Derek Summerfield

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Derek Summerfield is an honorary senior lecturer at London's Institute of Psychiatry and a member of the Executive Committee of Transcultural Special Interest Group at the Royal College of Psychiatry. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Egyptian Psychiatric Association. He has published around 150 papers and has made other contributions in medical and social sciences literature.[1]

Clinical background[edit]

Dr. Summerfield was born in South Africa.[2] He qualified in medicine at St Mary's Hospital Medical School in London. During his working career, he has been Principal Psychiatrist with the Medical Foundation for Care of Victims of Torture in London, Honorary Senior Lecturer at St George's Hospital Medical School at the University of London[3] and a consultant to Oxfam on projects in war-affected settings. He was a Research/Teaching Associate for the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford.[4]

Research and publications[edit]

In 1995 he participated in a study on the psychiatric effects of the detention and torture of Palestinian political prisoners.[5] He has been involved with various studies on the effects of war and atrocity,[6][7][8] and of displacement and asylum-seeking[9] in Nicaragua,[10][11][12] Guatemala,[13][14] Bosnia[15] and the UK.[16] He has published extensively on the effects of torture[17][18][19][20] as well as the effects of war-related violence on women[21] and children.[22][23] He drew international attention with a series of publications questioning the existence of post-traumatic stress disorder,[24][25] criticizing the medicalization of psychotherapy for trauma[26][27][28] and the exaggeration of mental illness statistics.[29][30] Recently he has argued that global mental health statistics should take into account differing ethnopsychiatric definitions.[31]

Palestinian controversy[edit]

Summerfield has been a vocal critic of the Israeli Government's actions against Palestinians[32] and of what he believes are Israeli physicians' violations of medical ethics.[33][34][35][36] An October 16, 2004 editorial published by the British Medical Journal,[37] concerning what he described as the level of Israeli violence against Palestinian children generated controversy and a number of responses both negative[38][39] and positive.[40] He also attempted unsuccessfully to force Yoram Blachar to resign as head of the World Medical Association after spearheading a petition drive claiming Blachar supported torture while he was working in Israel.[41]

Critical Psychiatry[edit]

Dr. Summerfield is a member of UK branch of The International Critical Psychiatry Network.[42]


