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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00073

Disarming ex-combatants’ minds: Towards situated reintegration process in post-conflict Colombia

  • 1University of Los Andes, Colombia
  • 2Hospital Universitario San Ignacio, Colombia
  • 3Laboratory of Experimental Psychology and Neuroscience, Institute of Cognitive and Translational Neuroscience (INCYT), Argentina

Collective violence in the context of armed conflict impacts the economy, health systems and social stability of affected countries. This is considered a complex phenomenon with interwoven biological, psychological, social, cultural and political factors. However, most of the research on this topic still lacks suitable established integrative approaches to assess multilevel perspectives. Social, cognitive and affective mental processes (SCAMP) are critical factors that should be considered in multilevel approaches. In this article, we critically discuss some of the classically isolated approaches used in violence research, the absence of successful interventions for ex-combatants reintegration, and the specific neglect of SCAMP in these interventions. We present the case of post-conflict Colombia as a unique opportunity to study the different roots of collective violence, and we call for a more robust and situated approach to understanding of and intervention in this multifaceted phenomenon. In addition, we suggest a two-stage approach for addressing ex-combatants’ reintegration programs, which considers the situated nature of post-conflict scenarios and the urgent need for evidence-based interventions. This approach focuses on the comprehensive scientific assessment of specific factors involved in violence exposure and the subsequent design of successful interventions. The implementation of this approach will contribute to the effective reintegration of individuals who have been exposed to extreme violence for more than 50 years.

Keywords: Reintegrating disengaged combatants, Post-conflict, ex-combatants, Collective violence, Armed confict

Received: 26 Sep 2018; Accepted: 10 Jan 2019.

Edited by:

Oscar Vilarroya, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain

Reviewed by:

Yoni Levy, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Israel
Adolf Tobena, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain  

Copyright: © 2019 Baez, Santamaría García MD, PhD and Ibanez. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Agustin Ibanez, Institute of Cognitive and Translational Neuroscience (INCYT), Laboratory of Experimental Psychology and Neuroscience, Buenos Aires, Argentina, aibanez@ineco.org.ar