"It's a power, not a disease": Syrian Youth Respond to Human Devastation Syndrome


  • Tory Brykalski University of California Davis
  • Diana Rayes Johns Hopkins University




Syrian children, mental health, Lebanon, ethnography, Human Devastation Syndrome, Syrian refugees


While it is well acknowledged that the effects of war and exile are devastating for Syrian youth, there has been less focus on how they interpret their experience of war and displacement. Integrating anthropological and global health perspectives, we invite two Syrian youth, Karim and Khadijah, to speak to larger theoretical questions about humanitarianism. We describe the creation of a new diagnostic term, “Human Devastation Syndrome” (HDS) by the Syrian American Medical Society. Used describe the effects of war and displacement on Syrian youth, HDS provides a lens through which Karim and Khadija introduce their own theories of devastation.


Tory Brykalski, University of California Davis

is a Ph.D. candidate in sociocultural anthropology at the University of California, Davis. She is currently writing her dissertation on agency, children, and the Syrian revolution. She has spent the last few years in Lebanon, where she learned from Syrian student-activists and worked as a teacher and teacher-trainer for Syrian educational NGOs.

Diana Rayes, Johns Hopkins University

is a global mental health graduate from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a current Fulbright research fellow with previous experience in Turkey, Lebanon, and Egypt researching issues related to refugee health and integration. She has previous work experience with the Syrian American Medical Society’s field office in Turkey, leading a project on humanitarian health ethics inside Syria.





Brykalski, T., und D. Rayes. „‚It’s a Power, Not a disease‘: Syrian Youth Respond to Human Devastation Syndrome“. Middle East - Topics & Arguments, Bd. 11, November 2018, S. 30-42, doi:10.17192/meta.2018.11.7803.