Moshan Beg - Dissertation du lauréat, 2000

My goal for the upcoming academic year is to complete my doctoral dissertation. I believe that a Mensa Canada Scholarship will provide necessary financial assistance towards the completion of my research. I am currently enrolled in my fourth year of doctoral studies in clinical psychology at the University of Windsor. In this program we are trained to be producers and critical consumers of scientific knowledge. In addition, we develop clinical intervention skills with diverse populations who suffer from a variety of mental health problems. The merging of these two equally important streams is reflected in my current research interests in the area of traumatic stress.

In 1996-97, I worked at Detroit Receiving Hospital, a Level l trauma facility in downtown Detroit, Michigan. My duties included crisis intervention and trauma counselling with victims of violent crime in both the emergency department and in patient units. Here I first gained experience in working with individuals suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a disorder that involves the development of disabling psychological symptoms following a traumatic event. During a practicum in 1998-99, I had the opportunity to conduct grief counselling with teachers and students on Walpole Island, a First Nations community, following the hit-and-run death of a young girl on the Island. Both these experiences have shaped my interest in conducting research in the area traumatic stress with First Nation peoples.

Though high rates of specific traumas such as domestic violence, child abuse, and forced relocation, have been identified as affecting Native people, some authors also suggest the existence of an intergenerational posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Specifically, thoughts and behaviours associated with traumas such as forced removal of children from their families or forced acculturation are passed on and learned and become the norm for subsequent generations, i.e., an intergenerational or historical PTSD. However, the theory of intergenerational historical trauma in Native peoples is lacking empirically validated support. Therefore, the focus of my doctoral dissertation, under the supervision of Dr. Shelagh Towson, will be to answer the question: "Does intergenerational PTSD exist amongst first Nations people?" In order for mental health professionals to assist Native individuals and communities develop positive methods and models, we must become aware of and document the multigenerational disruption of positive development that is the result of 500 years of historical trauma for Native people.

I was fortunate to be honoured with a Doctoral Fellowship Award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to conduct this dissertation, which bas reinforced to me the importance of the direction of this research. A Mensa Canada Scholarship would provide necessary additional funds to help offset the numerous expenses involved in such a research project (e.g., equipment costs, compensating research participants, travelling expenses, etc.). I plan to propose my dissertation by the Spring of 2000 and spend the remainder of 2000-2001 collecting data. By the end of my fifth year of doctoral studies (summer of 2001) I hope to have successfully defended my dissertation.