PDN Photo of the Day

Double Portraits of Trauma and Coping

It’s All In My Head is Etinosa Yvonne Osayimwen’s ongoing project that explores the coping mechanisms of survivors of terrorism and violent conflict in her home country of Nigeria.

Etinosa uses a double-exposure technique. She takes portraits of Nigerian survivors of violence and terrorism—then superimposes the portrait with an image of something that reminds that person of how their lives have changed. Her process involves spending long amounts of time talking to the survivors before any photography takes place.

According to Etinosa, the norm in Nigeria (as it can be in other countries in Africa and around the globe) is that whenever there is an attack, humanitarian organizations, government agencies and others focus on providing relief materials, setting up make-shift clinics, schools etc. Often, and very crucially, much less attention is given to assessing the mental health of the survivors. Etinosa started this project in part to draw society’s attention to survivors’ mental states and to advocate for increased access to psycho-social support for them.

During her talks with survivors, she says, she realized that many of them had never gotten over the sad or traumatic events they had witnessed. Some of them had never even been asked about their experience nor about how they felt. Silence can breed depression, PTSD, and vengeful thoughts. The idea of “moving on” can be considered a charade as they are stuck in the past while trying to start over.

To see more of Etinosa Yvonne Osayimwen’s work see her website.

– by Samantha Reinders

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