International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies


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Trauma Blog
    12/31/2017 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. 

    12/31/2017 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).

    12/31/2017 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.
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