As more individuals bear witness to terrorist attacks, school shootings, or assaults, there has been an increase in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a diagnosis that has generated controversy since its genesis during the Vietnam War. Is PTSD real or is it a modern myth? Is the counseling of its victims valuable or possibly harmful? Are the memories of childhood trauma uncovered by many people valid or are they unwitting fabrications? In this groundbreaking book, Chris Brewin, an internationally recognized expert on trauma, presents recent research on PTSD, memory, and neuroscience and offers a powerful new theory to explain conflicting findings about the nature and treatment of traumatic stress. At the core of the book is an analysis of how the impact of trauma affects memory and identity. Overwhelming stress can lead to a condition in which survivors are lost for words to describe what has happened to them but still experience vivid and inescapable images. Trauma also has the ability to bring about profound changes in identity and block normal mechanisms for correcting abnormal memory. Building on this analysis, Brewin explains why some interventions work and others are ineffective, and what could and should be done to help survivors.
Chris R. Brewin is professor of clinical psychology, University College London. He also participates in the clinical service provided by the Traumatic Stress Clinic, where he specializes in the treatment of PTSD.
Selected by the British Medical Association as Highly Commended in the Mental Health Category for 2004
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