The examiner should inquire into the person’s daily life, relations with friends and family, work/school, occupation, interests, and use of alcohol and drugs, prior to the traumatic events. Inquiries into prior political activities and beliefs and opinions are relevant insofar as they help to explain why the person was detained and/or tortured, but such inquiries are best made indirectly by asking the person what accusations were made, or why they think they were detained and tortured. The psychosocial history is particularly important in understanding the meaning that individuals assign to traumatic experiences.
The occupation of the individual is sometimes relevant to the documentation of torture because it might affect the differential diagnosis of any lesions. Occupation can also be a marker of educational attainment, and so can be evidence of a change in cognitive and/or psychosocial functioning. Statements from former colleagues, or documentation of work appraisals, can act as corroboration of this point.
The social background can also be relevant. If the individual has some educational achievements documented, these can be used as indicators of the premorbid intellectual state (the psychological condition the individual was in prior to the trauma). They can then be compared with the evaluation of the individual’s present level of functioning, and judgements can be made about changes, and any possible causation.