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  • Persisting Imprints of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

    There has been a considerable amount of valuable recent research on changes to the brains of Americans as the result of 9/11, as a recent article on the Discovery website reports.  The article relies on the research of Judith Richman and colleagues published in 2008 in the American Journal of Public Health , which concluded, among other things, as the Discovery article has it, that:

    Nine years later… the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, continue to affect the way we [meaning Americans] think, remember and react to stressful situations. The actual trauma ended long ago, but for many people, measures of brain activity and body chemistry are different than they were before it happened.

    What this would seem to imply is that, when large-scale traumatic events occur, the impact is experienced not only by those who are proximate to the events, who may well experience post-traumatic stress disorder and related conditions.  Also, many in the general population are impacted, who may be caused substantial distress by the events long after they occur, and who may have their reactions to stressful situations changed by their response to large-scale events.  Thinking about this in a broader context, I’m led to wonder what this research could tell us about the impact on people generally of the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

    As I suggested in blog posts at the time, my clinical experience at that point strongly suggested that many people were in fact traumatized and subject to great stress as a result of the great financial uncertainties of that time.  Despite the fact that those experiences may not have resulted in diagnosable conditions under DSM-IV, I am still led to wonder about the ways in which those experiences may have changed the ways in which at least some people “think, remember and react to stressful situations”.  It may be important for each of us to ask ourselves how those events have affected us, and to seek appropriate psychotherapeutic help, if we feel that our approach to stress has changed.

    I’d welcome your comments and reflections on the impact of intense stress of this kind in our lives.

    Wishing you all the very best on your  personal journey to wholeness,

    Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst


    PHOTO CREDIT: © Ivan Paunovic |

    © 2010 Brian Collinson

    1. jamenta


      September 16, 2010 at 8:43 pm -

      I read a study recently – a social psychology study – that dispelled an old myth about traumatic experiences. The myth that the psyche tends to repress trauma or forget it.

      In truth, most trauma victims are plagued by a very vivid memory of the act of trauma – whether it be an actual physical violence or abuse against self, or another trauma that can be just as abusive – the betrayal of a loved one, or a severe heartless rejection.

      The emotional intensity gives it force and remains within us even if it does not surface all the time in our consciousness.

      The greater question is the over-arching direction of the unconscious and the nature of synchronistic activity both within and without that is meant to bring about or individuation and personal destiny. Trauma then is no accident either.

      It is IMO very Jungian to say: “Only the favorites of God suffer the greatest trials.”

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