their ethnicity and culture for thousands of years. Songs became a liberation tool. Paul Newham’s work with singing involves an interdisciplinary perception of vocal work that insists on the use of nonverbal strategies among clinically-orientated psychotherapists (Newham, 1994)[xxv]. Involving an aspect of Newham’s interdisciplinary perception of nonverbal strategies in the kolo/circle for Bosnian Muslim women generated some liberating effects, such as the lessening of depression. The Bosnian Muslim women in the study sang often within the kolo/circle, and reported less depression in the following week after a kolo/circle session. Others in the kolo/circle experienced more pain and profound sadness after singing the old songs, because they evoked a memory of times that were happier and not war-torn. However, the effects of singing in sacred kolo/circle allowed the women to share their emotions, and to articulate what they felt when they sang.


Conceptualization of Case Studies
Twenty refugee-status Bosnian Muslim women living in Novi Travnik, Bosnia participated for two years in a communal “circle” format called the “Kolo” in Bosnian and 16 completed a ten-question survey after completing one month of treatment sessions (in Bosnian, “kolo” means “a circle” or “to dance”). The population I studied were diagnosed as suffering from PostTraumatic Stress (this was a criterion for them to participate in the study). Learned helplessness, sensitization, startled reflexes (Bell, Miller & Schwartz[xxvi] 1992) were also used as criteria for selecting the population. The communal circle format was based on Feminist Archetypal Psychology theory developed by Estelle Lauter and Carol Schreier Rupprecht[xxvii]. Through the use of “First Person Story,” [xxviii] (Greer 1999) which was enacted in the circle/kolo format, and through public testimonials, the women healed from the following effects of PostTraumatic Stress: major depression, dissociation, anxiety, rage, sleep disturbance, substance abuse, suicidal tendencies, and revictimization (McCall, Mackay & Donovan[xxix] 1991). Taking an interdisciplinary approach through the involvement of archeological findings found in Marija Gimbutas’s work (Gimbutas, 1991) along with Christopher Knight’s (Knight 1991) look at “memes, “ provided a rich conceptualization of the kolo and case studies.



Approaches and Methodology
Projective testing and first person story were much more effective when clinically treating Bosnian Muslim women for trauma because they make use of first-person story. First-person story is engendered and empowers the feminine within traumatized women. The use of Dr. Angeles Arriens[xxx] cross-cultural symbols and myths of universal symbols projective testing, along with the “cube” (Gottlieb and Pesic,1998[xxxi]) established a operating feminine humanity vocabulary for the study. The use of the Operationalization of the Multicultural Counseling Competencies (Arredondo, Toporek, Brown, Jones, Locke, Sanchez, and Stadler, 1996)[xxxii] as a guide to develop more effective methods from a multicultural perspective was employed for counseling techniques and helped to establish a safe container in which the Bosnian Muslim women could express their first-person stories as they applied the symbols and experienced them. The scientific, ration and linear types of testing instruments are hypermasculine and only served to continue the wounded feminine. Approaches and methodologies are employed more so in the archetypal, projective field because it is more engendering and holistic in assessment.

The Bosnian Muslim women in the study did not resist the projective tests and symbols as they resisted extensive written questionnaires. A study conducted on the effects of PostTraumatic Stress and Acculturation on Marital functions in Bosnian Refugee couples (Spaspjevic, Heffer, Snyder, 2000) encountered resistance with the Bosnian-translated testing instruments such as PSS-SR, along with the personal nature of inquires; in fact, 30% of the Bosnian couples declined to participate. The authors of the study noted that Bosnian refugees were so traumatized by the war, and from living in refugee camps, that they were suspicious of any personal questions or of any enquiries about their war experiences (Spaspjevic et al, 2000). The silence on the topic of the trauma and genocide encourages isolation, and only further incites the effects of PSTD, especially in women. The study concluded that future research needed to emphasize what was ethno- and culturally-relevant when the types of trauma that had been experienced were being assessed, and that any studies should include the “breadth and quality of social support” (Spaspjevic 2000). This was noted as a cultural and gender specific issue, and a concern that had to be addressed. Because many Bosnian Muslim women in the study were experiencing episodes of major depression, and because of the raging hatred and fear of the feminine in Bosnian culture, and because of the wars that had victimized Bosnian women (Mertus et al, 1997) together with centuries of neglect for women to be educated and literate, I believed that the use of innovative re-visioned Jungian thought found in Feminist Archetypal Psychology practices was psychotherapeutically-appropriate.

