Vargas Forman grew up during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile and experienced firsthand what it is like to live in a society in which political violence is common. She brings that sensitivity to her work as a psychologist at the Torture Treatment Center of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon.
In her lecture, Vargas Forman described the kinds of trauma that torture survivors experience and the steps that the center takes to try to re-integrate victims into society. The center here in Oregon is one of about 40 centers across the U.S. and treats people from all around the world. Vargas Forman mostly works with survivors from Latin America (the largest number of people come from Central America, especially Guatemala).
During the talk, Vargas Forman displayed images of paintings by Latin American artist Franciso Botero. Botero’s recent work tries to capture the suffering of victims at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
She pointed out that the paintings could not capture the true nature of the event, but they carried a powerful message nonetheless and she admitted, that after all her work, it was very difficult for her to look at the actual photographs of the prisoners. She provided powerful testimony to the hard work that goes into the recovery process from political violence in the world today.