International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

2008-11

Stuart Turner, MD, MA, FRCP, FRCPsych

ISTSS President

This is my concluding column as ISTSS President and gives me an opportunity to offer my thanks to all of those who make the ISTSS what it is. There are so many hard working volunteers who never attract attention but whose work is invaluable. There are 21 board members, an executive and 19 other committees, 8 task forces, 8 liaisons, 21 past presidents and many others who help to maintain the energy and enthusiasm of the Society. Certainly there is scope for other members to be involved in these activities and if anyone is interested in joining a committee or task force, I suggest looking at the Web site for information about chairs and their contact details. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one.

Of course, I am especially grateful to the members of the executive committee. I have had superb support and guidance from Elana Newman (as past-president, my mentor), Ulrich Schnyder (vice-president), John Fairbank (treasurer), Marylene Cloitre (secretary) and Patti Resick (president-elect). In addition, I would like to acknowledge the extremely hard work and support of Rick Koepke, ISTSS’ executive director and the entire team at Headquarters.
 
Perhaps inevitably, in my final column, I would like to return to the theme of human rights, justice and ethical practice. My personal opinion is that just as it is important to ensure that the treatments we offer are likely to have the best effects, so it is important that the way we operate is guided by ethical principles and priorities. In 2005, for example, ISTSS issued a statement on torture in the modern world. We rejected any justification for the use of torture in any country around the world. I was interested therefore to read the statement issued by the President of the American Psychological Association recently, in the form of an open letter to US President Bush, announcing a “significant change” in the APA’s policy, prohibiting “psychologists from any involvement in interrogations or any other operational procedures at detention sites that are in violation of the US Constitution or international law (eg the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention against Torture)”. It is probably worth reading this in full.
 
In our annual meeting, in addition to the keynote lecture by Professor Cherif Bassiouni on the pursuit of international criminal justice, I want to draw attention again to the featured panel, covering the topic of trauma and reparative justice, brought together by Past-President Yael Danieli. We can lay down rules about our own behaviour in certain environments, and we can support the development of systems through which victims can achieve justice, but it seems likely that systematic abuse will continue to be a widespread problem. Certainly we can offer individuals treatment but this multidisciplinary panel will explore the opportunities for healing within the justice process itself. It is this opportunity to bring together, creatively, diverse interests such as the distinctive clinical, academic, legal, and survivor perspectives in one venue that makes ISTSS a unique and valuable resource. I hope to see as many as possible of you in Chicago and to welcome you to what I hope will be an outstanding annual meeting.
 
Patti Resick will take over from me formally as president of ISTSS at our business meeting in Chicago, with a symbolic handing over of the gavel. She has decided to take forward the work ISTSS has already undertaken on diagnostic issues as we approach the development of DSM-V and ICD-11. This year, we have held a DSM-V essay competition (with funds raised by past-resident, Elana Newman) and organised a one-day track within our Annual Meeting. Next year this will be the theme of the annual meeting so that all members will have the opportunity to contribute to this important area. Further information will be available in Chicago, and on the Web, in the call for papers. 
 
Looking into the future again, I am delighted to welcome Ulrich Schnyder as the next president-elect of ISTSS. He and I have worked together for many years both in the European Society and in ISTSS. I am confident that he will make an outstanding president. He faced very tough competition in the election, with two very strong candidates standing; I do hope that we might persuade Sandro Galea to stand again now or in the future. I would also like to congratulate those elected to the Board, a mixture of new members, re-elected members and one newly-elected past president. I wish them and all of you my best wishes for a happy, rewarding and successful future.

 

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