Feminist Archetypal Psychology (Estella Lauter and Carol Schreier Rupprecht, 1985) is an inter-disciplinary revisioning of Jungian thought. Feminist Archetypal Psychology practices in Bosnia allowed for the creation of a safe container -- the kolo/circle to hold first person stories and first-person stories of suffering. Many Bosnians today understand the kolo to be a series of folk dancing, but in its original meaning, “kolo” meant a circle, and to dance in a circle. Therefore, in this study, the definition of the kolo, along with the definition of feminism, was needed at the beginning of the clinical treatment format. Many do not know that Bosnia, where genocide and gynocide now reign, was originally the geographic location of a peaceful mother/woman-centered culture that flourished between 6500 and 3500 BCE. In fact, Bosnian prehistory (actually herstory) was such a peace-loving civilization that Bosnians knew no wars or violence for millennia (Baring, Cashford, 1991[xxxiii]). The overlay of thick warrior thought and attitude in present day Bosnia has left many hungry for their own images and stories; Bosnians hunger to be able to express, reveal, and value their own archetypal events by means of symbols and images that embody their own truths.

This is even more critical for Bosnian women (Slavic women), who have had their stories erased or silenced. Major depression was a predominant amongst the Bosnian Muslim women in this study, and it is a major characteristic of PTSD (Ochberg, 1988). With the use of painting, art therapy and other projective testing, the Bosnian Muslim women finally mirrored their ancestors of Old Europe, and found expression via a projective vocabulary rather than through a written alphabet. The Bosnian preherstory women painted and/or drew symbols (from 6500 BCE), and left so much artistic expression behind that in archaeology, Bosnia is known as the “cradle of spiral art” (Gimbutas, 1991)[xxxiv]. The kolo involves ancient Bosnian cultural symbols from an era which classically-trained archaeologist Marija Gimbutas termed as “Old Europe” (Gimbutas, 1991) into a clinical treatment format; the kolo became a talking circle, and not just a folk-dance circle. The use of symbols through Feminist Archetypal psychological practices provided for a safe container for Bosnian Muslim women to express their first person stories and their stories of suffering. The use of the kolo/circle was essentially a multicultural and gender-specific approach.



First Person Stories-First Stories of Suffering Counseling in Bosnian Kolo/circle
Public testimonials and bearing witness to Bosnian Muslim women’s stories in a kolo/circle mirrored the Bosnian cultural aspect of handing down oral stories through the generations. The circle is important in ancient and modern Bosnian culture. Bosnians believe that the circle has no beginning and no end. The circle-kolo in Bosnia is found in the folklore dances, and in the round breads baked at the high holidays. Along with the circle, the spiral often appears in Bosnian culture. The meaning of the spiral – that life continues – is part of the ancient Bosnian belief in the interrelationship of all living beings. A study that first appeared as a community project to help Bosnian refugees tell their stories publicly noted that the PTSD symptoms disappeared when Bosnians testified in public (Weine, Kulenovic, Pavkovic.Gibbons, 1998).[xxxv] Feminist Archetypal Psychology analyst Patricia Reis speaks of the isolation characterized in women as the privatization of pain (the feeling that they themselves are alone in their pain) (Reis 1995).[xxxvi] Reis noted that women cannot find their voice in writing nor in the spoken word, and determined that “finding one’s voice, written or spoken, is central to establishing a woman’s sense of self and it is at the core of some of our most mutinous and subversive relations with men” (Reis, 1995, p. 151).

