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Finding common ground in Moral Injury treatment

Posted 19 November 2017 in JOTS Highlights by Brian Klassen, Ph.D.

The experience of military service members who serve in combat is complex and can include multiple elements of fear, traumatic loss of friends and comrades, and provocative situations that challenge one’s basic sense of right and wrong (Stein et al., 2012).

Does the suffering end after placing children with traumatic experiences in foster families? A study of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in young children in foster care in Germany

Posted 19 November 2017 in JOTS Highlights by Mira Vasileva, M.Sc. and Franz Petermann, Ph.D.

For a long time it was assumed that very young children cannot experience symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); the common stance was that they are not able, at this early age, to appraise an experience as traumatic, or to develop symptoms such as re-experiencing, since their memory is still developing.

“One Scar Too Many:” The Association of Traumatic Events and Psychological Distress among Undocumented Mexican Immigrants

Posted 18 November 2017 in JOTS Highlights by Luz M. Garcini, Ph.D., MPH

The United States (U.S.) has been a primary destination for international migrants. Approximately 13% of the U.S. population is foreign born (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015), with a considerable proportion of these immigrants being undocumented (approximately 27%) and of Latinx/Hispanic descent (Pew Research Center, 2013).

A Trauma-focused Intervention for Refugee Minors: A Pilot Study

Posted 11 October 2017 in JOTS Highlights by Elisa Pfeiffer, M.Sc. and Lutz Goldbeck, Ph.D.

As many other European countries, Germany has in the last years welcomed thousands of refugees from all over the world, among them about 64,000 unaccompanied refugee minors, most of them in the age range between 14 and 17 years. Before their arrival in Germany, they often had been exposed to severe stressors such as physical abuse, war and life-threatening flight conditions over months and years.

Trauma and World Literature: Nature as a Healing Force After Trauma in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Posted 1 October 2017 in StressPoints by John Scott Janssen, LCSW

Trauma and World Literature welcomes and encourages submissions from ISTSS members who wish to share insights on the intersection between the clinical and scientific study of psychological trauma and the world of letters. In this issue, we feature a contribution from John Scott Janssen, LCSW.

Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is layered with subtle explorations of psychological trauma, moral anguish and complex grief. At various times Victor Frankenstein experiences symptoms of what we would now call PTSD–acute anxiety, insomnia, withdrawal, rage, depression, hypervigilance, intrusive memories, loss of an ability to experience positive emotions, catastrophic foreboding about the future and hyper-reactivity to triggers (for example, struggling to overcome anxiety and despair following his creation of a monster, he finds that “the sight of a chemical instrument would renew all the agony of my nervous symptoms”). (p. 69) Isolated, harboring a secret he cannot share, he even contemplates suicide.


Teaching with the Journal of Traumatic Stress (JOTS): Testimony and Ceremony as PTSD Treatment

Posted 1 October 2017 in StressPoints by Kathryn Becker-Blease, PhD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and culturally relevant care are topics that appear in introductory through graduate level courses. This class activity allows instructors to flexibly focus on culture, social psychology, mental health, and/or research design.

Background Information:

People all around the world experience potentially traumatic events, including natural disasters, accidents, child abuse, war, and other forms of violence. Some responses to trauma are nearly universal, but culture influences both the way people respond and the kinds of therapeutic experiences that help people after trauma. Most of what we know about what works to alleviate suffering after trauma comes from people who live in the U.S. and Europe.  

Student Perspectives: All Aboard the Intern-ship

Posted 1 October 2017 in StressPoints by Tara Frem, MA

My first article for ISTSS was about the difficulty of obtaining training experiences specialized in trauma without previous experience. I listed recommendations from students and professionals in the field: (i) seek out volunteer opportunities; (ii) ask advice from supervisors and professors; (iii) gain experience in related fields; (iv) complete certifications. Four years later, I am two months into an internship at a consortium site in Louisville, KY. My week consists of various tasks and work with different populations. I conduct psychological testing to inform recommendations regarding competency and criminal responsibility for inmates charged with felonies. I work with refugees and immigrants. And, I am a clinician on team of therapists who work with families referred by the Department of Child Protective Services with children and adults who are survivors or perpetrators of abuse. How did I get here? I want to describe how I put the above-listed recommendations to action.


Military Matters: Suicide Prevention in the U.S. Army: Targeting Risk and Resilience

Posted 1 October 2017 in StressPoints by Eren Youmans Watkins, PhD, MPH, Kelly Forys Donahue, PhD, Joseph Pecko, PhD, LCSW, and Kenneth Cox, MD, MPH

From a public health perspective, U.S. Army suicides are rare events and the prevalence of suicide in the U.S. Army is low (less than 0.02 percent). However, the impact of even one death, especially a suicide, has a resounding effect on America’s fighting force.

Since 2004, there has been an observed increase in the suicide rate among U.S. Army Soldiers. The U.S. Army’s highest number and rate of suicide among active-duty Soldiers was in 2012. In more recent years, 2013 to 2015, the U.S. Army suicide rate has stabilized and is approaching the rate seen in a matching U.S. population. While not as dramatic, the suicide count and rate in the U.S. general population has also increased in the last several years (Curtin, Warner, and Hedegaard, 2016).

Most risk factors for suicide among U.S. Army Soldiers are not unique to the military. Several studies have demonstrated that a myriad of circumstances, not one single factor, contribute to a person dying by suicide (Millner et al., 2017; Nock et al., 2017; Ursano et al., 2017). Among Soldiers, most suicide cases are young, junior enlisted, white, and male. In general, these characteristics have remained unchanged, but in recent years the rate of suicide among older Soldiers (25-34 years of age) has increased compared to younger Soldiers (17-24 years of age) (Nweke et al., 2016).
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