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From Our Members: Lessons from Using Storytelling as Trauma Prevention and Healing in Central Africa

Posted 31 December 2017 in StressPoints by Pauline Zerla

As a peacebuilding professional who focuses on storytelling and Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR), I spent most of my professional career in volatile parts of the African continent. I have lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR) and worked in South Sudan, Somalia and Sierra Leone. I specialized in the reintegration of former child soldiers and the fostering of social cohesion among conflict-affected communities. To date, one of my most memorable experiences has been working with leaders of communities affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army across South Sudan, CAR and the DRC to support community reconciliation and trauma healing. 

 

From Our Members: Approaching Cynicism as Functional, Maladaptive, and Changeable is Crucial to the Longitudinal Health Trajectories of OEF/OIF/OND Veterans

Posted 31 December 2017 in StressPoints by Andrew J. Smith, PhD, Tillman Military Scholar

Cynicism can come to dominate the worldview of combat veterans, especially those who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) characterized by hypervigilance and chronic threat detection (see Todd et al., 2015). This insight is no doubt familiar to many clinicians working in veteran care settings. Accruing evidence suggests that cynicism—and negative worldview-related byproducts— serve as an integral barrier to health care and healthy re-integration into life after combat (see Arbisi et al., 2013; Crawford et al., 2015; Held & Owens, 2012; Hoge et al., 2004; Sayer et al., 2009). According to a vast evidence base in personality/health psychology, chronic cynicism that calcifies as a trait-like entity is one of our best predictors of biopsychosocial dysfunction across the lifespan (e.g., metabolic disease, cardiovascular disease, low social support, divorce; see Glazer-Baron et al., 2007; Miller et al., 1996; Mommersteeg & Pouwer, 2012; Smith, 2006; Smith, Glazer, Ruiz, & Gallo et al., 2004).

 

Trauma and World Literature: Norwegian By Night by Derek B. Miller

Posted 31 December 2017 in StressPoints by Howard Lipke, PhD

Sheldon Horowitz, the central character in Derek B. Miller’s novel Norwegian By Night, is a Jewish-American combat veteran of the Korean War who is haunted by much in his past and, especially, by self-blame regarding deaths for which he had varying degrees of agency. These include but are not limited to the death of a comrade in Korea, his own son’s death in the Vietnam/US war and the Nazi’s murder of Jews in the Holocaust. He is richly drawn and his emotions, especially rage, are creatively and profoundly portrayed. While Sheldon has experienced many things which could lead to intrusive painful recollections/nightmares, it is events he only imagines regarding the death of his son which are most prominent. The following passage describes his sleep disturbance. The brief reflection on his wife’s own sleep disturbance in the wake of their son’s death is also particularly poignant.
 

Military Matters: Minority Stress in LGBTQ Service Members: Creating Safety Amid Uncertainty

Posted 31 December 2017 in StressPoints by Sebastian J. Bliss, MS

The United States military has often been at the forefront of efforts to incorporate minority groups into the fighting force, even while the country, as a whole, was divided by broader social movements such as racial segregation. As the U.S. military unites individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, efforts to homogenize the force may have the unintended effect of blinding leaders and healthcare providers to important cultural differences including minority stressors among service members. Mental healthcare providers within the Department of Defense (DoD) often receive extensive training in the identification and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. But, these providers may have a limited conceptualization of trauma and stress in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) populations, including more insidious forms of trauma stemming from anti-LGBTQ policies and social movements that may affect these military personnel. 

 

Diversity in Traumatology: Children as Research Subjects in Global Mental Health: Mapping Ethical Challenges

Posted 31 December 2017 in StressPoints by Elena Cherepanov, PhD

Global Mental Health (GMH) is an area of study and practice that operates within international humanitarian context. GMH experience broadened the understanding of trauma and mental health (MH) in diverse cultures and demonstrated the power of human resilience. It also raised awareness of the importance of ethical regulations amid high prices for ethically questionable practices that can put at risk participants and compromise delivery of humanitarian aid. Considering that conducting research in humanitarian crisis can have unintended consequences, it must be treated as an intervention. As such, the extreme vulnerability of children calls for additional layers of protections of the participants. The review of common ethical challenges to research and data collection when children are the GMH research subjects is followed by suggestions on managing them in three strategic directions: a) careful planning and knowledge of local concerns and cultural norms; b) participatory action research to engage community in validation of research tools and minimize the impact of the power differential, and c) navigation of arising ethical dilemmas by engaging higher level of values such as humanitarian principles where safety is always a priority.

 

Do all children follow the same symptom trajectory after exposure to a disaster?

Posted 28 November 2017 in JOTS Highlights by Rayleen M. Lewis, MPH, Michelle S. Livings, Betty S. Lai, Ph.D., Annette M. La Greca, Ph.D., ABPP and Ann-Margaret Esnard, Ph.D.

More than 100 million children worldwide are exposed to disasters each year (UNISDR, 2011), and disasters are increasing in both frequency and intensity (USGCRP, 2016). Following a disaster, posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) are the primary problem presenting in children (Furr, 2010).

The Development and Validation of a Self-Report Instrument that assesses ICD-11 Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Complex PTSD: The Complex Trauma Inventory (CTI)

Posted 22 November 2017 in JOTS Highlights by Justin M. Litvin, M.A., Patricia Kaminski Ph.D. and Shelley A. Riggs, Ph.D.

Since there is a significant shift in the definition of PTSD and a new trauma disorder is proposed, new assessment tools are needed to measure these novel constructs.

Neurological Reactivity of Combat Veterans with PTSD Following Exposure to Trauma-related Auditory and Olfactory Cues: An fNIRS Study

Posted 22 November 2017 in JOTS Highlights by Michael Gramlich, M.S., Sandra M. Neer, Ph.D., and Deborah C. Beidel, Ph.D. ABPP

In recent years, national agencies and clinical research centers began advocating for integrative approaches that capture behavioral, genetic, and neurophysiological mechanisms to better understand complex and chronic disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
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