The reality for Bosnian women is that to speak of sexual crimes committed against them during the war and in times of no war, is to place themselves at great risk – these women cannot live in their own communities after such testimonies. The kolo gatherings provided safe places in which to house these public testimonies. Alice Walker in her novel, Possessing the Secret of Joy, states that, “A daughter whose culture demands the literal destruction of the most crucial external sign of her womanhood demands the literal destruction of the most crucial external sign of her womanhood: her vulva itself.” One of Bosnian Muslim women in the study, voiced her desire to have freedom from proscribed female roles and asked how making a daughter submit to “the razor blade was the Muslim faith.“ Within the kolo/circle, where each woman knows the others’ public testimonies, the participants were able to bear witness to each other’s lives, thus healing the effects of PTSD. Carol P. Christ, Ph.D., a feminist, speaks about “hearing into speech,” which is bearing witness (Christ, 1997)[xxxvii] in a safe container, which in Bosnia, is synonymous with their cultural forms of the kolo/circle.

The clients were gathered into a circle-kolo and were first asked to share their daily life experiences. The following constructs formed the basis for the circle: To bear witness is to provide a safe container. A Bosnian gathering always involves coffee drinking, and so the kolo incorporated coffee drinking into the format, since drinking coffee enabled the symbols at the bottom of the cups to be read. When sharing the coffee cup readings, the Bosnian Muslim women shared their first person stories and their stories of suffering. The cup or chalices are a common symbol for a container. The cup readings encouraged sharing without judgment or moralistic views; the women accepted that they were in a safe container within the circle. The clients were directed to practice the following skills when bearing witness: listening skills; “being” and not doing -- not solving anyone’s problems; and allowing the pain to be expressed, but avoiding any needless suffering. Counseling interventions were made whenever the material presented was violence-orientated or power-based. At that point, discernment was encouraged by the asking of such questions as to whether what had been spoken about had its roots in Bosnian culture or in violence. This led the Bosnian Muslim women, after many kolo sessions, to became aware of the following:

Of how Bosnian Muslim women were bearing witness to the effect of patriarchal mandates; how they lead to a woman’s self-hatred for her own being and how lethal all of this is;


Of how afraid all of them were; Bosnian Muslim women recognized that a fear of change in the established order accompanied the fear of women, and that violence is in actuality a gender issue. They realized that whenever there is an imbalance of power, violence is seeded. Carla J. Emmatoni, a famous pioneer in neo-Freudian psychology noted, “I found that men tend to place all their fear of, doubt about and fascination with their own unacceptable feminine qualities onto women. A woman then becomes both a “soul image” for a man and a repository of evil;” (Lethea Erz,1997)[xxxviii]


Of how they could find their voice in group-kolo gatherings – that different mediums which are authentically Bosnian, some of which had their origins in Neolithic eras (folklore dancing, folklore singing, embroidery work, Bosnia cooking and coffee cup reading) (Marler,1997) provided a means through which their stories could be told and their healing could begin.



Materials

A self-report with ten questions was used with twenty Bosnian Muslim refugees. Only 16 participated in the self-reporting and survey. The study focused on those with trauma, and it should be noted that ethnic minorities are frequently reluctant to participate in this kind of research (especially research involving a questionnaire); so the population selected for this study was not randomly chosen, a limiting factor. Because Bosnians are suspect of any type of enquiries, especially in terms of questions that are about personal matters, the testing instrument was scaled down to ten questions in Bosnian. A demographic questionnaire was inserted with the ten-question survey to obtain information about age, marital status, number of children, place of residence, and physical enquiries about menstruation, about any signs of menstrual difficulties, and about whether they experienced headaches. The sample questions were as follows: 1) Do you find yourself more angry and irritable after the war?; 2) Do you have nightmares? Do they reoccur?; 3) Are you easily frightened, fearful or always scared?; 4) Do you have problems remembering?; 5) Do you have headaches or migraines? 6) Do you feel safe?; 7) Did you tell your war story?; 8) Did you have friends before the war that are still your friends now?; 9) Do you have friends now?; 10) Do you feel worthy? A “blind” translation by Bosnians who had emigrated to the United States was used to check the accuracy, sensitivity and validity of the translation. The guidelines and methodology used in Bell, Miller & Schwartz[xxxix] (1992) in connection with learned helplessness, sensitization, startle reflexes are reflected in questions one through five. Question six looked at aggression, intimidation and/or physical aggression. Questions seven through ten looked at community, communal activities, and of how the integration of psyche, body, society and environment need to be assessed in equal proportions (Kast 1992).