  1. ^ "Dr. Derek Summerfield, BSc(Hons), MBBS, MRCPsych." Accessed 4-24-2012.
  2. ^ "Derek Summerfield: Apartheid revisited." Al-Ahram Weekly, 14 - 20 August 2008, Issue No. 910.
  3. ^ "Derek Summerfield," The Lancet, Volume 354, Issue 9187, Page 1398, 16 October 1999.
  4. ^ Refugee Studies Centre Annual Report 2006-2007. Accessed 4-24-2012.
  5. ^ Sarraj, E. E., R. L. Punamaki, et al. (1996). "Experiences of torture and ill-treatment and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms among Palestinian political prisoners." Journal of Traumatic Stress 9(3): 595-606.
  6. ^ Summerfield, D. (1993). "The roots of torture and atrocity." BMJ 306(6874): 403.
  7. ^ Summerfield, D. (1995). "Addressing human response to war and atrocity." in Beyond Trauma, New York: Plenum: 17-29.
  8. ^ Summerfield, D. (1997) "The impact of war and atrocity on civilian populations." Psychological trauma: A developmental approach. D. Black, M. Newman, J. Harris-Hendricks and G. Mezey. Glasgow, Royal College of Psychiatrists: 148-155.
  9. ^ Summerfield, D. and C. Gorst-Unsworth (1991). "Asylum seekers in British prisons." The Lancet 338(8776): 1212.
  10. ^ Summerfield, D. (1987). "Nicaragua: War and Mental Health." The Lancet 330(8564): 914.
  11. ^ Summerfield, D. (1990). "Nicaragua: Health and Revolution." The Lancet 335(8693): 845.
  12. ^ Summerfield, D. (1995). "Raising the dead: War, reparation, and the politics of memory." BMJ 311(7003): 495-497.
  13. ^ Summerfield, D. (1991). "Guatemala: Health, human rights, and landlessness " The Lancet 337(8748): 1028-1029.
  14. ^ Summerfield, D. (1997). "The Mayas of Guatemala: Surviving terror." The Lancet 349(9045): 13.
  15. ^ Summerfield, D. (1999). "Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia: the medicalisation of the experience of war." The Lancet 354(9180): 771.
  16. ^ Summerfield, D. (2003). "War, Exile, Moral Knowledge and the Limits of Psychiatric Understanding: A Clinical Case Study of a Bosnian Refugee in London." International Journal of Social Psychiatry 49(4): 264-268.
  17. ^ Summerfield, D. A. (1990). "Doctors and torture." The Lancet 336(8715): 634.
  18. ^ Summerfield, D. (1993). "The roots of torture and atrocity." BMJ 306(6874): 403.
  19. ^ Summerfield, D. (1995). "Book Review: Counselling & Therapy With Refugees: Psychological Problems of Victims of War, Torture & Repression by Guus van der Veer." BMJ 310(6975): 339.
  20. ^ Summerfield, D. (1999). "Book Review: An End to Torture: Strategies for Its Eradication by Bertil Dunér." BMJ 318(7194): 1358.
  21. ^ Summerfield, D. (1996). "Rwanda: When women become killers." The Lancet 347(9018): 1816.
  22. ^ Summerfield, D. (1998). "If children's lives are precious, which children?" The Lancet 351(9120): 1955.
  23. ^ Summerfield, D. (2000). "Childhood, War, Refugeedom and 'Trauma': Three Core Questions for Mental Health Professionals." Transcultural Psychiatry 37(3): 417-433.
  24. ^ Summerfield, D. (1998). "Trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and war." The Lancet 352(9131): 911.
  25. ^ Summerfield, D. (2001). "The invention of post-traumatic stress disorder and the social usefulness of a psychiatric category." BMJ 322(7278): 95-98.
  26. ^ Patrick J. Bracken, Joan E. Giller, & Derek Summerfield, (1995). "Psychological responses to war and atrocity: the limitations of current concepts." Social Science & Medicine 40(8): 1073-1082.
  27. ^ Summerfield, D. (1999). "A critique of seven assumptions behind psychological trauma programmes in war-affected areas." Social Science & Medicine Vol 48(10), May 1999, 1449-1462.
  28. ^ Summerfield, D. (2004). "Cross-Cultural Perspectives on the Medicalization of Human Suffering." Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: 233-245.
  29. ^ Summerfield, D., (2011) "Income inequality and mental health problems," The British Journal of Psychiatry 198(3): 239-239.
  30. ^ Summerfield, D. A. (2012). "The exaggerated claims of the mental health industry." BMJ 344:e1791.
  31. ^ Summerfield, D. (2008). "How scientifically valid is the knowledge base of global mental health?" BMJ 336(7651): 992-994.
  32. ^ Summerfield, D., R. Giacaman, et al. (2011). "Mental health, social distress and political oppression: The case of the occupied Palestinian territory." Global Public Health 6(5): 547-559.
  33. ^ Summerfield, D. (1997). "Medical ethics: The Israeli Medical Association." The Lancet 350(9070): 63.
  34. ^ Summerfield, D. (1997). "The truth about Israeli medical ethics." The Lancet 350(9086): 1247.
  35. ^ Summerfield, D. (2003). "Medical ethics, the Israeli Medical Association, and the state of the World Medical Association." BMJ 327(7423): 1108.
  36. ^ Summerfield, D., C. Green, et al. (2007). "Medical ethical violations in Gaza." The Lancet 370(9605): 2102.
  37. ^ Derek Summerfield, Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes, British Medical Journal, 2004;329:924 (16 October), doi:10.1136/bmj.329.7471.924 Archived 28 December 2010 at WebCite
  38. ^ Simon M Fellerman. "Palestinian health: the truth, the lies, and the statistics", British Medical Journal 2004;329:1110 (6 November), doi:10.1136/bmj.329.7474.1110. Archived 28 December 2010 at WebCite
  39. ^ Irwin J Mansdorf. "Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes" British Medical Journal 2004;329:1102 (6 November), doi:10.1136/bmj.329.7474.1102-a Archived 28 December 2010 at WebCite
  40. ^ A M Rouse, "But about who's suffering worse—there's no argument", British Medical Journal, 2004;329:1101-1102 (6 November), doi:10.1136/bmj.329.7474.1101-b Archived 28 December 2010 at WebCite
  41. ^ "Doctors demand Yoram Blachar resign as ethics chief over Israeli torture," The Guardian, Sunday 21 June 2009 .
  42. ^ Authors, The International Critical Psychiatry Network Accessed May 10th, 2013

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