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Articles that appear in the Trauma Blog are from StressPoints or web editorial contributions.

StressPoints is the award-winning online eNewsletter of ISTSS. StressPoints shares news and opinions about traumatic stress, highlights ISTSS and affiliate societies' activities and offers informational resources and feature articles of interest to the field. Access archived StressPoints articles prior to 2015.

Trauma and Diversity: Moving Towards an Understanding of Military Sexual Trauma Across the Gender Spectrum

Posted 1 January 2018 in StressPoints by Ryan Holliday, PhD, and Lindsey L. Monteith, PhD

Military sexual trauma (MST) is defined as sexual harassment or sexual assault experienced by military personnel during their service (U.S. Government, 2014). Experiencing MST has been linked to a number of adverse consequences, including psychiatric disorders (e.g., depression, posttraumatic stress disorder), physical health conditions (e.g., liver disease, chronic pulmonary disease), as well as increased risk for suicidal ideation, attempts, and suicide (Kimerling, Gima, Smith, Street, & Frayne, 2007; Kimerling, Makin-Byrd, Louzon, Ignacio, & McCarthy, 2016; Monteith et al., 2016). 


Biological Perspectives: Attitudes of Mental Health Professionals toward PTSD & Substance Use Disorder Comorbidity: A Biological & Educational Perspective

Posted 1 January 2018 in StressPoints by Jack C. Lennon

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders (SUDs) co-occur at a significantly high rate, with estimates of PTSD and alcohol use disorder comorbidity ranging between 36 percent and 52 percent (Mills, Teesson, Ross, & Peters, 2006). Within the literature exists strong evidence of fundamental neurological and neuropsychological correlates of this comorbidity, each condition subject to the physiodynamic synergism of their coexistence. Neuroanatomical structures such as the dorsal and rostral anterior cingulate cortices (ACC), as well as the amygdala, have been implicated as bases for the seemingly adaptive self-medication of hyperarousal and other trauma-related states (Loflin, Earleywine, & Bonn-Miller, 2017; Vujanovic, Bonn-Miller, & Petry, 2016). 


Student Perspectives: Developing Boundaries for Competence

Posted 1 January 2018 in StressPoints by Chelsea M. Cogan, MA

At the time, I did not know how I would incorporate this advice into my life, but I knew the advice was important. A few short months later, I arrived at graduate school, eager to begin down my career path to being a clinical psychologist contributing to the field of traumatic stress. As with other students in a variety of programs, I quickly realized graduate school is a never-ending supply of opportunities to grow as a person, clinician, and researcher.

Student Perspectives: A Psychology Trainee’s Professional Transition: Learning about Different PTSD-Related Treatment Approaches

Posted 1 January 2018 in StressPoints by Nicole A. Sciarrino, MA, MS

I pursued doctoral training with a goal to deepen my understanding in the conceptualization and treatment of trauma-related difficulties, and ultimate aim of becoming a well-rounded trauma psychologist. My graduate school experiences provided me with unique opportunities to develop my therapy skills in treating trauma-exposed individuals. However, it was not until beginning my internship training within a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital that I became aware of the extent to which I had only begun to scratch the surface in my knowledge about the treatment of trauma-related conditions. 


Trauma and World Literature: South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby

Posted 1 January 2018 in StressPoints by Howard Lipke, PhD

Ashley Shelby’s novel, South Pole Station, tells the story of an acclaimed young painter, Cooper, whose career had been on a downward spiral concomitant with the appearance of her brother’s schizophrenia symptoms which led to his suicide. As the novel begins, she is on a path to win an artist’s fellowship to the U.S. South Pole scientific facility. Shelby insightfully explores a variety of themes including the effects of severe mental illness on family, interpersonal interactions in a closed environment, the emotional nature of the politics of science, and the vicissitudes of intergenerational fealty and rivalry.

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.
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