Table 1. Demographic Information, Percentages

Median Age
Marital Status
Children
Regular Menstruation
Before and after war?
I rate my stress level now as: high, normal, low or I don’t know
Before the war my stress level was: strong, normal, low or I don’t know

28.5
76% are married
53% have children
62.5% reported irregularities with their menstruation
81% reported irregularities after the war.
75% reported high stress levels
69% reported normal stress levels before the war with 25% reporting “I don’t know.”



Table 2. Responses to Survey



1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
%





Q1 Y
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
N
N
N
Y
Y
75% Y


Q2
N
N
Y/Y
N
Y/
Y/Y
N
Y/Y
Y/Y
N
Y/Y
Y/Y
N
N
Y/Y
N
50% Y


Q3
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
Y
N
88% Y


Q4
N
N
N
N
N
N
Y
Y
Y
N
N
Y
N
Y
Y
N
37.5 Y


Q5
N
Y
Y
N
Y
Y
Y
N
N
N
Y
N
N
N
Y
N
50%Y


Q6
Y
N
Y
N
Y
Y
N
N
N
N
Y
Y
N
Y
N
Y
50% Y


Q7
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
Y
87.5% Y


Q8
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
93.7 %Y


Q9
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
N
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
93.7 %Y


Q10
Y
Y
Y
N
N
Y
Y
N
N
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
75% Y

























Results
Several interesting findings resulted from the questionnaire, in that some of the respondents could not determine their own stress levels and were often reported as stating that they felt disassociated from their bodies and from their emotions in general. Those that indicated a relatively high degree of worth also reported irregularities in their menstruation after the war, and that the higher levels of stress were coupled with greater fear after the war. Half of those same respondents reported that they did not feel safe. Eighty-seven and a half percent self-reported that they had told their first person story about the war, but that their bodies, memory difficulties and their stress indicated a need to express their truths in a safe container such as the kolo. Many of the respondents reported that the kolo gathering was the first time that they had been able to express their first-person stories of their war-trauma.

The Bosnian Muslim women respondents reported that the questionnaire was a unique, first-time experience for them, and that they had never been asked such questions before. The respondents reported that the self-report was a form of therapy and reflection for them.



Discussion
The kolo invites a safe atmosphere from which the Bosnian women can be witnessed and understood. The properties of the kolo can be described as being a geosphere. Kolos are literally micro geospheres of the Mother Earth. The circle is known to be one of the primary feminine signs of early matrifocal villages. The kolo is a natural form and provides a structure for a source of sisterhood for Slavic peoples. It is a mode of communication of a communal community. It gives new space of awareness for approaching the trauma suffered by Bosnians especially women who need to experience their feminine humanity. The circle is then the center. Center is “that which surrounds.”

