Gun to body: Mental health against unchilding

Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The paper demarcates the ways children experience and locate their suffering within the colonial violence that dominates their reality. It follows Martín-Baró's model of articulating a critical psychology “of the people,” (Lykes & Sibley, 2014) while connecting and constructing the author's analysis through the words and reflections of Palestinian children from Jerusalem, Hebron and Gaza. To understand Palestinian children's narrations, the article analyzes (1) how territorial siege, segregation and separation from the homeland constitute, as children in Gaza explained, “non-breathing,” non-living spaces, produced by rendering lands, bodies, and lives exterminable and disposable; (2) how securitization and military checkpoints (“killing boxes”) dominate the geography of the neighbourhood, so as to confine children within a condition of “caging” and maintain them as “caged others;” and (3) how the settler colonial governance of childhood invades not only public space with their “killing boxes,” but also the Palestinian home and intimate familial spaces through practices of child home-arrests. It concludes by illustrating the ways in which children endure ongoing wounding and engage in the process of healing while living under the ideological militarized force of uprootedness and “rightlessness.” Politicizing the examinations, and interventions with children's wounds and traumas, when living and surviving what the article frames as a “gun to body” context, can promote mental health worker's attentiveness to children's performances and transformations, recognizing and affirming the agency of subjects undergoing dispossession and cruel injustice.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)126-145
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


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