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UC Berkeley


Silvia Bruckback - Human Rights, Law and Social Justice

Having graduated in 2013, Silvia was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the National Honor Society. Siliva will be entering Georgetown Law School in 2017.
She received her BA in ISF: Human Rights, Law and Social Justice and African Diaspora Studies and a minor in Disability Studies. As an undergraduate she completed two honors theses in addition to serving as an intern and then TA for both the Health Service Internship and Field Study Internship, and as the University of California in DC Student Director. She interned at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, both in Berkeley and DC in addition to FNG in Lagos, Nigeria. Silvia pursues extensive travel in her free time, having been to 29 countries, 19 during her time as an undergrad. Now at the Berman Institute of Bioethics at John Hopkins University she serves in a direct support capacity to Dr. Kahn, indirectly to Dr. Faden in addition to being the main point of contact for the Hecht-Levi Fellowship. She hopes to attend Law school and pursue a career in international mental health policy.
Silvia’s senior thesis for the major was titled Post Traumatic Stress: Expanding the Narrative, Analyzing the Diagnosis; it was an exploratory study of Post Traumatic Stress Disorders definition and therefore validity as a diagnostic tool. It became an analysis of the current definition of PTSD and its strengths and weaknesses, as seen through the lens of four case studies. Silvia writes: “I looked at the extensive and often contradictory literature on the causes of PTSD, acknowledging the two-fold invisibility of the disorder. First, invisibility due to the repression of memories by a sufferer, often meaning symptoms manifest years after the trauma occurred. Secondly the invisibility of trauma induced conditions; in the case of racisms negative effect on African Americans accessibility to mental health care, childrens often inability to seek help when their parents either directly inflict or passively sanction their trauma, genocide, where individuals physical survival is celebrated, their psychological wounds often left unhealed, and returning veterans who are lost in an inefficient bureaucratic system. A study of PTSD is an exploration of human cruelty; street crime, child abuse, genocide, and the emotional aftershocks of war, their real consequences for survivors, and equally real opportunities for recovery, definition allowing. My findings suggest PTSD is a construct, created not only to legitimize the aftermath of trauma for sufferers, but also fulfill an equally important role for onlookers. Expanding the definition and accepting the significant number of those who then qualify as experiencing it, requires us to accept the following unspeakable truth: If, for one person, foolishness does not account for helplessness, for ourselves, no amount of precaution”

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