It is apparent in the studies of trauma that a being a woman first before any race, creed or ethnicity is not investigated or discussed. Finding the universal among the Bosnian women always included the fact that we are all women regardless of culture. The intrusion of hypermasculine values found in testing instruments and scientific study only tended to increase the trauma and fright among the Bosnian women in this study. Bosnians on the whole do not respect or care much for the Humanitarian Aid Agencies and operating foreign bureaucracies and tended to eschew anything remotely similar to that patriarchal system because many feel they are traumatized again a and again in dealing with these outside agencies. Their own governing entities are almost entirely operated by men leading the women to believe nothing will change. Additionally, it was the women themselves who remained unaware of the feminist view or feminine consciousness let alone feminine metaphysics (Ancis & Sanchez-Hucles, 2000).[xl] More investigation of multiple exposures in trauma studies need to include the gender specific concerns and issues as well (Green, et al 2000).[xli]

Women are faced with the loss of their divine feminine mirroring. Feminine mirroring means women’s archetypes are non-existent in their lives and if present the feminine archetypes are devalued and manipulated to suit the needs of hypermasculine demands. Without this divine feminine mirroring, without honor and value of the feminine in a woman’s life there is a loss of universal language and a loss of sacred union with a lack of orientation or instruction. This present study consistently indicated the loss of feminine mirroring and devaluation of what is feminine. The use of the coffee cups and application of archetypal psychology and mandalas as an overlay of the cup readings allowed a cultural adaptation specific to Bosnian women and feminine culture.

One of the outcomes of this first-person story sharing within the Bosnian kolo was a recent conference hosted by the Bosnian Muslim women in July 2000 at Novi Travnik, Bosnia. The Bosnian Muslim women wanted to share their first person stories and stories of suffering with their global sisters; they wanted to find self-sustaining skills, both economic and psychological. The Bosnian Muslim women were able to do an hour-long radio program and, during four national press conferences, they spoke about their first-person stories. The kolo became a medium through which they were able to winnow out what was violent from what was cultural; the healing process for PTSD was begun. The prevalence of data in special populations have pointed to higher rates of PTSD in women then men (Shannon, Lonigan, Finch, and Taylor 1994) and this has culminated in the women’s need for deeper assessments of social desirability, relationship and social context. The kolo was rated very high in terms of social context, desirability, and in terms of fostering relationships amongst the Bosnian Muslim women. Recent outreach from the Bosnian women in the case studies have taken the Bosnian women to begin a kolo with the Srbrenica Women in Tuzla and the women in Vittez.







Discuss / Raspravljati


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[i] Mertus, J. Tesanovic, J., Metikos, H., & Boric, R. (Eds.) 1997. Context Suitcase: Refugee voices from Bosnia and Croatia. Berkley, California: University of California Press.

[ii] Slavenka Drakulic, 1999. Who are the real targets? The Bosnian Institute, No. 9/10 April-July 1999.

[iii] Christopher Knight, 1991. Blood Relations, Yale University Press, New Haven, London, p.10

[iv] Alice Walker, 1993. Warrior Marks Harcourt Brace & Company, New York.

[v] Frank M. Ochberg, M. D. 1988. Post Traumatic Therapy and Victims of Violence. Brunner Mazel Publishers.

[vi] Joan Borysenko, Ph.D. 1993. Fire in the Soul, Time Warner, Inc., New York.

[vii] Patricia Reis, Daughters of Saturn, p. 73.

[viii] Lloyd DeMause, “restaging Prenatal and Birth Traumas in War and Social Violence, Childhood and History, www.psychohistory.com

[ix] Anne Baring and Jules Cashford, ibid.,

[x] Ken Wilbur, ibid., p. 45

[xi] Ralph Metzner, “Where is the First World?” Lapis Magazine, Issue 4, 1997 p. 37.

[xii] Verena Kast, 1992. The Dynamics of Symbols --Fundamentals of Jungian Psychotherapy. Fromm International, New York.

[xiii] R.H. Ullman, 1996. The World and Yugoslavia’s Wars. New York: Council of Foreign Affairs.

[xiv] C. G. Jung, 1971. Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious. The Viking Press, New York.

[xv] Bernard Lewis, 1982. The Muslim Discovery of Europe. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1982.

[xvi] Zivicia Abadic, Meeting at Helsinki Human Rights Committee, Kuca Yudskih Prava, Ante Fijamenga 14 b, October 17, 2000.

[xvii] Jane Caputi, 1993. Gossips, Gorgons & Crone. Bear & Company, New Mexico.

[xviii] L. Walker, 1979.The Battered Woman Syndrome . Harper & Row, New York.

[xix] Dale Spencer, Man-made Language.

[xx] Lucy Goodison, 1990. Moving Heaven and Earth. HarperCollins/Publisher, London.

[xxi] Joan Marbler, 1997. From the Realm of the Ancestors. Knowledge, Ideas & Trends, Inc., Connecticut.

[xxii] Monica Sjoo, Barbara Mor, 1991. The Great Cosmic Mother. Harper Collins, New York.

[xxiii] Marion Woodman, Elinor Dickson, 1996. Dancing in the Flames. Shambhala Publications Inc. Boston.

[xxiv] Rachel Pollack, 1997. The Body of the Goddess. Element Books, Rockport, Massachusetts.

[xxv] Paul Newham, 1994. The Singing Cure. Shambhala, Boston.

[xxvi] Bell, I.R. Miller, C.S. & Swartz, G.E, 1992. Possible relationships to kindling and affective spectrum disorders. (Biological Psychiatry, 32, 218-242. 1992).

[xxvii] Estella Lauter and Carol Schreier Rupprecht, eds. 1985. Feminist Archetypal Theory: Interdisciplinary Re-Visions of Jungian Thought (Knoxville: The University of

Tennessee Press. .

[xxviii] Germaine Greer, 1999. The Whole Woman. Transworld Publishers LTD., London, 1999.

[xxix] McFall, M.E. Mackay, P.W. & Donovan, D.M, 1991. Combat-related PTSD and psychosocial adjustment problems among substance abusing veterans. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 179, 33-38, 1991.

[xxx] Angeles Arrien, Ph.D.,


[xxxi] Anne Gottlieb & Slobodan D. Pesic, 1998. Secrets of the Cube. (Library of Congress, New York).

[xxxii] Patricia Arredondo, Ed.D., Rebecca Toporek, M.Ed., Sherlon Brown, Ph.D. Janet Jones, Ph.D., Don C. Locke, Ph.D., Joe Sanchez, Ph.D., Holly Stadler, Ph.D. 1996. Operationalization of the Multicultural Counseling Competencies. Association for Multicultural counseling and Development.

[xxxiii] Anne Baring, Jules Cashford, 1991 The Myth of the Goddess. Viking Arkana, England.

[xxxiv] Marija Gimbutas,1991 The Civilization of the Goddess. HarperSanFrancisco

[xxxv] Stevan Weine, Alma Kulenovic, Ivan Pavkovic and Robert Gibbons, 1998. Testimony Psychotherapy. American Journal of Psychiatry, December 1998.

[xxxvi] Patricia Reis, 1995. Daughters of Saturn. Continuum: New York.

[xxxvii] Carol Christ, 1997. Odyssey with the Goddess. Routledge, New York.

[xxxviii] Lethea Erz,1997, An Interview with Carla J. Emmatoni, A Feminist Journal of Transformative Wisdom Spring/Summer 1997 Volume II, Number I

[xxxix] Bell, I.R. Miller, C.S. & Swartz, G.E. 1992. Possible relationships to kindling and affective spectrum disorders. (Biological Psychiatry, 32, 218-242. 1992).

[xl] Julie R. Ancis, Janis V. Sanchez-Hucles, 2000. Preliminary Analysis of Counseling Student’s Attitudes toward Counseling Women and Women of Color: Implications for Cultural Competency Training, Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development. P. 24.

[xli] Bonnie L. Green, Lisa A. Goodman, Janice L. Krupnick, Carole B. Corcorna, Rachel M. Petty, Patricia Stockton, and Nicole M. Stern, 2000 Outcome of Single Versus Multiple Trauma Exposure in a Screening Sample, Journal of Traumatic Stress, Volume 13, No. 2


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